How things change
Older supporters may recall our two clashes with Blyth Spartans in the Amateur Cup in 1973.
Following a 1-1 draw in the first game at Croft Park, Blyth won a dour replay at Claremont Road 1-0. To use modern Jose parlance, they parked the bus and nicked the win.
At the time, Blyth had a midfield player called Eddie Alder. Alder was a player of remarkable stamina who was subsequently described by Billy Miller the then Leatherhead manager as "Probably the best midfield player ever to have taken part in the Amateur Cup competition."
While I suspect that both Hendon and Enfield supporters would disagree with Miller's opinion of Alder, it is worth recalling that the player went on to play a key role in Blyth's famous FA cup runs.
To get to the point of this post I idly Googled Alder's name and found he had a page in Blyth's Hall of Fame. The Hendon Amateur Cup ties are referenced and it is claimed that following our 1-0 defeat, "Hendon proceeded in offering Alder, a painter & sign writer by trade a job and house if he would move south and sign for them!
These days I imagine we would be hard put to offer a promising player a can of coke and a packet of crisps!
The Alder piece can be found at:-
I have to confess I find Blyth extremely annoying.
Apart from the fact that they beat us in the replay, I found the atmosphere at their ground the most unpleasant and intimidating I have ever experienced. People may remember poor old Ken Scarr getting a bottle across his head.
And, for the icing on the cake, the FA use to publish something called ‘The Official FA Year Book’. The 1972/73 edition includes a report of our 1972 Amateur Cup Final victory and includes the following gem:-
“As a strong supporter of Blyth said after the game, “If only Enfield had played like that against us at Newcastle, we would be taking the cup back to Northumberland tonight.”
So, let’s consider this statement. The FA practically hands Blyth the semi-final tie by staging it at St James’s Park. Despite this advantage and playing in front of a massive partisan crowd, Blyth allow Enfield to dominate the game and win 2-0.
I’ll leave readers to draw their own conclusions.
Re: How things change
Regarding the venues for FA Amateur Cup Semi Finals, it was standard practice for these to be staged at a ground local to one or other side, rather than geographically equidistant; then if there was a replay the other side would get a local venue. Not sure why, but it was commonplace.
Re: How things change
Fascinating recollections here. The imagery from that first meeting at Blyth is still crystal clear - well not entirely - as the early morning start at 6 ish from Cricklewood on a special Hendon train not only ran through dense fog for almost the entire journey, but was devoid of adequate heating. Amazingly I bumped into one of the Railway stewards in charge of that train a few months ago, when he spotted me reading a Hendon programme and immediately connected with our excursion. He recalled one of his grimmest ever journeys due to the lack of heat etc.....
Anyway, on reaching Cramlington, the fog cleared miraculously, we boarded coaches and saw the match. A fine finish from Tony Bass helped us secure the replay. The result in the replay was harsh, a blatant penalty late on not being given. (We've never hear that before!) The dying embers of the amateur days....
As for the Amateur Cup Final, we simply outclassed a very good Enfield side.