As a bit of variation, away from all things musical, this page is dedicated to my football interests, and I’ll be sharing snippets of hopefully interesting information, pictures, experiences etc. for all you footie fans out there !
Down the years, I’ve regularly played football and 5-a-side, where, due to my position being goalkeeper, I subject myself to homicidal maniacs ( strikers ) who like nothing more than to hammer the ball as hard as they can in my direction.
Aside from many games down the years after work with work-mates, I also played for about 10 seasons with Ealing RS in the Redlees 5-a-side league in Isleworth, and a number of seasons playing football for Newton City in the Chiswick & District league. I’ve enjoyed many highlights, including running out as 5-a-side league Champions with Ealing RS in 1998 / 99, saving a penalty in a Cup final in which I ended on the losing side and collecting quite a few personal trophies and medals too.
So read on. I hope you enjoy sharing my experiences.
* A blast from the past …
The ‘Unknown’ trophy
It’s a funny thing. I never really imagined, when I started playing, that I would be fortunate enough to enjoy as many great moments as I did. Even less, that I would amass such a collection of trophies, medals and mementos. So, it’s strange that I have a rather grand looking ‘unknown’ trophy in my collection. With the passing of time, I have absolutely no idea what I got it for !
* Coming Soon … More blasts from the past … What happened in 1994 / 95 – Wearside Wanderers and all that ! … plus a season of vets football ! !
… Plus … Rediscovering Subbuteo Football / Knee surgery October 2013 / A brief comeback / Knee surgery April 2015
Rob’s Football ‘Career’
How it all started
It all started two or three years after I left school really. I didn’t play much football at school – I wasn’t that interested in playing then. I was working at Griffin & George Ltd in Perivale at the time and my workmate Dave had the idea of starting up a Griffin’s football team, inspired by the forthcoming 1974 World Cup. So we got a load of the lads together, along with some players from the Alperton branch a couple of miles away, and Griffin United was born, playing Sunday morning friendlies as and when we could get them. We soon had our own strip to play in too – A Dutch inspired orange kit !
In those days I played either up front or in midfield – anywhere to stop me getting in the way of the back four ! I did manage to get on the score sheet once or twice though. My first goal was actually a header. A bit risky considering I used to play in glasses in those days. I don’t remember who we were playing but I think it was at Gunnersbury Park, although I’m not absolutely sure of that either. Anyway, we had a throw in which was flicked on around the edge of the 6 yard box. The ball looped in my direction in the middle of the goal and as the ball came to me I nodded into the top of the net. I was amazed ! Surely a defender would barge me out of the way or chop my feet from under me. But no ! As I looked round to celebrate, there wasn’t a defender within yards of me. What would Alan Hansen have made of that ? “Awful defending.” Still, I wasn’t complaining, I’d actually scored a goal !
After a couple of seasons, both player numbers and fixtures were struggling. As a result, the team soon had to be comprised of predominantly non-Griffins players. The name of the club was changed to Marlem Town FC and entry into a Sunday league soon followed. By this time I had finished my short career at the age of 20 ! I wasn’t as good as most of the other lads so wasn’t getting much of a game. At some stage later, I decided I wanted to play again. So one Sunday morning, I headed for Gunnersbury Park to see if I could get a game, just on the off-chance. As luck would have it, I came across a team that didn’t have a full side. They played in black and blue stripes, had a nifty forward called Albert and were called Ealdon. I didn’t do too badly and even headed against the bar ! I had just the one game – never played for them again. So that was that… But … Little did I know at that stage that it was just the beginning !
