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The End

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.


When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky


Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.


by Mark Strand (1934 – )




Saturday 31st May 2014  Herts Senior County League  k.o.:- 3.00pm

Senior Premier Division

Standon & Puckeridge                                                2

James Endacott 6,

Jan Stephens 45,

Bedmond Sports                                                         4*

Aaron Lewis 4,

Gary Sippetts 36,

Alex McCarthy 57,

Dan Campbell 79,

Referee:- Nicky Bloom                                  Attendance:- 86

*Bedmond Sports League Champions.


Graeme collected me at midday and we pottered down to Hertfordshire – not the way I would have gone, on the A1 and via Hertford, but as directed by sat-nav, down the M11 to Bishops Stortford and then along the A120. In actual fact, sat-nav decanted us in a field in the village of Little Hadham, about three miles short of  our target and we had to seek directions from a couple of friendly locals!

We got there in plenty of time, but, needless to say, we were not the first of the ‘hoppers’ on the scene! We were, however, the first to obtain programmes. The club chairman, who was “hiding” in the changing rooms, had with him around thirty or forty programmes and being the first to find him, we bagged three programmes for ourselves and Jack, who roared up the lane, flashing his lights at us, as we were walking sedately down to the local hostelry, where he shortly joined us.


Standon , the village where the football team actually play, stands on The Prime Meridien (0 degrees longitude) and it can trace its history back to the Domesday Book. There was no mention of Puckeridge in The Domesday Book, but the great Roman Roads of Ermine Street and Stane Street cross each other hard by the village.

The ‘pub’ in Standon is called The Bell and stands on The River Rib. It is a strange place.  We adjourned thence, hoping to get a drink and something to eat and there, inside the pub, we met the landlord reading his newspaper. On the wall of the bar there was a quite presentable bill of fare. He had real ale, but when we mentioned food, he was adamant: “don’t do it!”, he said. When we asked him what the menu was on the wall, he said; “don’t know!”, and that was as much as we could get out of him! We popped next door to the one-stop shop for sandwiches and crisps and enjoyed them sat outside in the garden, leaving ‘mine host’ to his newspaper


By the time we got back to the Standon & Puckeridge Commubity Centre, the crowd of ‘hoppers’ had swollen to around fifty. A similar number were down at Hannakins Farm for their match against Buckhurst Hill in The Essex Olympian League and I think that those two games were the last on the domestic front for this season (although I’m sure I’ll be proved wrong on that front!).

There were two pitches at the community centre and the main one was railed off and stood adjacent to the changing rooms and hall, with a children’s play area and a car park situated to the rear. There was a bar in the centre and tea, coffee and burgers/hotdogs were available from a small outlet at the front.

We had seen Standon & Puckeridge defeat Cuffley two weeks ago (Monday 19th May 2014 Herts Senior County League Senior Premier Division: Cuffley 0 Standon & Puckeridge 4 attendance:- 41). Today’s match, however, was to be an altogether tougher assignment. Bedmond Sports and Social had already claimed the Senior Premier Division title, but they arrived, determined to prove their championship credentials. They lost no time in establishing a lead, but by half-time, they had been pegged back to 2-2. In the second half, they stretched away like thoroughbreds as they added two further goals without reply to take the match and the points.


During the first half, I sat with an old man in his eighties from Lowestoft. He, too, was a ‘hopper’ and drove to all his matches, taking in fifty to sixty new grounds in a season. I would like to think that I, too, will be taking in the same number of matches when I get to his age!


After the game, we let sat-nav take us down to High Barnet Tube Station for the next leg of the day’s Odyssey. Jack’s waywardTom-Tom deposited him some miles off target, but he found us in the end and we boarded the tube for West London. It was a long journey, not helped by closures on the District line which necessitated two changes rather than one. We leapt off at Leicester Square to catch The Piccadilly Line down to Earls Court and took the District Line there down to Putney Bridge. The nearer we got to our destination, the more people crammed into the coaches, until at last we were able to cascade onto The Thames Embankment for a very crowded walk down to Fulham’s Craven Cottage.

Saturday 31st May 2014                  Friendly International                k.o.:- 7.45pm

Italy                                                                          0

Riccardo Montolivo (Capt.) suffered broken leg (15 mins) and will miss World Cup Finals in Brazil

Republic of Ireland                                                  0

Referee:- M. Oliver                                Attendance:- 22,879

DSCN3890Only one of these two teams would be going to the World Cup Finals in Brazil next month, The Republic of Ireland, who frequently punch above their weight at this level, didn’t make it this time, but, this evening, they were in no mood to be the whipping boys for a World Cup practice match! The crowd was pretty evenly divided between the Italian fans and The Irish fans (and a few fans of neither persuasion, like ourselves).


