Saturday, 17 August 2013

Me And The Beautiful Game

It's a lot easier to fix memories now that we have Google. 

Matson, Gloucester. The rec.  I am ten years old, and a string of gorgeous sounds are rolling around my head and sliding off my tongue as I pull myself higher and higher on the hard wooden seat of the least rickety of the swings. "Tott- en -nam  Hot-spur, Tot-n'm Hots- pur ... I repeat to myself over and over again as I sail into the clouds. 

I just checked out on Wikipedia. In the 1960/61 season Tottenham Hotspur became the first club in the 20th Century to complete The Double. Which I have gathered over the years,  means winning two Important Football  Trophies. 

So I WAS ten, then, and would have been eleven the following October, supposing that League and Cup Finals would have been over and done with sometime in May 1961.

My father, and all men of my somewhat limited acquaintance, back in 1961, were either cricket or rugby fans. The rec where I swung, climbed and scrumped  my early years away, shared the green space with Matson Rugby Club- in my day, adjacent, as you may have gathered, to an orchard. Not now though: Farmer Peacey sold out, and Peaceys Farm is now a housing estate and Country Club. His meadows and woods, a ski resort, God forgive him. 

So that's why, in part, football did not much dwell in my heart, or impinge upon my consciousness when I was young. Add to this the quaint habit in those days, of separate boys' and girls'  playgrounds, and you can see that I didn't even get to watch a game! Girls participation was a complete no-no. We girls did handstands that showed our knickers and threw two balls against the schoolhouse wall and chanted:

'Down Lover's Lane
The people are so funny
If you want to see then you have to pay some money
Soldiers half-a- crown
Sailors half-a-guinea
Big Fat Men
Two Pound Ten
Little girls a penny!' 

Psychologists these days would have a field day with THAT one, to say nothing of the criminal justice system via the Safeguarding Office. Fortunately, decimalisation killed it off  - and all my attempts to revive it via my six year-old granddaughter, have fallen on deaf ears. As did this skipping rhyme:

'I know a boy who's double-jointed
He kissed Mary and made her disappointed.
All right, Mary, I'll tell your mother
Kissing Graham Wright 
Behind the counter.
How many kisses did you give him? 

One ... Two ... Three ...'(And so on until you mis-step and are OUT.) 

It's just dawned on me what an impact my aural past has on my present. ( I write, dragging myself reluctantly back to Football.) 

My father then, did not follow football, but he did The Pools.

I expect The Football Pool is still running in a more sophisticated form today My dad would pick eight numbers that would correspond to the number on a list of FA games being played on any given day. There were 92 clubs, so around 45 games played then. At least. Every Saturday tea-time, we'd sit down round the table watching dad check his coupon,  all ears  glued to the Results programme on the TV. James Alexander Gordon, with his golden-syrup voice would read the scores with a thrilling cadence of more of those wonderful, lilting sounds:

Bolton ... One.   Crew Alex-AND-er TWO! (Away win, Two Points!!  ) the object of the exercise was to pick eight draws ( the magic 24 points) to win the Jackpot! Which, as advertised by Littlewoods on every bus for EVER stood at £75 000. 

Dad never won the Pools, but that's how the Sound of the Game took precedence in my mind over the Fury. 

The Scottish teams are best: Queen of The SOUTH  ... Heart of MidLOTHian ... Fantastic.

I have grown bored. I'm afraid football does this to me. So I shall stop there, and send you off to You Tube so that you can listen to James Alexander Gordon for yourself. Just Google it.

This is Matson, Gloucester. The Rugby Club is pinned, and if you head up a-ways, you'll find Capel Rd, where I grew up. second house on the left. 


  1. From my childhood friend, Carol:

    Thought I would leave a comment on Quodlibet (the Beautiful Game) but couldn't, maybe because it was much more than a comment! So here it is....

    Ahhh...that brings back memories for me. Like you I also skipped along to the Beautiful"double jointed" rhyme but don't think I've heard of the other rhyme. Do you remember "in and out the bluebell windows", "over the garden wall, I let my baby fall" (!), "One,two,three O'Leary" (ball game), "What's the time Mr Wolf?"

    Do kids do any of these any more I wonder.

    The Hula Hoop craze from the U.S. and one which I spent hours trying to perfect in the garden along with Roller skates. How I loved, still love ,them.

    Back to the Beautiful Game. My dad was a Pools man but never won a fortune but as with all lotteries, hope springs eternal.

    Now Farmer Peacey is a blast from the past of a more peaceful and rural way of life that was just round the corner.

    I can picture him walking down the lane, stick in hand,gently encouraging his cows into a... What? I don't know. My memory stops there but I'm pleased to still have the picture in my head.
    Yes! I see your house...and mine too nearby (122 Matson Avenue).

    Fond memories.

  2. Found it!

    Thanks, Carol. Note I have also fixed the Me/I business in last week's post!