Early days of 5-a-Side
I had been working for Gutermann’s (PGL) in Perivale for a while when I played my first 5-a-side football. I had never played 5-a-side before and soon found myself joining my workmates in the mid-week sessions at Hanwell Community Centre. I used to get the occasional tackle in and sometimes got on the scoresheet. I even played a handful of games in the Thursday night league too. But I was soon being plagued by headaches after games. Eventually, with the pain getting progressively worse and with the regular inspiration of watching my QPR hero Phil Parkes, I decided to try my luck in goal as a more permanent role. I was soon playing in goal in the league but I was still getting used to my new position. My form was therefore rather patchy and inconsistent in these early days. After a while, having gained the necessary experience and know-how, my game developed and I established myself as being a pretty useful keeper.
In Goal For Newton City
Having played 5-a-side for three or four years, an opportunity arose to play the full 11-a-side game on Sunday Mornings. Rob Austin, who had previously invited me to make guest appearances for Perivale Cricket Club, approached me one day at 5-a-side, asking if I’d be interested in playing for his Sunday football team, Newton City, who played just down the road at Perivale Park. The season was already under way when I made my debut in the club’s 3rd eleven in October 1984. I didn’t quite know what I was letting myself in for as I’d never played in goal in a proper football game before, let alone a league match. I needn’t have worried though, as I ‘hit the ground running’, putting in some good performances and making some good saves. At the end of the season, my performances saw me voted the Player Of The Year for the 1984/85 season.
The following season, I played Saturday football for Phoenicians’ 4th team and continued to play for Newton City on Sundays. My form for Phoenicians mirrored that of my first season with Newton City. I was on top form. However, this proved to be a one-off season for Phoenicians as a lack of players took its toll and the 4th team folded. My Sunday football at Newton City continued for some years, although my form sometimes fluctuated, not helped by the start of knee problems, which were destined to feature a lot more than recommended !
More 5-a-side after work
In 1988 I changed jobs, moving to Ealing Council. Needless to say, no transfer fee was involved, and I was soon playing in the regular Friday night games, In truth, I had already been playing in these games for some while ; on loan you might say. After a couple of years or so, I started playing with the ‘Perceval Playboys’ too, another group of work-mates, on Thursday Nights, also at Hanwell Community Centre. I originally started off playing in an outfield role on Thursdays, purely because I fancied a bit of a run around for a change. However, I soon found myself going back to my comfort zone in goal. I was voted their Player of the Year in 1997 and 1999. Despite these not being terribly serious awards, it was still nice to think all my diving about on that hard floor every week was appreciated.
In 1989, I took part in the Community Services 5-a-side competition. This was an inter-departmental contest held in Walpole Park one evening after work. Memories are a bit hazy, but I seem to recall being in a team that was knocked out fairly early on in the proceedings and somehow found myself in the ‘plate’ runners-up team due to there not being enough keepers to go round. Non of this transfer window nonsense !
Two trophies 1992 / 93
I played for the Ealing NALGO team over the course of a few seasons, as an employee of Ealing Council. The highlight was an appearance in the 1992/93 Plate Final, which was played somewhere at the far end of the North Circular on a pretty awful pitch. I was in goal for the Ealing B team, facing the Ealing A team. Needless to say, the A Team were favourites and indeed ran out winners with a resounding 5 – 0 scoreline. But at least I had the consolation of saving a penalty.
At the end of the same season, I played for a Newton City XI in the Harrow Villa Charity Tournament at Griffin Park, home of Brentford FC. This was my only ever game on a league ground and somehow, I finished with a Runners-up medal !
Ealing RS : 5-a-side Winners 1998 / 99
The 1998 / 99 Season will always be a memorable one for me. This was the season Ealing RS finally won the Redlees Park 5-a-side League after years of near misses.
I started playing for them in 1993, on the 11th November to be precise in a 12 – 8 win ! I got a call at work that afternoon from Mark Hand asking if I could play for his league side that evening. Despite already having a game lined up at Hanwell Community Centre with the ‘Perceval Playboys’ at 5pm, I accepted the offer to play. So having finished the game at Hanwell, I made my way swiftly to Redlees Park in Isleworth just in time for the 6.30pm kick off. I was immediately impressed with the way the team played with their quick movement and accurate passing, and they were good defensively too. But as always in any game of 5-a-side, the keeper still gets plenty to do, and I must have impressed as I was signed up to play regularly for the team who, it turned out , were the current league champions having won the league the previous season .
