Classic Programmes – Downham Town v Stanway Rovers (17/10/1992)
The latest Classic Programme article from Scott Knowles goes back twenty years, to a match from the Jewson League.
The French philosopher Voltaire once said – “The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.” – and if you are having trouble contemplating the extent of human stupidity then my advice would be to read an interview with a footballer.
Back when the team I support were still clinging desperately to their status as a League Two side I would often purchase The Football League Paper so I could torture myself each Sunday by reading a match report of the dispiriting defeat that I had already witnessed firsthand the day before. It was a bit like eagerly perusing the local newspaper the week after you were mugged to pour over the details of the fractured cheek bone and relinquishing of one hundred and fifty quid you had suffered at the hands and/or feet of a sallow skinned youth.
One of the recurring features in said paper was a section where a number of pointless questions were aimed at a random player (because, really, who doesn’t want to know whether the Plymouth Argyle reserve goalkeeper would rather go to the Caribbean with his girlfriend/wife or Magaluf with his mates?). More often than not the answers would make you despair for the entire human race. Alan Shearer, a man whose ability to boringly state the obvious has gone way beyond the point of parody and must now be considered as a type of performance art, was often name-checked as the pundit the players most admired and The Sun was usually picked out as their newspaper of choice. I frequently found myself wondering if Megan Fox had any idea how many potential dinner party invites she had at the houses of lower league cloggers where an evening meal of beans on toast (almost always preferred to pasta) would presumably be followed by perfunctory, if not slightly aggressive, missionary position sexual intercourse.
I was reminded of this upon reaching the last page of the programme for Downham Town’s league clash against Stanway Rovers from 1992 wherein was featured a ‘Player Profile’ section that focused on midfielder Danny Davenport. Under his ‘Likes’ section he answered “Sports, Beer, and Women” and, in case the point wasn’t made clearly enough, his favourite actor/actress was later listed as “Linda Lovelace” (presumably for her roles in Deep Throat and other such titles, and not the anti-pornography activism that followed) and his favourite meal/drink revealed to be “Curry/Lager”.
Curry. Lager. Pornography. I understand that 1992 occurred during the pre-Wenger health revolution days when a muscle strain was still treated at most northern clubs by rubbing some gravy into it but such blatant pride in an unhealthy lifestyle is still quite astonishing even at this level. Towards the end of the revealing insight into the mind of the twenty-five year old Downham Town star came the revelation that his ambition was “Never to work again.” Presumably being unemployable after his football ‘career’ ended allowed him to comfortably achieve that ambition.
Elsewhere in the programme there is the usual mixture of local advertising (“Car Valeting by David Stebbings” – which almost sounds like the name of a crap perfume) and of-its-time usage of language (the Football Quiz includes the question – Name the first coloured player to captain an England team) but isn’t without some aberrant exceptions that make it worthy of inclusion here.
For example there is an article by Mr. David Stacey, the editor of the Football Programme Directory, about an unplanned visit to Downham Town FC which is charmingly recounted and includes an anecdote about a committee member 54 feet up one of the floodlights changing a bulb to save the club the £150 it would have cost to get pylon fitters to do the job for them (“I do not get travel sickness,” Stacey explains gravely, “but it is something I would not have taken on.”) which shows the lengths gone to by people involved in their local non league clubs to help keep them going.
Indeed the one thing I have noticed time and again from reading through these old programmes is the love and pride that emanates from every page – of people not taking for granted the band of loyal supporters who show up each week, often despite ‘better’ options elsewhere (during the season this programme was taken from Norwich City, whose ground is a mere one hour drive from Downham’s, finished 3rd in the then recently formed Premier League). And for all the cheap mocking I make of player names or poor quality photographs it’s impossible not to feel a real admiration for the people who work so hard to keep these clubs going, sometimes against mighty odds.
Judging by the ‘Results From Last Saturday’ page the Lynn League Premier was the place to be for anyone wanting to see copious amounts of goals. There were 5-1 wins for both Downham reserves and North Lynn, a 2-9 result between Narborough and Methwold, and six without reply for West Lynn against Denver.
Intriguingly in the Norfolk Primary Cup there was a postponement between Y.M.C.A and Gaywood. I will leave you to make up your own cheap joke for that one though.
Thanks to Scott as always for his article. Follow him on twitter: @FragileGang