Football

Nearly fifty years ago, I said good-bye to my family and friends and moved abroad to live. At that time, I would never have understood that football could play such an important part in keeping in touch with my father. But thanks to his enthusiasm for Banstead Athletic Football Club, we had something to write about in our letters to each other.

Early in his youth, he had played in local teams on Tooting Common near his home. Then he volunteered to join the army in 1914 and after a year or so training, his regiment was sent to India where they stayed until 1919.

There were plenty of opportunities for sport and he was soon playing in football matches between companies, between brigades and occasionally for other "Cup" competitions. Even when his regiment was stationed on the borders of Kashmir, with the weather growing colder every day he was out every afternoon training the team. He was an enthusiastic footballer and the sport provided him with healthy occupation to combat the boredom and homesickness from which he suffered.

Some 35 years later when my parents moved to Nork my father discovered he was within walking distance of the Tattenham Way football ground. He supported Banstead Athletic Football Club, and continued cheering them on when they moved to Merland Rise.



It is touching to re-read my father's letters today and realise how his writing to me about the football club was a way of keeping our relationship alive. At that stage in my life, football was far from my thoughts as I was still getting used to a new country, a new language and wholly engaged in my own family life. However, as I wrote home regularly, it was a usual topic to ask how the A's were getting on.

November 30th 1958, in a letter to me, he wrote:

The A's are doing well in the League. Played 7 won 6 drawn one.
33 goals for - 8 against but Farncombe won the cup (Surrey Senior) from us last week by 2 goals to 1. We held it last year.
I have your this year's Supporters' Club membership card in case you want to use it.We have a grandstand now where we can sit for ninepence. It is in anticipation of our entry into a higher League - the Corinthian League - next year- Only poor accommodation prevented this for this season.


November 2nd 1959:
Banstead F.C. are in the doldrums. They have lost the last four games.

February 15 1960:
Now some news for you Wendy, as you are a member of the B.A.F.C. Supporters' Club. The Club are below halfway in the League with 37 goals and 43 against. They have won one match in the last six games - and we are very unhappy. And it rains or snows or blows a gale every Saturday to make it worse. We will never get to Wembley at this rate.
Mr. Davis enquired about you.


1960:
Since you ask, Wendy, the A's are doing better than for 3 years and now about 1/2 way down in the League but have scored 30 goals with 21 against. And have won 5 out of 6 Cup matches and will play Redhill in the Surrey Senior Cup 2nd round in January. If we beat them and we have a chance, we will play teams like Sutton or Tooting or Mitcham in the next round.

September 8th 1963
So far the A's have won 3 matches and drawn one. A very good beginning to the season 14 goals to 7. And the team are showing very good football. I had to miss the game last Saturday of course [He was at my cousin's wedding that day]

1964
At last our football season is ended this evening when we lost the final in the Surrey Senior League Charity Cup to Feltham 3 - 1 . We have reached 3 cup finals only to lose each time although scoring 42 goals to 22 against in Cup competitions. And were 4th in S.S. League having scored 77 goals to 44 against. Which is so much better than last year.

1964 or 1965
Banstead A's have had bad luck being out of the 2 Cup competitions after 4 games. Last season we got through over 12 games even to a final before losing a 2 - 1 game. But we are on top of the Surrey Senior League with 9 games played, won 7 drawn 2 lost none and 24 goals and 4 against. So 18 points out of a possible 18 !
I have been helping to build a new brick tea hut on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings & hope to have it ready for use next week.
As you are a member of the Supporters' Club Wendy, I am sending you the club badge to wear on appropriate occasions & adorn the mantlepiece when not.

1965
The A's continue to keep in the top 5 or 6 . Boxing Day match with the champions who have lost only one match in 14 could only beat us 1 - 0 and the result could easily have been reversed.

196?
As for the A's they are bottom of the League and I don't often go to see them play. It makes me unhappy.But some will be happy as the club has commenced building a club-house complete with bar. So it is thought we will progress thereby in some direction and help drown our sorrows.

1969 or 1970
As for our football team, ugh! They have won one game in the eight this season. They play Uxbridge tomorrow in the F.A. Cup and if they lose, my mate and I will consider giving up going. It is too painful to watch.Last year we had won the first seven games.

1969
The A's are doing better this year. I've not been to all the matches but have seen them beaten only once. Even so they can't score goals like the team we had years ago. I believe they are 4 from the top. Last year 1 from the bottom! So some improvements evident. We have now a club-house. Licensed beer and a Saturday dance and booze-up. And been robbed twice.

December 29 1970
The A's are doing better now and 4th or 5th from the top and playing Dulwich Hamlet in the Surrey Cup soon, having beaten 3 teams in the competition.

December 9th ?
About Banstead Football, we have a pretty good team now and have several wins with goals for 25 and 16 against. We even had a win 8 - 0 !
And I have sold 3-5-0 worth of Xmas draw tickets to help the funds.


Thus wrote an enthusiast to the end.

 

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