Last night Latymer Old Boys Football Club celebrated it’s one hundred and fourteenth annual awards dinner and dance.
By sheer chance I was sat opposite the club president Trevor Syms. I have never met or indeed heard of Trevor before.
Trevor, who is now 73 years old, was a pupil at Latymer from 1949 to 1954. I was a pupil at Latymer from 1982 to 1989. Despite the gulf in years we had a teacher in common. His name was Mr Sprozen.
Mr Sprozen – known throughout the school as ‘Sproggy’ – had been a PE teacher for many years and later taught history. It was well known, though not necessarily true, that he had had an affair with a pupil. He was, in my opinion, a sadistic, misogynistic, ignoramus.
I was therefore delighted to discover that club president Trevor, a pupil more than 30 years my senior, disagreed with my assessment of Sproggy hardly at all. He summarised his own view of Mr Sprozen thus: “God yes, he was a cunt wasn’t he.”*
The 4s were very poorly represented, only me, Sam Whitehead and Simon Donouzjian having the temerity to show up after our relegation. So I was seated with the 5s who I have mentioned before are a very young team indeed. Last night I discovered why – they are 16 and 17 year olds promoted from the youth teams just this year. (Needless to say, they were on fizzy-pop all evening and tucked up in bed before ten.)
It was a good thing I was sat with them or I might never have discovered this precious, precious fact: this season there was a goalkeeper who made a gaffe so horrendous even I blushed.
In their first game they had Jamie Kemp in goal. I’ve seen Jamie play outfield several times and he’s an odd choice of goalie because even among the kiddies in the 5s he’s quite small. While attempting to clear a ball just outside the area he accidentally kicked the ball over his own head and into the goal from 20 yards. That is just absolutely superb.
I also ran into my old physics teacher Mr. Bernedes, pronounced Ber-na-deez. Mr Bernedes taught me physics in the 2nd year. I later went on to read physics at university so he can’t have been all that bad, I suppose. I’ve also learned that Barry Bernedes is the only real link that the club has to the school, and that his support of the Old Boys club is unique among the current teaching staff.
All that is very important of course but I still can’t get out of my (slightly infantile) head the fact that he was called Barry Bum-Disease by the entire school, including, I am reliably informed, by the teachers in the art department who lay claim to inventing the term.
Club captain Matt Jones, who had made the bold decision to wear light brown shoes with his dark grey suit, was master of ceremonies and after a pretty decent dinner and some very serviceable plonk, handed out the awards.
As predicted, I won the ‘most improved player’ award. I’m not going to crow about this too much because, as stated previously, the bar was set so low coming into this season that my fellow nominees stood no chance.
Having never been to one of these events before I wasn’t sure whether award winners were expected to make a short acceptance speech. I hoped they were not because that sort of thing could go on all night, but I wrote one to be on the safe side.
I would like to thank the outfield players of the 3s, the 4s, and the 5s who have played in front of me this season, and who exercised what must have been superhuman restraint in not punching me in the face.
These players have watched the gaffe-prone idiot between the sticks let balls through his legs into the goal, bounce in front of him and over his head into the goal, clear balls from the 6 yard box which bounce off a defender into the goal … in short they have watched their goalkeeper perform every single classic goalkeeping howler in the space of a single season.
The fact that, late on in the year, a ball clocked me on the shoulder while I was falling over and went wide of the post by accident represents a tremendous improvement is testament to how utterly dreadful I was at the start of the season.
I would also like to say sorry to my fellow nominees for wiping the floor with them, they never stood a chance. Although I’m not too sorry about beating Sam Whitehead who, after the Woodhouse game late in the season walked off the pitch leading a chorus of ’We were there when Rawly saved one.’
In the build up to this Matt said all sorts of nice things about me, including the fact that I have written the funniest football blog on the Internet. Which sounds fantastic until you remember that Jonesy is Spurs fan and hasn’t seen an up-beat blog entry since 1981.
I watched with pride as the 3s went up to collect their league winners medals. Hang on a minute, I hear you cry, why didn’t you get a winner’s medal? A very good question. After all I contributed to their league-winning season with three appearances from which they took only 4 points and one game in which captain Jason Pinkett, in the season round-up published in the programme, describes the opposition scoring four goals from only two and a half attempts. That was actually quite witty for Pinkett, the bastard.
Anyway, this serious oversight was rectified later by Becks who simply walked over and stole me one.
So, bedecked with medals and awards, and also quite full of wine, I sauntered about the place like I owned it. It was fantastic to be approached by so many people I’ve never met to tell me that they read this blog. Thanks very much for that.
I had to leave reasonably early because my wife is walking a marathon overnight tonight (yes, really) but I’m sure the revelry continued. Dai Baines (whom I met last night for the first time since I left school 22 years ago) assures me that he will be uploading photos to the LOBFC facebook page tomorrow so check that out.
So that’s officially the end of the season and this is probably the final post on this blog until next September, when we’ll do it all over again.
* I was paraphrasing slightly. Trevor did not actually use the C word, of course. He did however agree with my views on a more recent PE teacher, Ian Gourdie. I have it on good authority that Mr Gourdie became a teacher by accident when he was turned down for his first choice career on the grounds that the Hitler Youth were no longer recruiting instructors.