"Final Words", 1999.

"I regret little, I would change still less." - Robert Browning.



  I've trotted this text out for three editions of the booklet now, and edited it again for the web. As ever, it's been difficult not to get overly nostalgic about this truly farcical episode in our lives. The temptation to wax philosophical, or to make it all sound more grandiose than it really was, has hopefully been resisted. Rather, I simply hope I've rekindled the flame in the memories of those who were part of the great naive adventure, and maybe even fired the imaginations of those who were not so lucky.

  In retrospect, it was as much as anything the sudden ending of Box Hill that led to its legendary status: as already stated, given another year or two, I feel we could have achieved something with the side we had at the end of 1974-75, but fate was not going to allow us the chance. If, over the course of the years, Box Hill had evolved to become a respectable Sunday League team, or even - heaven forbid - one of the better ones, perhaps people would not look back on it with such strange fondness as they do. Would any other club get so many of their former players to attend a reunion sixteen years after they broke up?

  And, make no mistake, the club is remembered, if not always exactly fondly, by those who took part. My own experience, over what is now getting on for 25 years, is that whenever two or more of the old players are gathered together, the conversation turns, not to school days or even to the Penthouse, but to "our" football team. Some recall the great own-goals or Martin Wyvill's ridiculous decisions, others the uncomfortable rides in Les's car, still others Norman's booking or Pete's race back to the changing rooms. There are still a few who complain bitterly about being left out of the side for specific matches. There are also many people in Scarborough who recall playing against us (those memories are usually good ones!), or refereeing our games, or watching, or just reading about us.

  Box Hill was not something fixed or unchanging: it evolved considerably over its short life. Although predictably using a certain editorial licence in places, I've tried not to use the benefit of hindsight to draw trends where none existed, nor to abuse my position as author by granting myself the apparent benefit of being wise after the event. Yet it must be remembered that the period in question was also one of great change for all of us in many aspects of our lives, and by the summer of 1975 we were all very different people from the kids who had started out with such misplaced confidence just one short year ago, just as the club itself had undergone a series of irreversible changes. Many old friends, old places and old habits were no longer as important as they had once seemed, and many people's values and priorities had altered dramatically. As I said on the first page, this had been an important year in my life, a year of great change, and the football team had perhaps been a mirror of what those changes had meant to me.

  Whatever the problems we had at the time, I for one am glad we tried to make a go of it, and I think most of you are too. I hope, and genuinely believe, that Box Hill will be remembered throughout my lifetime. I'm beginning to wax philosophical now, so I'd better stop while the page is still dry. Thanks for reading this far. As the fat lady at the end of Morecambe and Wise used to say, "If you've enjoyed it, then it's all been worthwhile".



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