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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 21

1969 saw the inception of the FA Trophy. This was a competition for semi professional clubs, who unlike their amateur counterparts had never had a competition they could compete in with a realistic chance of winning it. Their only entry into national cup competitions was the FA Cup, where realistically they would only compete in the early rounds. The fortunate ones would get through to the First Round Proper, hoping to get drawn against a football league team, gaining a significant financial reward and with the chance of becoming “giant killers”. On a very rare occasion a non league club would make it to the Third Round Proper where the prospect of meeting a Division One side awaited. Now probably due to the creation of the Northern Premier League a year earlier they had a competition of their own. The Southern League and the Northern Premier League were the dominant force in semi professional football, just as the Isthmian League and the Northern League were in amateur football. The first winners of the FA Trophy were Macclesfield Town defeating Telford United 2-0 in the final.

In the Herts. County League the 1969/70 season saw Leggatts Way Old Boys win the Premier Division, Royston Town Division One, Bovingdon Division Two and Tudor Corinthians Reserves Division Three. Knebworth finished sixth in the Premier Division with the reserves finishing in mid table in Division One. In the Aubrey Cup Leggatts Way Old Boys defeated St.Margaretsbury 4-2, hence achieving the league and cup double. In the Amateur Cup the same four teams participated, Welwyn Garden City had applied but were refused entry. Three of the four teams that did enter were thrashed in the Preliminary Round. Buntingford Town lost 6-1 against Tring Town after a 2-2 draw. Rickmansworth Town and Saffron Walden Town both conceded eight goals, losing 8-0 and 8-1 respectively to Edmonton and Hoddesdon Town. Royston Town fared better defeating Berkhamsted Town 4-0, before losing to Letchworth Town 3-1 in the First Qualifying Round.

In the Isthmian League Hitchin Town finished a respectable seventh with Enfield becoming champions and going on to complete the double by winning the Amateur Cup, defeating Dagenham 5-1 in the final.

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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – Part 20

In the Herts. County League the 1968/69 season ended with Leggatts Way Old Boys winning the Premier Division, Sandridge Rovers achieving a second successive promotion and winning Division One, Mount Grace Old Scholars winning Division Two and Stansted Reserves Division Three. The Aubrey Cup was won by Marconi Instruments defeating Rolls Royce Engines 2-0.

The season appeared to have ended disastrously for Knebworth as the first team finished fifteenth in the Premier Division, in a relegation place, having only secured ten points all season and staying off the bottom on goal average only. The reserves were in Division One and finished in lower mid table but not in a relegation place. However if the first team were relegated then the reserves would be as well, because two teams from the same club could not compete in the same division. By a stroke of luck the runners up in Division One were Sun Sports Reserves, who could not be promoted as their first team was in the Premier Division. This created a vacancy in the Premier Division and at the AGM, Knebworth were elected to fill it enabling the reserves to stay in Division One.

The same four County League teams competed in the Amateur Cup with Buntingford Town defeating Royston Town 3-1 in the Preliminary Round being the only success.

Hitchin Town were now fully recovered from the events of the last few years and finished runners up in the Isthmian League behind champions Enfield. This was and still is to date the highest position they have attained in the Isthmian League.

A new club was formed in Stevenage to take the place of the defunct Stevenage Town. This was Stevenage Athletic, they joined the Metropolitan League and would play on the same ground at Broadhall Way.

Another important happening this season was the formation of the Northern Premier League. This was a league primarily based in the North West of England for semi professional clubs. It was formed by progressive clubs from the Cheshire County League and the Lancashire Combination. The first champions were Macclesfield Town.

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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – Part 19

Just like Wolves of the 1950’s Leggatts Way Old Boys would dominate the Herts. County League for a decade, from the mid sixties to the mid seventies. They had won promotion to the Premier Division for the start of the 1962/63 season, which was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Over the next twelve years they would win the Premier Division Championship six times, finish as runners up four times and third twice. They also won the Aubrey Cup four times during this period. They would win the Premier Division title one more time at the end of the 1979/80 season, before the inevitable decline set in. They dominated the league during my playing days, played some wonderful football and really were something special. They had two name changes during this period, dropping “Way” and becoming Leggatts Old Boys for the 1973/74 season and merging with Sunday side Evergreen to take their name for the 1980/81 season, moving to their current ground at South Way. During this period they also tasted success in Herts. FA competitions, including the Herts Charity Shield, where they competed successfully against teams from more senior leagues.

