|Matches of Yesteryear - Yeading v U's 12/11/94|
Written by wessex_exile on Friday, 21st Feb 2020 21:40
I had a chat earlier this week with my neighbour, Head Groundsman at Forest Green, lamenting the interminably dreadful weather we’ve been experiencing, and he wryly asked the rhetorical question ‘do you know when it last wasn’t raining – October!’. Not literally, but it does feel like it right now, and all but the most pristine of surfaces are really starting to creak at the seams now. The news that there’s a pitch inspection at 9am tomorrow does not fill me with hope, particularly as I’ll be halfway to Birmingham by then…
Yeading v Colchester United
Saturday 12th November 1994
FA Cup (First Round)
Match #45 of the series, and we’re back in FA Cup action, and I think for only the second time the Matches of Yesteryear random match selector has chosen a game under George Burley as manager. The first round of the FA Cup, and we faced a tricky tie at non-league Yeading, many years before an eventual 2007 merger with their near-neighbours to become Hayes and Yeading United. At the time of this match, Yeading were in the middle of a bit of a purple patch in their history, having been promoted to the Isthmian Premier Division in 1991, and were on quite run in that division when we met. I don’t have the programme for this match, for reasons I’ll go into below, so I have gratefully borrowed this image from Graeson’s ColUData website.
I do, however, still have my ticket stub, and again with good reason, because it was all-ticket for the U’s faithful, who I think (if memory serves) numbered 800 on the day, in an official capacity crowd of 1,500 – there weren’t that many left in the ground by the end, that’s for certain.
I travelled over to this match on the train, arriving in what I thought was good time to grab a taxi from Hayes train station to the ground. Now, this is where things started to go a bit wrong. I’d got it into my head, because I recall at the time there was comment that Yeading actually played in Hayes – I’m not sure where I heard that, and on reflection, it was probably meant as Yeading played in the borough of Hayes. I took it to mean the match was at the Hayes FC ground, which at the time was (I think) at Church Rd. After a longer than expected wait for a taxi at the station rank, imagine the slight bemusement of the taxi driver when I insisted (in my Col U shirt) that I wanted to go to Hayes FC. Still, who was he to argue, and we duly set off. It wasn’t that far, but after travelling through streets clearly not thronged with supporters and dropping me off at a ground with suspiciously little (i.e. zero) activity going on, I realised I’d made a horrible mistake – well, two actually, because my ride was off down the road without a backward glance.
Back in the days before smartphones, satnav and GPS, I had at least remembered to travel with my trusty and battered copy of the London A-Z, so after much feverish leafing through pages, I realised where I needed to be. This was at least 20 minutes walk away, and it was 2.45pm – ah well, time to get on Shanks’s Pony double-quick. Fortunately, winding my way through the suburbs of Hayes, I met up with a very dubious looking chap who appeared willing to help me on my way. Grateful for his help had perhaps dulled my stranger-danger radar a tad, and when he asked if he could see my ticket, like an idiot I handed it to him as we traipsed through the streets. In an instant, my inner alarm bells were ringing – he looked a handy sort, I’m definitely not – what if he then decided to leg it, or crack me over the head, take my cash, and then leg it? Not quite snatching it back out of his hand (well, I didn’t want to appear rude), I did more or less take it straight back out of his hand, whilst he was holding what turned out to be the stub – and both halves duly separated. However, it turned out he wasn’t the near-do-well I thought he might be, returned the stub, and genuinely did point me on the quickest route to the ground.
The U’s lined up:
Before we get to the match, it’s worth highlighting one particular player for Yeading that day, none other than Kyung Hoon Park (I believe to the Koreans it is Park Kyung-hoon). Not necessarily a household name admittedly, but back then he had played nearly 100 internationals for Korea, including two World Cups! I didn’t know the background at the time, but apparently this was something arranged by Spurs.
