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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 10

In May 1960 I watched arguably the best match I have ever seen on television. It was the European Cup Final between Real Madrid, including DiStefano and Puskas and the German champions Eintract Frankfurt. The game was played at Scotland’s Hampden Park in front of a crowd of 135,000, which I believe is still a record for a European club competition and is unlikely ever to be beaten. Real Madrid won 7-3, literally at a canter, securing their fifth successive victory in the competition.

For the 1959/60 season the Herts. County League had reconstituted it’s divisions into a Premier Division, Division One, Division Two, and Division Three, absorbing reserve sides into this structure and abolishing the Reserve Section. The only stipulation being that no two teams from the same club could play in the same division. At the conclusion of the season London Colney won the Premier Division, Marconi Instruments Division One, Leavesden Hospital Reserves Division Two and St.Helens Reserves Division Three. Knebworth finished in mid table in Division One and the reserves lower mid table in Division Three. The Aubrey Cup was won by Colney Heath.

In the Amateur Cup Hendon beat Kingstonian by 2 goals to 1.

The 1960/61 season was much less eventful. In my last year at school I continued to play for the school team and North Herts. Schools. I had started to think about what I wanted to do as a career after I left school and had decided I wanted to join the ground staff at Molineux. Sadly this was never going to be a reality, although one school mate did join the Luton Town ground staff. Wolves were to finish third in the Football League, behind champions Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham had an excellent team and achieved what Manchester United and Wolves had failed to do and became the first team this century to achieve the league and FA Cup double. This was to be the beginning of the demise of the great Wolves team and players who had given me so many happy memories.

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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 9

The 1959/60 season was one of an emotional rollercoaster. I had recovered from bronchitis and was again selected to play for the school team. As the season progressed, much to my surprise, I was selected to play for North Herts Schools, together with two other boys from Heathcote School. This was a wonderful experience, playing most of our home games at Hitchin Town’s Top Field ground. We also had opportunity to play at St.Albans City’s Clarence Park and Cambridge City’s old Milton Road ground, which was huge.

Wolves did much better in the European Cup, reaching the Quarter-Finals, where they met Barcelona. I then watched on what was now a much larger fifteen inch television screen as Barcelona destroyed them 9-2 on aggregate, winning the first leg in Spain 4-0 and the return leg at Molineux 5-2. I watched both matches and screamed at the television, blaming the referee and anyone else I could think of for the devastating defeat.

Wolves did however reach the FA Cup Final and were to play Blackburn Rovers at Wembley. I managed to obtain a ticket and as a fourteen year old boy travelled alone by train to Wembley Stadium. Just as I was now travelling from Knebworth to Molineux, unaccompanied, and regularly by bus to Hitchin Town. I never felt in any danger or vulnerable, as people were generally happy and there was virtually zero violence. My, how times have changed.

When I arrived at Wembley Stadium that day I saw Wolves beat Blackburn Rovers 3-0, in a very one-sided match. It was not the best game to watch, littered with offsides but all that mattered to me was the result and I came home very happy.

That day Wolves sat at the top of the Division One league table, having finished their league program a point and a better goal average ahead of Burnley, who had one game to play. Just like Manchester United who failed three years earlier, if Wolves won the league they would be the first team to complete the league and cup double this century and would also achieve a hat trick of league championships. Burnley played their remaining league match on the following Monday evening and won it, hence clinching the league title and denying Wolves the double. I was distraught and thought there was not much left to live for.Progs promo
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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 8

The 1958/59 season was a difficult one for me personally, as I had severe bronchitis and was unable to play for the school team.

It was also a poor start to the season for Wolves, who in their first venture in to the European Cup were beaten at the first hurdle by unfancied Schalke 04, the West German champions, by 4 goals to 3 on aggregate. This was particularly disappointing after the success of all the floodlit friendlies under the Molineux lights against the best teams in Europe. However despite this setback Wolves were to retain the First Division championship, beating Fulham 9-0 along the way. After the events of the previous year Manchester United were invited to enter the European Cup but withdrawn by the Football League.

This was the season when Luton Town reached the FA Cup Final and the village emptied out en masse, as it seemed everyone had gone to Wembley to support them. I watched the game on television and particularly in the first half Nottingham Forest were unstoppable and raced in to a two goal lead; the first goal being scored by Roy Dwight, uncle of Elton John. Luton did get back in to the game in the second half and scored but it was not to be and the game finished 2-1 to Nottingham Forest. Luton had several international players in the team that day, the most capped of which was the Irish winger Billy Bingham.