At the conclusion of the 1967/68 season Leggatts Way Old Boys won the Herts. County League Premier Division title for what would be the first of five successive championships. Tudor Corinthians achieved a second successive promotion winning Division One, Sandridge Rovers won Division Two and Redbourn Reserves Division Three. Knebworth finished mid table in the Premier Division, while the Reserves finished runners up in Division Two and were promoted. Leggatts Way Old Boys failed to achieve the double being beaten by Kings Langley by two goals to one in the Aubrey Cup Final. The same four County League teams competed in the Amateur Cup with exactly the same result as the previous season.

In senior non league football Hitchin Town showed signs of recovering from the “Shamateurism” saga finishing in mid table in the Isthmian League, with Enfield winning the championship.

Stevenage Town finished just above the relegation places, in what was a very strong Southern League Premier Division but sadly resources had been stretched considerably to play at this level and the club folded.

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Mick’s Football Memories – Part 18

By now my interest in football was very much focused on non league and the North Herts. area in particular. Apart from playing for Knebworth and watching evening matches at Hitchin Town and Stevenage Town, I now started watching Letchworth Town in the Athenian League as well. Letchworth did not have floodlights at this time and opportunities to watch them were fairly limited.

The 1966/67 season saw Kings Langley win the Herts. County League Premier Division, new club Cockfosters Athletic won Division One, another new club Tudor Corinthians won Division Two and a third new club Harpenden Rovers won Division Three. Knebworth finished thirteenth out of sixteen in the Premier Division, while the Reserves finished fourth in Division Two. Leggatts Way Old Boys won the Aubrey Cup, putting seven goals past Ware Reserves, whilst conceding two in return. Four Herts. County League sides entered the Amateur Cup, Buntingford Town, Royston Town and Saffron Walden Town were all defeated in the Preliminary Round, with Rickmansworth Town losing in the First Qualifying round, having received a bye in the previous round.

Hitchin Town continued to struggle in the Isthmian League after the “Shamateurism” saga and finished nineteenth out of twenty.

Stevenage Town had a much happier time in the Southern League Division One, finishing in third place. In the Southern League promotion and relegation was on a four up four down basis, enabling Stevenage to gain promotion to the Premier Division.

The Athenian League was structured in a Premier Division, Division One and Division Two. Letchworth Town played in Division One and finished in mid table. Several Hertfordshire sides competed in the Athenian League at this time. Bishops Stortford and Hemel Hempstead Town were in the Premier Division, Hertford Town and Cheshunt, together with Letchworth were in Division One and Borehamwood and Ware in Division Two. Ware finished second and were promoted to Division One.

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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – Part 17

The 1965/66 season was a good one for Knebworth. The first team finished tenth in the Premier Division and the reserves won the Division Three title. Kings Langley won the Premier Division, ICT (Letchworth) Division One and Colne Valley Division Two. The Aubrey Cup was won by Marconi Instruments defeating North Mymms 2-1 in the final.

Hitchin Town were caught paying players while they were still an amateur club. This was known as “shamateurism” and the club were dealt with severely by the FA and made an example of. This led to an exodus of players from the club, with them finishing eighteenth out of twenty in the Isthmian League. Ironically Enfield widely known as the highest paid amateurs were never brought to task over the matter.

Stevenage Town had another good season in the Southern League Division One finishing eighth. Another Hertfordshire club, Barnet, who had not been invited to join the Isthmian League two years earlier and had won the Athenian League Premier Division during those two years, now became semi-professional. They had joined the Southern League Division One at the start of the season and won the title at the first attempt.

It was at about this time that I became aware that some Herts. County League Teams had competed in the Amateur Cup. Buntingford Town, Chipperfield, Harpenden Town, Kings Langley, Leavesden Hospital, Rickmansworth Town, Royston Town, Saffron Walden Town, Stansted and Welwyn Garden City, had all competed while being in membership of the league. During this season however only Buntingford Town and Saffron Walden Town participated, with Buntingford Town exiting in the Preliminary Round after a replay and Saffron Walden Town exiting at the First Qualifying Round.

1966 was the year the World Cup Finals were held in England and whilst not having a great deal of interest in international football I watched England’s matches out of nationalistic pride, just as I would the Olympic Games. I must admit to a great deal of satisfaction however, when we defeated our old rivals West Germany, in what was a very close final.

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