DOWN MEMORY LANE
(AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF METHWOLD FOOTBALL CLUB)
World War Two was thankfully over and, during 1946, the Norfolk Football Association decided to encourage teams throughout Norfolk to compete in the Norfolk Junior Cup. Along with other villages and towns, Methwold was invited to enter a team and readily accepted.
I remember we played on the Methwold Aerodrome along the Brandon Road. There were two hangers, one now used by HLI and the other is now demolished. We used to change in one of these hangers but of course there was no bath or showers!
The football pitch was just past the second of these hangers away from the village and I remember there was a large mound of earth situated near the road and running down one side of the pitch.
I cannot remember who was on the selection committee but I do remember the Methwold Team which played in all the rounds of the Cup bar one. I do not apologise for using the old fashioned way of showing the team, which was:
Right Back Left Back
Ernest (Jockey) Armiger Dick Hopkin
Right Half Centre Half Left Half
Fred Harrison Fred Lawrence Frank (Rupert) Ayres
Right Wing Centre Forward Left Wing
Bob Watts Les Merrick Bill Smith
Inside Right Inside Left
T ed Lawrence Cecil(Nib) Ford
The first match was against Feitwell at Methwold and we got off to a flying start. We were three goals up in the first 15 minutes but then we were bombarded by a good Feltwell team. We held out to win 3-2. in my opinion this was our hardest game.
Our next two matches were against teams from Kings Lynn, namely Lynn North End and Lynn Chemicals, I don’t remember the scores but we won both games.
In the next round we played Thetford Town. Any footballer will know the thrill of competing against a team from a’ higher league’ and I suppose we must have been the underdogs. Can you imagine what an achievement it was for us to beat Thetford Town by 3-2.
On to the next round and the support for us was gathering all the time with people attending from all around. We played Hilgay and in the first half we played really well. At half time we were leading 4-2. However, just before the half time whistle Les Merrick and Bob Watts were both injured. In the second half they were virtually passengers and I suppose it was a rearguard action by us. We hung on until the last few minutes when Hilgay scored two goals and we were level 4-4. It was not the end for us though – we were awarded a free kick from near the half way line. The ball was kicked into the penalty area and subsequently into the Hilgay net Victory to Methwold by 5-4.
Now in to the semi-final and we had a home draw against Sheringham and Methwold had a good team but I suppose to progress one must have a little bit of luck and now we had a real body blow.
Les Merrick, a Methwold man, was in the Army and could not get any weekend leave and therefore for the first time we needed another player. Les would be sorely missed but we had to look around for a centre forward and the selection committee, in their wisdom, decided to choose an airman stationed locally. The nicest thing I can say on his behalf is that he must have had an off day! Sheringham scored from a penalty and we lost 1-0. We did miss Les!!
We now reach the stage of ‘if only’ because I have no doubt if Les had played we would have beaten Sheringham. It was not to be. Remember, the final of the Norfolk Junior Cup that year was played at Carrow Road Norwich and that memory would have been with us for ever. Great Yarmouth played Sheringham and beat them 1-0.
As I said earlier, the support for the Methwold Team was gathering momentum throughout our progress in the Cup and this support came not only from Methwold but also from the surrounding villages. It was really tremendous and collections of over £7.00 were taken at some of our matches.
When you consider, a man’s weekly wage was only a few pounds in those days and, in pre-decimal money, there were 240 pence in the pound. I suggest that on average a spectator would probably put a penny in the tin (or was it a hat?) which means there was at some of our matches a crowd of approximately 1600. Truly a fair indication of the support Methwold Football
I am sure we played other games during that period but that season will always stay in my memory. We really had an excellent team. Was it way back in 1946?
It seems like yesterday.