Twenty years ago today my live football fascination began. It was my first outing to a paid match (having previously watched my dad play at Apperley village hall for Apperley FC). The game was at White Hart Lane where a Spurs team containing Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker beat Sheffield United 4-0. Paul Walsh scored a hattrick and Nayim got the other. I was already a Tottenham fan by my dad’s influence but this first outing sowed the imperishable seed that yields the lillywhite flower displaying my perennial allegiance today.
That said, having grown up in Apperley my local team is Cheltenham and I have been a follower of ‘The Robins‘ since the mid-nineties. In that time we’ve experienced so much relative success. Our ascent through the football league has taken in two victorious play off finals (one against arch-rivals Rushden and Diamonds), two promotions to and from the football Conference in three years, and the FA Trophy victory at Wembley in 1998.
The Trophy final was preceded by an epic semi-final second leg 2-2 draw away at Dover which is possibly my greatest footballing memory -it’s either that or the 2-1 victory at Rushden’s Nene Park which crucially put us ahead of them in the push for promotion to the football league. Cheltenham Town Football Club are now managed by one of the former players of the aforementioned glory years, Mark Yates, so if you’re a visitor to Cooks Green Cottage and you’re in to football I’d very much recommend a trip to watch Cheltenham Town FC at Whaddon Road.
And if you’re a fan of grass roots football then we’ve got just that up in the village. Apperley FC, founded some time around the early eighties, would have been where I first saw any sort of match played. -My dad, in the days of his pony tail, playing the thuggish enforcer …can you imagine that?! The team, whose junior ranks (The Apperley Eagles!) I played for before moving on to Tewkesbury Town (not to be confused with the original Tewkesbury Dynamos), has now merged with Tewkesbury Dynamos and goes under the name of Apperley and Tewkesbury Dynamos, but they still play on Sunday mornings at Apperley Village Hall.
So, today marks the 20th anniversary of my footballing life, upon which my education has spanned from the grass roots of Apperley through my local club Cheltenham Town and to the dizzy heights of Spurs in the Champions League (and in fact even further beyond as I followed one of the world’s biggest clubs, Barcelona, at El Camp Nou whilst living in the city and have been a travelling England fan, for my sorrows, for six years now, seeing them both at home in qualiifiers and abroad in Euro 2004 and the World Cup 2010 …but these are stories for other days). 20th October 1990 was that day that shaped my footballing future and tonight, twenty years on, Spurs play what is probably their biggest match in my lifetime, away at Inter Milan in the Champions league. A repeat of the scoreline twenty years ago will do nicely 🙂