I think we finished third in my first season, as we seemed to do most seasons until 1998 / 99, when we actually finished as League Champions.
During my 11 years playing for Ealing RS there were many other highlights. There was the day we smashed a record breaking 34 goals in a game. In the 1996 and 97 season, the league awarded us the sportsmanship award which the lads subsequently presented to me as an appreciation of my performances. Also this season, we reached the semi finals of the League Cup only to be knocked out on penalties. This happened two years running, as history repeated itself the following season. On a personal note, I have memories of making many satisfying saves and actually scoring a goal from one of my long rollouts ! I kept a few clean sheets too – not easy in an hour of 5-a-side. Two of them I kept consecutively in the Championship season. And of course there was the after-match drink at Hare and Hounds or The Royal Oak.
However, after our Championship triumph, things soon started to take a downward turn. Over the course of the next two or three years players left and we soon found ourselves going through a period of languishing in the bottom half of the table. I took over running the team for the last couple of seasons, and we looked to be making an upward turn. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the league itself. The running of the league had changed hands a couple of years before and somehow, somewhat mysteriously, the league folded. The very last game Ealing RS played was on 12th October 2004, suffering a 7-10 defeat to old rivals Hounslow, bringing an end to an enjoyable and memorable era.
Newton City FC 1993 / 94
Having played for Newton City for some years it was nice to be voted for two club awards at the end of the 1993 / 94 season. I received the 3rd Team Player and Club Sportsman Of The Year and as ever with these things, there’s a bit of a story behind getting these two awards.
The season wasn’t going great for the team. It was the usual struggle to stay away from the bottom of the table. On a personal note though, I found myself in good form between the sticks, playing consistently and making some good saves throughout the season. It got to about the end of January /early February, when I found myself facing a penalty. The kick wasn’t terribly well struck, scuffed rather than hit cleanly, giving me a chance to sprawl down to my right to make the save. But in doing so, the ball spun off the end of my finger, spraining the ligaments. So that was the end of what had been a good season for me up to that point.
However, it didn’t stop me getting up every Sunday morning to go to the games and cheer the rest of the lads on for the last few weeks of the season. There were some games where the referee needed someone to run the line for him and I was happy to oblige. So taking this all into account, with my form before the injury and my commitment to the cause throughout the rest of the season, many of my team mates and club mates alike, voted for me at the end of the season and I was awarded the two trophies at the end of season awards night.Having played many games for the club over the years, I eventually reached 100 appearances for which I received a comemorative trophy, in keeping with the club’s tradition. I was captain for that game but I can’t remember who it was against or even when it was.
In total, I must have played somewhere around 150 games for Newton City FC.
… But how would things pan out for the 1994/95 season ? … An enjoyable season for Wearside Wanderers !
… to be continued ! ! ! …
As you will have read above, I’ve played a fair bit of 11-a-side football down the years, mostly in bottom of the table scraps with Newton City FC in the Chiswick and District league. In comparatively recent years, I’ve played on a sort of ad hoc basis with Pacific Storm FC and was voted League Team Player of the Year 2005/2006 by my fellow team mates.
Unfortunately, I haven’t played any games for a couple of seasons now, but I was still keeping my hand in on the 5-a-side front, playing two, three or even four times a week, up until last summer. Unfortunately, due to knee problems,which resulted in having an operation in August 2010 to sort things out, I’ve was out of action for a while but did make a comeback but with restricted movement due to the degenerating knees.I was out of action for a year after my left knee replacement. Having got back into some regular 5-a-side, I had my right knee replaced in April 2015. I’m currently recovering from the operation and hope to make yet another comeback in 2016.
… *To be continued *
Rob’s Trophy Cabinet