Classic Programme Christmas Special! Enfield FC vs Boreham Wood
Scott Knowles returns with the festive edition of his excellent series looking back on classic matchday programmes.
What with December having lumbered upon us with the heavy, smokey breath of a slightly inebriated uncle I thought what better time to write a festive edition of my largely (some would say rightfully) ignored Classic Programme column? And, I’m sure you will agree, nothing quite says Christmas like an ICIS League Premier Division clash between Enfield F.C. and Boreham Wood.
The match in question took place on the 21st of December 1996 and the opposition goalkeeper had a surname of Shepperd (which is almost Shepherd, isn’t it? Like the ones who watched their flocks by night and all that) and is enough of a feeble link for me to brand this a Christmas Special.
Page four of the programme features the thoughts of the satisfyingly named then Enfield boss George Borg, whose photograph resembles a man putting on a brave face after hearing the news that his pet cat has been set on fire. Within his notes is made mention of a defeat away to Peterborough in an FA Cup replay following a respectable 1-1 draw at home. The next league game his side faced against Kingstonian is then referred to by George as “a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show” which cruelly posits the London non-league club as the excrement to be cleared up that had been left behind by the horse Barry Fry gallantly rode through on. At the ‘Lord Mayor’s Show’ replay his side got walloped 4-1 and thus dumped from the cup with George reflecting “had Paul Moran and Saint (Martin St. Hilaire) scored their two chances toward the end of the game it would have been a lot more respectable.” By the same sort of reasoning if I had been born a girl and attended a posh school down south I could now be pregnant with Prince William’s lizard baby.
The manager’s notes column is not the last we see of Borg. He appears again later in the programme in an advertisement for Enfield F.C. newsline – an advert that, from the accompanying photograph, gives the impression that anyone ringing the number would get through to George directly. A sort of proto-Babestation with the gaffer, somewhat resembling a Poundland Joe Kinnear, reclining in his chair whilst breathily discussing possible formations or the likelihood of the left-back receiving a new contract whilst seductively playing with the zip on his Umbro tracksuit.
Elsewhere we are treated to a delightful typo in the Boreham Wood team descriptions (Anthony Samuels, a “proven goalscorer”, is revealed to have scored 23 goals in 42 appearances in the 1994/95 season and a slightly more impressive “22 goals in 5 appearances” the next), the usual array of amusing local advertisements ( ‘Starlight Suite’, billed as “London’s Top Cabaret Venue”, aims to entice you in with pictures of the by-then-so-far-over-the-hill-they-were-practically-at-the-peak-of-the-next-hill Hale and Pace and Bob Monkhouse), and what is possibly the best quiz question I have ever encountered – the unsympathetically framed “Who broke both Andy Cole’s legs in a reserve match?” (Neil Ruddock, in case you were wondering, though you likely would have been able to guess it correctly even without knowing the answer).
Anyone familiar with this column will know by now I have something of an obsession with the names of 80’s/90’s non-league players and this latest programme doesn’t let me down. What is it exactly about a name like Jimmy Carstairs that accurately suggests a left-back who spent his career knocking around the lower leagues – Brentford, Cambridge, Stockport – whilst desperately telling diminishing groups of women he started out at Arsenal and “could have been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”? Or the name Martin St. Hilaire – belonging to a man whose wikipedia page has been tragically deleted due to the fact he “never played in a fully pro league”? Or Justin Gentle – a name that simply sounds like it belongs to the worlds crappiest superhero? These names.. that were destined never to be screamed by commentators after scoring a winning goal for England at Wembley but slot so perfectly into the thud and blunder of the amateur game. Names that won’t ever appear on gaudily glitzy Sky Sports celebrations of the “100 Greatest Second Half Headers of the Premier League” but instead will be remembered in the hearts of those who brave stadiums with more than an ounce of character left in them.. the dilapidated grounds that we hold so dear.. that we return to each week despite their flaws because they are our home and we feel just as comfortable swaying in an icy breeze on that crumbling terrace as we do in our favourite armchair at home.
The final page of the programme features the usual player and official listings (the linesman are helpfully identified by the colour of the trim of their flags in case you wanted to specifically abuse them by name) along with photographs of the three mascots. The mascots in question for this particular game suffer either from their cropped 90’s haircuts or the unfortunately demonic seeming expressions they are sporting because the end result resembles the mug shots of delinquent kids caught in the act of doing something terrible like.. ooh I don’t know.. cat arson.
Perhaps George Borg should have a word. We may well have found the culprits.
Thanks to Scott for this latest article. Follow Scott on twitter: @FragileGang