Knebworth’s improvement continued finishing in mid table in the Herts County League Division One. They entered a reserve team in the newly formed Reserve Division “B”, which also finished in mid table. Colney Heath were Premier Division champions, Tabulator Sports won Division One, Leavesden Hospital reserves won Reserve Division “A” and de-Havilland (Leavesden) reserves won Reserve Division “B”. The Aubrey Cup was won by London Colney.

The European Cup was won by Real Madrid for a fourth successive season beating Rheims 2-0 and The Amateur Cup was won by Crook Town, defeating Hertfordshire side Barnet 3-2 in the Final.

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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 7

At the start of the 1957/58 season I moved up to Heathcote Secondary Modern School, where I was fortunate enough to be selected to play for the school team. The school played in an organised league against teams, from the North Herts. and South Beds. area, including Barclay School, Baldock School, Bessemer School, Etonbury School and Pixmore School. In our first season we were fortunate enough to win the league, despite being pushed hard all the way by Barclay School.

It was also a good season for Wolves, winning the First Division Championship for the second time. In the FA Cup Bolton Wanderers defeated Manchester United by two goals to nil. This was only a short time after the Munich air disaster. Manchester United had played the first leg of the semi-final of the European Cup in Milan and drawn three-all with AC Milan. On the way home the plane had landed at Munich and on attempting to take off during freezing conditions the accident occurred. Milan contested the European Cup Final and lost 3-2 to Real Madrid after extra time, making it a hat trick of wins for the Spanish side.

Knebworth had a slightly better season in the Herts. County League Division One, managing to win 8 out of 24 matches. They again did not enter a reserve side into the competition but a new team, English Electric, entered Division One. They were the predecessors of BAC and would ground share with Knebworth for this season, until their Bragbury End facility was ready, they finished bottom of Division One.

Leavesden Hospital won the Premier Division and Allenbury’s Association Division One. Dickinson’s (Croxley) won the Aubrey Cup, defeating London Colney 4-3 after a one-all draw.

The Amateur Cup was won by Woking, defeating Ilford 3-0.

Whilst not being greatly interested in international football I watched the 1958 World Cup Final, which was won by Brazil, beating hosts Sweden 5-2. In the Brazilian team that day was a young Pele and on the right wing Garrincha, a player who had been so badly crippled by polio as a young boy, that he had to wear his right boot on his left foot and vice versa. He was the outstanding player that day in a team that contained so many superbly talented individuals.

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Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 6

My great interest in amateur and non-league football started when I watched the 1956 Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Corinthian Casuals. The match ended in a one all draw and was watched by 100,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium.

Bishop Auckland subsequently won the replay 4-1, in what was the second of a hat trick of wins in the competition. They were the most successful club in the history of the Amateur Cup, winning it a total of ten times. Watching this match inspired a love and interest in amateur football, particularly at the top end, Northern League, Isthmian League and Athenian League which has lasted to this day. This in turn led to an interest in semi-professional football and the Southern League in particular. Several Hertfordshire clubs had considerable success in the Amateur Cup, including Barnet, Bishops Stortford, Hitchin Town and St.Albans City. This interest led to me visiting Hitchin Town on many occasions during their time in the Athenian League and I continued to watch them after they were invited, and accepted an offer, to join the Isthmian League in 1963.

The 1956/57 season was a disappointing one for Wolves with them finishing sixth in Division One behind Manchester United, who were champions. Aston Villa won the FA Cup, beating Manchester United by two goals to one, hence preventing them from being the first team this century to complete the league and cup double.

The season however was even more disappointing for Knebworth FC as they finished bottom of Division One in a re-constituted Herts. County League, without winning a game. Their final record being Won 0, Drawn 4, Lost 20. There was a photograph of this team, with a caption underneath it, which hung in the old pavilion at Knebworth Rec. for many years. Knebworth did not enter a reserve team into the league this season. London Colney won the Premier Division and Dickinsons (Croxley) won Division One. London Colney, unlike Manchester United, completed the league and cup double, defeating Colney Heath 2-1 in the Aubrey Cup (League Cup) Final. The Aubrey Cup had been donated to the league by the Aubrey family from Redbourn after the Great War. The original trophy was replaced for the 1952/53 season.

Bishop Auckland completed a hat trick of wins in the Amateur Cup, beating Wycombe Wanderers 3-1 and Real Madrid retained the European Cup, defeating Fiorentina 2-0. Manchester United became the first English team to enter the competition.

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