Last week’s results, with attendances in brackets, were:
Civil Service 1-2 Polytechnic @ Buckingham Palace (c.350)
Myddleton Arms 3-2 Camden Lions (15)
England 4-1 Montenegro @ Wembley (83,807)
Chipstead 1-6 Bishop’s Stortford (204)
Tristars 6-3 London Business School (1)
On Monday I had the privilege of watching the first football match to be played in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. There were presentations to our 150 Grassroots Heroes by HRH The Duke of Cambridge before Civil Service took on Polytechnic in a regular-season Southern Amateur League Senior Division 1 fixture, the inspired idea of the FA president.
The Service, one of The FA’s founding clubs 150 years ago and the only one still playing, met Poly, another amateur club with a long history, and it went to form. Poly, six places higher in the table, scored the opener in the last seconds of the first half and ended up 2-1 winners on an excellent surface. It was a full-on contest but World Cup Final referee Howard Webb didn’t have to produce any cards.
I had arrived at the Palace about 45 minutes before kick-off with instructions from the office to present my credentials at the ‘Garden Gate’. But this was set back from the road and I first had to speak to a security guy at the ‘Main Gate’ who asked to see my pass (I didn’t have one) and said he didn’t have a list of people invited to the match.
But a few minutes and a couple of phone calls later I was being escorted through the Garden Gate to join a crowd of around 350 at the touchlines. I would put the match in my ‘top 10 most memorable’ – out of a total of 6,524 – along with these other nine in alphabetical order…
Barcelona v Manchester United @ Wembley in 2011, Crystal Palace v Hitchin Town @ Selhurst Park in 1960, England v Poland @ Wembley in 1973, Germany v Czech Republic @ Wembley in 1996, Isle of Wight v Sark on Guernsey in 2003, Redhill v Sutton United @ Tooting in 1966, St Lucia v Grenada on Barbados in 1988, Sunderland v Leeds United @ Wembley in 1973 and Wandsworth Police Station v Uruguay @ Roehampton in 1990.
From Buckingham Palace to Market Road, Islington, and there was something unusual about Wednesday’s match. Myddleton Arms scored after just eight seconds against Camden Lions, which I think is my fastest ever. One of the match officials confirmed the time to me at the interval.
I didn’t do too badly at the weekend: three matches and 21 goals. England hadn’t won a home fixture 4-1 since Euro 96. That was on the famous ‘Orange Night’ against Holland. I was there with Dad. After Friday night’s match I walked back to Wembley Park tube and found there were no Metropolitan line trains due to a signal failure at Harrow-on-the-Hill. Fantastic.
Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Chipstead was odd too. Chips, near the bottom of the Isthmian League’s Division 1 South, were playing highly placed Conference South side Bishop’s Stortford. The underdogs had two early efforts cleared off the line, took the lead on 17 minutes via a clever free-kick routine and held it until five minutes from the break. But Stortford went to town in the second half, scoring five times without reply. Kyle Vassell now has seven goals, including four penalties, in two Cup matches. He was substituted in both!