‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Five-a-side Soccer, The Judean, Spalding and Trauma! We Were Robbed! Twice!

‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Hippy Attempt on the Summit of Mount Snowdon. What Foolish Things We Did as Students! Cup of Tea Tales

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  2. ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Ashworth’s Sweet-Shop, Harehills. Sweets, Victory V Lozenges, Sweet Cigarettes and Other Delights We Have Lost Over The Years. 
  3. ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – A’ Levels, the Final Year at High School, Planning to Leave Home, Getting into College and Growing Older if Not Wiser.
  4. David’s Bookshelf Issue 5
  5. ‘Cup Of Tea Tales’- Remember, Remember the Fifth of November – Bonfire Night Shenanigans! Not Fun for Everyone!

Once I went to high school, I started playing rugby union and until I discovered girls and music, that was my sport. Pete and some of my other friends were quite keen on soccer. In fact, Peter still plays, and he is a few years older than me, which is impressive. At Roundhay School, we used to play football during breaks and lunch. I can’t say I have a bent for it, but I was always willing to have a go at most sports. Lidgett Methodist Youth Club had details for a five-a-side competition and Peter and some others organised a team. I know Chris M, Stuart S, Peter, one other and myself formed a team. I was to be the goalie, mainly because I was stupid enough to throw myself around onto the hard gym floors, particularly at the feet of opponents who were going to score. I think it was the shock of some idiot diving towards them that put them off and the small size of the goals that allowed me to save the goals, rather than any skill, but as no one else wanted the job, I had it. This was also how I became a bass guitar player in the band. No one else wanted to do it. The others were quite talented and together we put together a half-decent team.

My memory is a little hazy, but I believe that there was a competition that took place at the Judean Club at Moortown, where they had a great indoor soccer facility. It was a good size, and the rules allowed the ball to be played off the walls. This would have been around 1971. As keeper, I was the only one allowed to handle the ball and there was a small D zone where no attacking players could enter. The goals were much smaller than standard goals, but it was quite possible to score if the keeper stayed on the line. As a result, I developed my famous ‘charge at the player who had the ball’ approach, making myself as wide as possible with the hope of either blocking the shot, grabbing the ball or at least putting the attacker off. When I had the ball, I had to roll it out quickly to a free player to enable them to score. Speed was the essence of this game and even though we had games of about seven minutes a half, it was frenetic and stamina played a major part. I could come out of the goal area as long as I didn’t use my hands and I could intercept any free balls.

We played in the first competition and did quite well. I am not sure if there was a league, but we played regularly for a while.

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On one of these occasions, I was wearing my brand-new Levi Jacket. I was very proud of it, but my mother wasn’t as keen. She had given me the money to buy a jacket, but this was not the kind she had expected. We got changed for our games, and we left our kit in the changing room. When we had finished playing, we returned, and it was then I discovered my jacket was missing. I never got it back. I was really upset, but there was nothing I could do but learn from the lesson.

The next time we entered, we did better than well and won the local round. As winners, we had to take part in another knockout competition to decide who would represent the City of Leeds. This one took place in one of Allerton Grange’s gymnasiums on a Saturday afternoon. There were several courts used at a time and the format was the same as we were used to. There were lots of teams and supporters and it was a bigger event than we expected. We had quite a crowd of friends and people from the youth club of our own and they could watch the games from the balconies. At the start, there were a lot of spectators, but as the day developed, the support waned. It was definitely more exciting playing than watching. We were proving to be a force to be reckoned with, and in the end, it was between us and another team. We played this game with a large audience, but I noticed that my girlfriend at the time was missing.

The final was played with passion and a few frayed tempers at some of the physical tackling. I threw myself about with total abandon as we had to win or else that was it for the competition. Our team had become used to playing in these conditions and it all seemed to work that day. Our players passed well, tackled hard, were fitter than the opposition and scored lots of goals and we ended up winning. We were ecstatic, and the youth leaders were particularly pleased. The club got recognised, and we had to go on and represent Leeds City as part of the national competition. There was to be a disco/dance back at the club that evening and the mood was high, as we were victorious. I discovered that whilst we were playing, my girlfriend had been messing about with another of our friends, Paul, (Not New Zealand Paul). I had wondered why I hadn’t seen her during the final and eventually, she told me. This didn’t please me and was the only blot on an otherwise momentous day. That evening at the disco, I walked in. I saw said friend, walked straight over to him and explained the error of his ways in the Basil Fawlty/Manuel method by thumping him once. Now I don’t condone violence, but it felt bloody marvellous!

As winners, we had to go represent Leeds City and play away against the Lincolnshire winners at Spalding a few weeks after our success. The club hired a coach and a day trip was arranged. Up to this point, we didn’t have a team strip, and Chris felt we should have one. He arranged to buy one, and he appeared with a set of Liverpool soccer shirts. They were yellow with a red stripe, the bird emblem, and the letters LFC. Why, you might well ask, would we wear a Liverpool shirt? The answer was that Chris thought the LFC could stand for the Lidgett Football Club. This question was also asked by supporters in Spalding and took a bit to explain. I would have thought a Leeds United shirt would have been far more appropriate, but at least we looked like a team. I believe I even splashed out and bought a pair of goalie gloves.

