Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 26

In the early days of the 1974/75 season I was playing for the Reserves at Knebworth Rec. when I was involved in a clash of heads and momentarily knocked unconscious. As I lay on the ground blurry eyed I could see a figure coming towards me. This was the sponge man who doubled up as the linesman. He always wore a long brown macintosh and wellington boots no matter what the weather. He approached with a galvanised bucket full of cold water, a sponge and some smelling salts. I knew I was badly injured, as if I had taken a slight knock I would have run a mile at the sight of him approaching but I could not move. Eventually I was carried off and laid on the wet grass behind the goal while the game continued. When I did manage to get up I staggered around for a while, before feeling extremely embarrassed, I hurriedly changed and drove home. A large swelling appeared on the side of my face which would eventually require major surgery and post operative treatment. I would never play organised football again with one minor exception.

I was working at ICL Letchworth at the time and as I started to recover from the operation I joined four workmates in competing in the Letchworth Inter Works Sports League. This was where we competed against other works side in a sporting quiz on a monthly basis. On one occasion however they decided to organise a five a side tournament at Stevenage Leisure Centre and we decided to enter. On the day of the tournament I played in defence and really struggled as I had lost one of my salivary glands during the operation and the more I tried to run the drier my mouth became and the more liquid I needed to intake. If there had been substitutes I would not have continued to play but as there were not I had no choice. Despite me, we somehow managed to reach the final and I decided to play up front and just stand around in the opposition’s half. In the event I scored two cracking goals, the first when I received the ball just inside the opposition’s half, I knew I could not run and so hit it as hard as I could and watched it fly into the net past a startled keeper. During the second half I hung around by the other team’s goal area and my mate found me with an inch perfect pass out of defence which unmarked, I side footed first time past their keeper. The match ended 3-3 and would be decided by a penalty shoot out. I was left until last hoping the match would be decided before my kick. In the event the penalty shoot out was level at 4-4 with them having taken all their kicks and mine to come. I duly dispatched the kick and we won the trophy which I was given to bring home for the evening. That really was the last time I played any sort of football and I contented myself with watching local football, mainly Hitchin Town.

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