Fuller Flavour: How saving a penalty was my claim to fame, plus a TV classic which should come back
In his latest column, Karl Fuller calls for the return of a nostalgic sporting classic...
I have been enjoying some sporting classics screened by various television companies to get the dose of sport that my system currently craves.
My favourite during the lockdown period has been the Snooker Crucible classics. It had me thinking that one of our regional television stations has missed a trick here – I hope you are reading Donovan!
It would be lovely to be able to watch some classic ‘Match of the Week’ programmes that Anglia TV used to screen on a Sunday afternoon in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
They were the highlight of my week back then. But from the moment that my eyes first opened on a Sunday morning, until the programme started, I had to negotiate through three moments that were really difficult moments for me as kid – Sunday school, roast dinners and Farmers Weekly!
I am sorry to say that I just did not take to an extra morning of schooling. So, I bargained with my mum that if she really wanted me from under her feet whilst preparing and cooking a Sunday dinner, I was more than happy to relocate to my local playing fields in Halstead Road, Kirby-le-Soken, and watch the football being played in the Clacton & District Sunday League.
Initially, this was home of one of the best teams in the league at the time, Coach & Horses, managed by former Ipswich player Danny Hegan.
This added a moment of intrigue for me to think that a player who once represented my beloved Town would be managing a Sunday league team. I’ve no idea what happened to Coach & Horses as a team, but they were replaced by a team called Harlequins who used this venue as their ‘home’ turf. This was in a day when retired Colchester United players would turn out for a side and I recall Bobby Hodge playing for Harlequins.
One of the away teams were called Coopers and half-hour before kick-off one week, I learned that my favourite-ever Colchester player and long-time Town coach since then, Steve Foley, was turning out for the visitors.
As soon as I knew, I ran home to get my autograph book which not only did Steve sign after the game, but he also agreed to take a penalty against me after I accosted him as he walked back to his car whilst a mate and I were having a kickabout in the goal. When I saved that spot-kick, it became my claim to fame for many years!
I would then go home for dinner and I hated roasts so much that I refused to eat them. Whilst the family sat around the table eating their dinner, I would tuck into cheese sandwiches which to this very day, I still love.
The only thing therefore that I could not avoid was the programme Farmers Weekly. It was excruciating to get through this half-hour of torture!
Then, Match of the Week would start at last. The programme was hosted by Gerry Harrison who was also the commentator for the main game to be screened and his co-host was Steve Ryder, later host of BBC’s Grandstand.
As this was shown during Ipswich’s glory years, they would inevitably feature in many of the main games. You knew when we were going to be the main game on arrival to games as behind the Churchmans stand, a huge crane would tower above the stand giving a cameraman an optimum view.
What I remember from those days is Town would often win, the household names of Town players scoring at will, a Dukes of Hazard style klaxon that would sound after each Town goal and the Mitre football which was white with a red stripe all the way round the middle.
Of course, it was not just Ipswich games shown, I do recall the other big East Anglia sides with some of their star players of the time. Most notably, Cambridge United with the blonde-haired Alan Biley starring and Luton Town with their iconic kit and players such as David Moss, Brian Stein and Ricky Hill. Come on Anglia TV, how about a few classic episodes for us fans to savour?
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