The day came and an excited group of teenagers and club leaders boarded the coach for Spalding. We felt we had a good chance. We were fast, played a mean game, and had beaten all the teams we had come across. Looking fairly smart, if not a bit puzzling, in the yellow and red striped shirts, shorts, training shoes and socks. The journey was long, full of winding country roads and many were feeling a little sick by the time we arrived. Lincolnshire is flat as a pancake, rural, and as we arrived, we could see no sports centre at the place we pulled up. What we saw was a grass soccer pitch, reduced in size, but with goals much larger than we were used to. We were flabbergasted. This couldn’t be right.

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The local side had a huge fan base, and we were welcomed, not at all. There were jeers, comments on our Liverpool strip, and about our footwear. Cedric and the other leader were similarly confused and went in to discuss what was going on. Eventually, they came out to tell us we had to play under these conditions. It was apparently all under the rules, even though none of us had ever heard of five-a-side played on a grass pitch outside. I can tell you, we were far from pleased. We discussed not playing, but that would mean forfeiting the game. I know if we were back in Leeds, we wouldn’t have played. We would never have taken to the pitch, as we stood no chance. They wore boots with studs, shin pads, and the pitch was wet and muddy. In our trainers, we couldn’t get any traction. There was no rebounding the ball off the walls and basically, it was a totally different game. It was very disappointing and I know the leaders shared our disappointment. We were humiliated! Five strapping rural lads, with shin pads, boots and familiarity with the ground and rules, thrashed us. The goals were much bigger and they could just pick a spot and blast it past me. I threw myself around, but this time it was of no use as I couldn’t narrow any angles and the goals just sat open. In fairness to my friends, they didn’t blame me. None of us could keep our feet in the mud. Thick clods stuck to our feet and running was impossible. All the skills and subtlety we had honed were useless. They just stood and took pot-shots at the goal. I think the score was over ten nil and they showed no mercy whatsoever. At least the refreshments they provided were good. Afterwards, it was a very subdued and downhearted team and coach of supporters that returned to Leeds. What had promised so much was snatched away from us in unfair circumstances, much like a lot in life. The injustice of this has stayed with us all, which is a shame.

We started playing soccer at weekends on the Soldiers’ Field and sometimes in the Arena at Roundhay Park. These were friendly games, and that summer was a long hot one. After the games, we would go for refreshments at The Lakeside Cafe. It was a wooden building with a kiosk near the entrance, with a more formal cafe inside. I had always thought it was an old tram shed, but apparently not, and was the bus terminus. It was on the site of the current children’s playground near the car park and across from the Boat House Cafe, which in the 1960s and 1970s was just a boat house. At weekends, The Lakeside Cafe would be the gathering place for teenagers with lots of scooters parked outside, their chrome fairings and mirrors gleaming in the sun. I never saw any trouble there and motorcyclists (Rockers) and scooter riders, (Mods) seemed more interested in ice-creams and girls.

I think we carried on playing five-a-side the following year, at the Judean. We never enjoyed the same success, but were always competitive. We went there socially as several friends were members and we sometimes saw bands there. I remember one lad was a really talented guitarist, but his name slips my memory. I can’t remember how it was arranged, but our rock band, Atlantis, was booked to play a concert at the Synagogue that was near Moortown Corner, but that will have to wait for another tale.

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I did come out of retirement from my rugby hiatus for one last fling. The Lidgett Youth Club was to enter a team for a seven-a-side competition. This was an all-day event and as I had been a passable scrum-half, or wing-forward, I was keen to play. I can’t remember who exactly was in our team, but I suspect many of my Roundhay friends would have made up the team. The standard of the competition was very mixed, and the difference in ability shows more in rugby than soccer. We won most, if not all, of our games, but before the afternoon was over, there was a maul on the wet and muddy pitch. Somehow, my leg was stuck in the middle of several bodies on the ground, piled over the ball. I can’t remember how it happened, but I couldn’t pull my leg out. As if in slow motion, a lad, rather plump and not very skilful, (not sure if I can say that nowadays) dived onto the top of the pile of bodies. I knew I was going to get hurt, but there was nothing I could do. The boy, in freefall, landed against my leg, throwing my body sideways. As my leg was stuck, it bent sideways from the knee. Knees are not designed for such movement and the joint had no way to go. The pain was instant, and I knew I had hurt myself. Or should I say, he had hurt me. The whistle went, bodies were pulled up, and I was left on the ground in agony. I was taken to hospital, probably St James’s. I had torn ligaments and goodness knows what and they bandaged the whole of my leg from ankle to thigh in a wadding of cotton wool, like a soft plaster. It wasn’t broken, but it took a week or two to start to improve. It was the first time I had ever suffered any accident or injury, up to this point, and it made me realise I was mortal. It was the last time I ever played rugby, and I’m not sure if that is a shame or not. I don’t think we won the competition, but we were close, so I was told.

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