West Riding 11
Box Hill 1
2 Bailey         15 Burns         6 Slade         7 Hayward         5 Wiffen
12 Toal         20 Cranston
8 Hodgkinson         14 Phillips         9 Ward
Scorer - Hodgkinson.
The news that Box Hill had been drawn in the District Cup
against the runaway leaders of Division One of the Sunday League
was greeted with a mixture of incredulity and anticipation in local football circles.
If News Avengers, a very strong side but Division Two standard,
took us for nearly twenty, West Riding, effectively a whole Division higher,
could surely have expected at least thirty. Or so we were told.
Although Chris Hooper was back in goals, Norman Parkin was now out injured, so Tony Hodgkinson was recalled to partner the usual strikers. There was yet another attempt at finding the right balance, with changes in the back five and only two in midfield. Graham Armitage, one of the prime movers in Box Hill's formative period and of course our original captain, was left out for this one, and asked to be put on the transfer list. We didn't get any offers.
In the event, the freezing weather did the home side no favours, and the rock-hard pitch with jagged icy ruts helped neither of us, but we were most keen to play, hoping presumably that the conditions would act as a leveller. Though playing in trainers (boots were out of the question), I sustained a toe injury which lingered for many years, and Chris Hooper hurt himself on the shoulder, and wasn't able to finish the game, Andy Wiffen (of course) doing the honours in goal.
The West Riding included in their ranks two of the most prolific strikers in the northern hemisphere in Eddie Lark and Derek Abbey, the latter of whom would next year score on Match of the Day against Crystal Palace in the 3rd Round of the real FA Cup, but in truth they took this game rather casually. After the initial period, when they were obviously desperately worried about being on the end of what would have been the biggest upset in local football in the town for many years, as soon as they were a couple of goals up, and realised how hopeless we really were, they settled into knocking the ball about aimlessly, setting up their full-backs for their annual goals, and even at one point sent up their goalkeeper for a corner. The referee threatened him with a caution if he didn't return to guard his own goal, though he omitted to clarify from what he was expected to guard it, nor which of the Laws of the game was being transgressed. (The said goalie went on to become a referee of national repute himself, and, contrary to some rumours which have spread, no, we're not related.) All the same, many teams in the top division would end up conceding more than eleven to the West Riding, who ended up collecting more trophies this season than Melchester Rovers, and few of the clubs they vanquished along the way would have replied with a goal like Tony Hodgkinson's, a brilliant curling effort from almost the half-way line. Yes, 11-1 and we regarded it as some kind of moral victory. And Pete Cranston won the race back to the changing rooms which ensued the second the referee blew the final whistle, to the eternal amusement of his Dad.
Still, at least Box Hill never turned into a Seventies Revival Bar, eh kids?
The Thursday before this game, I'd been in the audience when John Martyn had recorded his legendary "Live at Leeds" album, featuring former Free guitarist Paul Kossoff.
Next page, the League game "at home" to Hackness.
Box Hill Home Page.