Sunday 17th November 1974 (Sunday League Cup Preliminary Round):

  News Avengers 19  

  Box Hill 0  

MacKay #
4 Armitage         13 Pygas         6 Slade         2 Bailey
10 Parkin         20 Cranston         12 Toal         15 Burns
14 Phillips         9 Ward

(# Sub - Wiffen)



  To the casual student of the game, it may seem impossible to score nineteen times in ninety minutes against a team who have eleven players and are trying to keep the score down, however poor the opposition are. In actual fact, News Avengers did it in sixty; I clearly recall asking Rob Davies for a timecheck, and being told half an hour had gone, and there was at this point no score. Yet, by half time, we had conceded ten.

  Our problems began with the absence of Duncan Claughton. Les Bailey was drafted in at left-back, and his versatility sorely tested. With Chris Hooper unavailable, I rather rashly overlooked the limited but reliable Andy Wiffen, and gave the game to our old school pal Hector MacKay, and, when he substituted himself (as one might politely put it) at half time, having had as torrid a time as any goalie in the history even of this club, it was obvious that the size of the task had far exceeded his worst expectations. So disillusioned was he that he didn't even stay to lend us moral support during the ritual second half slaughter. In fact, I'm not sure I ever saw him again after this day!

  Once News Avengers had breached our defence for the first time (and, yes, it did take thirty minutes), they then did so repeatedly, and more or less at will, Paul Nicholson alone scoring nine times. Any token attacks of ours that got past the wild Scots lad with the ginger hair in their midfield then came up against the scything tackles of Andy Jenkinson, who was unluckily for us wasn't suspended at the time. The midfield more or less gave up the struggle in the second half, and there was serious doubt as to whether certain forwards even had a touch of the ball after the interval. Only the frequent interventions of the sympathetic referee Martin Wyvill (another Sixth Form College connection), who pulled News Avengers players up for offside more times than they had the ball, saved us from an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. If it had been a boxing match, they'd have stopped it and called for the sport to be banned. As it was, this game was to be remembered for decades by all who were there as the most one-sided, farcical and entertaining (for all the wrong reasons) contest they had ever witnessed, and today's game had attracted rather a large number of spectators. It was also quite probably the most colourful game I have ever played in, News Avengers' purple and yellow kit blending with our tangerine to produce the kind of psychedelic effects normally best witnessed at a Pink Floyd gig.

  At the end, Andy Jenkinson claimed the score was twenty, but good old Martin assured us he'd been keeping count, and it had only been nineteen. Somehow, that seemed very important at the time.

  This game was played four days before the Birmingham pub bombings.



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