The Village Footballer
All-time great local footballers
I could be wrong but I get the impression that our beautiful game isn't quite as beautiful as it use to be, especially at local level. True to form I was in my Club the other night with a pint near to hand and we were discussing village football. At no time during our little chat did we find it necessary to phone a friend or ask our fellow members; we all agreed, and this was our final answer, that things are not as they use to be.
Years ago I was one of five brothers who played in the same village team and on one or two occasions we made up the entire forward line. If one brother had the misfortune to make a bad pass he was soon sat upon by the other four and it didn't top there. Later on over our evening meal the castigation's would still go on. I also have two sisters who would join us at the table, pulling their hair out at all of this football nonsense. Should you come across two bald headed Ladies, do as you wish, but please don't mention my name.
With Mother and Father this made a grand total of nine of us so you can imagine the washing Mother had to do with such a large family and there certainly wasn't any washing machines in those days. It seem that every village football team in my day had certain individuals who stood out from the rest of us. A player who readily springs to mind was Kenny Merrison of Wereham, who played for Methwold for a number of years. Kenny's ball control with his right foot was out of this world, he could almost make the ball talk. His left foot I am sure he brought along just to stand on. In my view a very, very skilful player. His 'partner in crime' at that time was Benny Cox and what a contrast. Just as Kenny couldn't kick with his left foot, Denny couldn't kick with his right. But what a tremendous left foot he had and my golly could he run; a couple of players who could terrorise any defence.
At Northwold we had Jack Chapman and if my memory serves me well how often did I see Jack roaring down the left wing always with a large handkerchief in his hand. I never did know why. And then what of his brother Reg, a superb player? How it was that he was never snapped up by a League Club I shall never know. When I see footballers on T V today who can only kick with one foot I still think of Reg. He could kick with both feet although I agree not at the same time.
Other names come to mind, all excellent players; Bryan and Tony Cater, at that time from Whittington, the Briston Brothers, Frank and Sid from Stoke Ferry. But I am more than aware that I have only just touched the surface, the list would be endless. Am I just wallowing in nostalgia? Or were these players that good, and I honestly think they were. In my day just about every village lad played football, whereas today the modern lad has the opportunity to take up a diversity of interests. Will those good old days return? History has a habit of repeating itself, so it may well do. In any case I have always considered that whatever sport or activity it is, it is much better to participate rather than just watch. After all if you have the chance to take part then do so, one day you may not.