We had excellent seats in The Riverside Stand, but getting there, after first of all picking up the tickets and finding that we were one short and having to queue again, was a nightmare. We had to access the ground on the opposite side and then make our way ‘midst throngs of fans who were also trying to find their seats, or buying beer or food or just blocking the passage-ways. When we did finally negotiate the obstacle course, we found that we had a very good view of the game.


The game started badly for the Italians, captain Riccardo Montolivo was carried off after fifteen minutes and then attempted a return to the field of play, only to collapse again in agony.After five minutes attention, he was carted off with a severely strapped leg, His replacement, Alberto Aquilano, formerly of Liverpool, was himself substituted after receiving an injury some twenty minutes later.

My sister Margaret, lives in Milan with her partner, Luigi, and I nearly created an international incident when, having reported the two substitutions by text, I ventured to suggest that “you never can tell with the Italians. Maybe it was just tactical or maybe it was time wasting”. Luigi’s reply was less stiletto more bludgeon! “Ted”‘ he said “you are a stronzo!” In Italian, a ‘stronzo’ is a particularly foetid type of turd. Diplomacy is not my strong point!


Worse was to follow, the next day, when we found out that Italian captain Riccardo Montolivo had actually broken his leg in the incident that led to his replacement and would not be going to Brazil with the Italian team for The World Cup Finals! I ate some humble pie and sent a conciliatory, apologetic text to Luigi!


Despite the scoreline, the match was a good one. Each side had opportunities to score and each side dominated periods of play. Right at the death, The Irish struck a post, but a draw was a fair result and we waited at the end for the crowds to stream out from behind the goal to our right and then the stewards allowed us to follow them through and out of the ground by the short route, rather than returning whence we came!



It was a long journey from Putney Bridge to High Barnet, but once we had transferred to The Northern line, the  feeling of claustrophobia, caused by serious overcrowding, began to seep away as quickly as the passengers leaving the train. By the time we arrived at High Barnet, we were almost the only people left on the train!

Even then, there was the drive back to Thrapston, with the threat of closure on the A1, a threat which, happily, never materialised and we reached the service station just before 1.00am. Twenty minutes later, I was home after a pretty exhausting but exhilarating day!

Wednesday 4th June 2014   Friendly International    k.o.:- 8.00pm

Jamaica                                                        2

Simon Dawkins 27,

Joel Grant 37,

Egypt                                                             2

Mohamed El-Neny 5,

Basem Moursi 71,

Referee:- Anthony Taylor,                   Attendance:- 2,203


I drove down to Epping at the top of the Central Line and parked my car expensively and bought a ticket down to Leyton, where I met up with Jack. He had had the nous to choose the cheapest parking on the Central Line and had parked at South Woodford. He had used an app called “Parkopaedia” and his parking costs were consequently less than 10% of my charges! That’s one to remember!


We walked down to Brisbane Road from the station and I found that the journey seemed considerably shorter than on my last visit (Tuesday 7th December 2010: FA Cup 2nd Round Replay – Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2 aet. Attendance:- 1,345). When we got there, the place was pretty well deserted, so we adjourned to a local hostelry and enjoyed a brace of pints each and a couple of games of pool, before the pool table was taken over by an invasion of Jamaicans in full regimental football supporters gear!


It did seem rather strange, that Egypt should be playing Jamaica at all, never mind in East London. However, both sets of supporters lent colour and vivacity to the occasion. The Jamaican music was ear blasting in its intensity and the Egyptian horns and drums were constant and unremitting!

Jack had found excellent seats, once again, in the main stand and after a struggle we both managed to acquire team sheets. The food outlet was nothing to shout home about and there were NO programmes!

The match was excellent. Jamaica fell behind early on, but were ahead by the interval. In the second half, the Egyptians refused to succumb to the greater physical presence of the Jamaicans and had several good chances to equalise. They eventually drew level with less than twenty minutes to play. A draw was the fair result and left both teams reasonably content.

We caught the tube back to our respective car parks! Jack had the lengthier return journey to Lowestoft. My mere eighty five miles was covered in just over the hour.


Jack with his trusty camera! 

The poem at the top is not just a paean for the end of the season. More importantly, it is dedicated in honour of a fellow ‘hopper’ who recently took his own life. James Rennie, from Milton Keynes, was a quiet self-effacing young man – well, young to me, anyway – who loved his football and meeting people like himself at the various matches he went to. I last met him on the first May Bank Holiday Monday, this year, at Wembley – the football club, not the stadium – and he seemed to me then to be his usual self. Yet, within three days, he was dead. I understand that he suffered bouts of depression, that he had lost the hearing in one ear after a menacing attack of meningitis. I also read his last post on Facebook, where he renounced football altogether. That didn’t sound like him at all! I will always remember him, however, with a smile on his face and a ready quip and, most especially, someone who could talk captivatingly about football, which really was the one true passion in his life!

Rest in Peace, James

Games this season:-  231   New grounds:-  160

Games this year:-  113   New grounds:-   74




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