Sunday 16 March 1975 (Sunday League Division Three):

  Alpine 8  

  Box Hill 4  

1 Hooper
8 Weaver         15 Burns         6 Slade         7 Hayward
2 Bailey         20 Cranston         12 Toal         5 Porter
14 Phillips         11 Appleby

(Unused sub - Davies.)

Scorers - Porter 3, Burns.



  It has already been mentioned that, among the many problems faced by the man whose job it was try and keep Box Hill together, by no means the least was the unavailability of players from one week to the next, and the carousel of team changes which this necessitated. From the team that had gained our first win so gloriously, we now lost Norman Parkin, so we reshuffled the team quite drastically, reverting to four at the back, and brought Mick Hayward back into the side, the eighth person we had tried at left-back in fifteen games. This rather more orthodox line-up also included Chris Hooper returning in the goals, now a bit of a celebrity following his write-up in the Mercury, but sadly fated never to be on the winning side for us.

  The aforementioned Ian Gardner article, although inevitably something of a hatchet job, had raised the team's profile even higher. The epoch-making win of the previous week had been printed in the Evening News without undue comment, but had been widely noted, and for this game more local sporting aficionados made the pilgrimage to Olivers Mount to watch the proceedings than ever before.

  In the event, the league runners-up Alpine would perhaps claim that they saw us off rather more easily than the scoreline might suggest. They were six up at half-time when Box Hill in general and Andy Porter in particular woke up rattled them with three quick goals ("A neat hat-trick", as the Evening News put it), one made by Kev Phillips, one by Les Appleby and one solo effort. At this point, I swear I heard Eric Sedgman start to cheer for us. When Yours Truly followed up on Les Appleby's half-blocked shot, it even looked briefly as if we might be onto a bit of a result, but Alpine were not the second placed team for nothing, and slipped a gear, banging in another two goals to end the game as a contest.

  Who actually scored our fourth goal remained a bone of contention for many years. I certainly got the last touch, although I agreed from the outset it would probably have gone in anyway. Contrary to tradition, I initially credited the goal to Les, but he insisted it was mine. Given that now, almost twenty-four years and about 200 games later, it seems safe to assume it'll be the last goal I ever score in competitive football, I don't think anyone would begrudge me it.

  There had been much credit derived from this game. The win of the week before had not represented a freak result, never to be repeated, but, on the evidence of at least some sections of today's performance, had marked an irrevocable turning point in the club's fortunes. Admittedly, the improvement was perhaps from abysmal to something still rather less than mediocre, but even that was a giant step for Box Hill FC, and one we had seemed destined never to take.



Next page, the final League game, at home to Negas.

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