I eventually arrived at the ground ten minutes after kick-off, and with no programme sellers to be seen. After explaining the story of my ticket and stub separation debacle to the chap at the turnstile, I was begrudgingly admitted into the ground, and took up a place near the front of the small terrace allocated to and packed out by the U’s faithful. Our supporters were also thronged 2-3 deep around the pitch perimeter fence behind the goal and on the opposite side – proper non-league stuff, reminded me of a number of trips during our Conference years. After my nightmare journey getting to the ground, I was both elated and deflated to discover when I got in that I’d already missed Kinsella’s opening goal for the U’s, but heyho – here goes for a comfortable victory and safe passage into the second round I thought.
However, on a pitch that was not good at all, Yeading clearly hadn’t read the script, and getting back into the game as the half progressed, drew level just before halftime with a headed goal by the fantastically and outrageously named Johnson Hippolyte. This prompted the start of some agricultural banter between our supporters on the terraced section, and a crowd of equally vociferous supporters on the other side of a segregation barrier formed of some rather flimsy and hastily constructed heras fencing. This was just the start…
Into the second half, and our footballing skill, despite the playing surface, began to show through again, and it wasn’t a surprise when Abrahams put the U’s back in front after a dreadful fumble from their goalkeeper. Bedlam ensued amongst the faithful, with yet more goading of the disgruntled supporters on the other side of the fence. However, this didn’t last that long, and when Phil Dicker drilled home for Yeading to again bring the scores level, it prompted a charge at the fence by the Yeading supporters, to be more than matched by a group of the U’s supporters, who did their level best to pull down the fencing to allow a more physical exchange of views. Remarkably, the fencing just about held, stewards more or less restored order, and the game entered the final 20 minutes with the U’s more hanging on than anything else, clearly happy to get the f’ck out of Dodge with the draw, and finish the job at Layer Rd.
Now we come to the final, and most memorable moment of the match (not in a good way). With about 5 minutes to go, and Yeading doing all of the pressing to snatch a winner, I became aware of a column of 20+ Met police filing into the terrace area behind me. At first I assumed they were actually going to position themselves along the segregation fence to prevent any further altercations between the two sets of supporters. How wrong was I – at what must have been a preordained signal, they just veered left up into the U’s supporters on the terrace, clearly intent on grabbing those they perceived as the ring-leaders amongst the faithful.
Absolute pandemonium followed, police truncheons were flying at anyone who appeared to be in their way, supporters desperately trying to prevent both themselves and others being snatched, it was totally out of control. Old men, women, children, the police were flailing out at anyone within reach. I saw an old lad go down from a crack to the head, and those of us near the front of the terrace had to bail over the perimeter wall just to get out of the way. This was just the start of our problems, because they now had more police with truncheons – and dogs – on the pitch as well. It was one of those life-changing moments, do I choose a clubbing, or being savaged by a dog? Myself and others on the edge of the pitch were remonstrating with the policeman in charge (he had a peaked cap) that his force was out of control – for my troubles I was told to ‘f*ck off’ by the commander – nice! To be honest, it was one of the most completely out of control situations I’d ever found myself in.
Eventually, the police hauled out a number of U’s supporters and withdrew, we could get back off the pitch, and temporary order was restored for the final few minutes of the game, which needless to say finished 2-2.
Yeading 2 (Johnson Hippolyte 45’, Phil Dicker 64’) Colchester United 2 (Mark Kinsella 9’, Paul Abrahams 56’)
There had been a rumour going around the terrace that some of the ‘Yeading’ supporters weren’t quite what they seemed, and that one of the big London clubs had a firm in the ground that day – I thought it was Spurs, but thrillseeker has since confirmed it was QPR. I also hadn’t realised that the Barside and them had a bit of a ding dong in the car park after the game – I missed that, the police were clearly up for a bit more truncheon swinging, so I was out of there and on the long walk back to the station.
Having dodged our customary non-league FA Cup exit banana skin at Yeading, we made no mistake in the replay, thrashing them 7-1 at Layer Rd, where a decent pitch allowed true class to prevail. We would eventually go out 0-1 in the 3rd Round, away at Wimbledon – playing then at Selhurst Park.
I’ve found the MOTD highlights video on YouTube, which also includes a nice short feature on Kyung Hoon Park – GOSBTS, you might want to skip the first 1 minute or so…
Up the U’s
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