Classic programmes: Bishop’s Stortford

Today we have the pleasure of entertaining Takeley in the F A Vase. We have met before already this season in a league match, unfortunately Takeley did not read the script and ran out winners by four goals to one.

Hopefully they will not make that mistake again. Our paths have only crossed since we have been members of the Essex Senior League, so little point in showing a programme from a couple of years ago.

So, I have chosen an interesting programme against one of Takeley’s nearest neighbours, Bishop’s Stortford. Whom we first met under the Leyton banner in a pre-season Friendly game in August 1966, where we ran out winners by two goals to none. It was at a time that Bishops star was on the rise.

They had been founder members of the Delphian League since its inception in 1951 and remained there until the league was absorbed into the Athenian League for 1964/5. They did not remain in the lowest division of the Athenian League for long, being runner’s up at the first occasion.

The following season they were champions of Division One and gained promoted to the Premier Division. As a curtain raiser for the new season, they took on the reigning champions of the Athenian League Premier Division, Leyton.
When the two sides met again, this time for real, Stortford took both points and went above us and into third place.

By the time the two met for the third time the pressure was really on. Leyton led the table from Stortford, in third, by just two points, which was soon wiped out with a two-nil defeat.

Leyton still had an advantage by virtue of a superior goal average. With just six games remaining Leyton held their nerve and succeeded in dropping only one point, to Finchley. It meant Leyton had to beat Dagenham at home to have any realistic chance of retaining the championship.

Goals from Peter Greene, Brian Adams and a late header from Big John Willingham gave us the two points. It left Bishop’s Stortford to get four points from their final two games and one of those was against Finchley in third place. Stortford won that, but then could only manage a draw with lowly Hemel Hempstead Town. Thereby, handing the title, once again, to Leyton, who had a far superior goalscoring record.

For Leyton tragedy was just around the corner. In the closed season ten of the first team departed for other clubs leaving just Alan Quinnell and their dependable twelfth-man, Stan Page, to soldier on.

Had Leyton been able to hold that side together then who knows how far they could have gone. Not for the last time had Leyton’s ranks been plundered by clubs with bigger budgets.

Its all part of our rich history and if we didn’t have something to moan about, it could get rather boring.

Just like to add my two-penn’th about last weeks win at Felixstowe. A remarkable performance to having gone down to nine men, yet we were by a county-mile still the better side.

Felixstowe simply had no idea how to play against a side forced back to defend. I am not suggesting we start today’s game with nine men, Takeley will I suspect have more gumption.

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