Sunday 22nd September 1974 (Sunday League Division Three):

  Dales 6  

  Box Hill 1  

1 Hooper
4 Armitage        13 Pygas         21 Irvine         3 Claughton
15 Burns         5 Wiffen #         2 Bailey         6 Slade
14 Phillips         9 Ward

(# Sub - 12 Toal)

Scorer - Slade.

  On being told that our first league game was to be against Dales, there had been a mood of optimism in the camp. This was the fixture we wanted: after all, both of the six-a-side teams from which we had sprung had beaten Dales sides at Braeburn the previous May. This, however, was a very different ball game, and the gulf between the Sunday League and what we had known before was soon to be made painfully evident.

  We didn't help ourselves, either, with our complete lack of organisation. The first bus to Gristhorpe village, the home of Dale Electrical Installations Ltd, rolled up at 10.35, five minutes after the game had kicked off, with Duncan Claughton and Steve Toal on board. In all the excitement about joining the league, no-one had given any thought to how we were going to get eleven or twelve players to our away games. Les Bailey's Dad had a Vauxhall Viva Estate, which habitually did the rounds of our houses before and after matches, but that and the trusty bikes of Sladey and Andy Wiffen were our only reliable means of transport, and today we were caught out.

  Duncan was the faster at getting changed, but, by the time he was on the field, we were two goals down. A well-struck shot from outside the area by Sladey put us briefly back into it, but by half-time the deficit was 3-1. Steve Toal replaced Andy Wiffen after the interval, which meant we had what should have been our starting line-up on the field, and, as we began to play with a little more bite, the game hotted up. The Dales centre-forward, a chap who is recalled with singular lack of affection by Box Hill players, had several attempts at kicking Chris Hooper before he finally managed to tread on his hands. Although he earned himself a caution, the damage was done, and this seemed to put the game beyond our reach. We kept fighting until the final whistle, but, with a badly crocked goalkeeper, never really looked like getting a result. Also, we found to our cost that nobody at the club was capable of taking a throw-in properly!

  The absence of Norman Parkin had left us without a lot of strike power, and the two central defenders both struggled without Mick Hayward. Les Bailey spent most of the second half helping out, but to no avail. Although Mick was due to return next week, Norman would also miss the next two matches. I decided to add a bit of steel to the side, and went round to sign our old school pal Pete Cranston, who had not even considered throwing in his lot with us due to his planned departure to Manchester, but would now unexpectedly have to do another year at school.

  Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of all about this miserable day, however, was the motley collection of white, off-white, cream and grey tee-shirts that turned up masquerading as our change kit. Absolutely horrible.

Next page, the League game away to Negas.

Box Hill Home Page.