Sunday 29th September 1974 (Sunday League Division Three):

  Negas 12  

  Box Hill 1  

1 Hooper
15 S.Burns         7 Hayward         4 R.Burns         3 Claughton
20 Cranston         12 Toal         5 Wiffen
10 Dobson #         14 Phillips         9 Ward

(# played from half-time)

Scorer - Dobson.

  After the Dales game, we had felt that things could only get better, but after this fiasco we were finally aware of the size of the task ahead of us. The first result could have been put down to bad luck, bad organisation, or whatever, and, while this game did feature a particularly under-strength Box Hill line-up, two big defeats in two weeks would inevitably mark us out as the division's easiest team, in the opposition's minds as well as our own.

  This weekend, a lot of us started at college. Still without Norman Parkin, we also missed Steve Slade for this game, and when Graham Armitage went down with sinusitis, it was obviously going to be a rump team. Pete Cranston was drafted in for his first outing, and my brother (who really is called Robert, by the way) made the numbers up to ten. At half-time, with the score at 7-0, the Negas manager Ken North let us borrow his sub, Terry Dobson. It was perhaps the final indignity that Terry scored our only goal.

  To compound our problems, Chris Hooper had been pressganged into turning out when his hands were so swollen from last week's injury that he could hardly touch the ball - at least, that's what he told me. He had a couple of spells out of goals, proving that he was better goalie than outfield player, while Andy Wiffen, who took his place, proved the opposite. Their curiosity aroused by the family connection, my parents drove up to Olivers Mount to see their two offspring playing together for the first and only time. The game was afterwards summarised for me by my then eight-year-old sister as, "You running around and shouting a lot, and nobody else looking interested." Quite a succinct appraisal, although I'm not sure about the running around.

  That afternoon, I travelled to Leeds, to begin my undistinguished University career, and I wasn't the only one who might have had his mind on travel plans instead of the match. It may seem strange now that we played football at all on such an important day (it certainly did then to my mother!), but that was the way we were. In fact, it was pretty foolish of us to believe we could keep a club going when half the personnel, including the Secretary, were spending five days a week away from home, but in those days none of us seemed to find it the least bit odd. A weekend that had begun at the Penthouse on Friday with a memorable gig by the up-and-coming Judas Priest, ended with a Sunday evening in that noted Leeds public house the Pack Horse, my first ever night out in my new home town. A momentous time in my life, but recalled now only for this horrendous game. Strange days, indeed.

Next page, the League game away to Hackness.

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