I was there: 1998 Eastern Floodlit Cup Final

In 1998, the newly-formed Leyton Pennant won their first piece of silverware, beating Braintree Town 2-1 in the final of the Eastern Floodlit Cup. Supporter Charlie Ward was there…

At the time I was working in newspaper sales advertising in Oxford and decided that on a lovely May evening I would make the long haul to see my side win the cup.

I left work at five, and after a quick change from shirt and tie to sweater over shirt and I think, change of trousers.

With two and a half hours to get there, I thought that providing I did not have too many problems with the M40 and M25 I would be okay… just.

Ironically, both the M roads were relatively okay – busy but, none of the dreaded gridlock tailbacks you can get, especially, the M25.

I got off the M25 at about 6:40 and having consulted and studied my map (no satnav for me). I reckoned I would do it easily.

What I didn’t account for was how far it was to Braintree out of the London area and how minor the roads were, not a dual carriageway in sight.

The road to Braintree was relatively straight forward, straight being the operative word.

On and on the A road went through tiny village after tiny village and the further I got, the further away it seemed to get, if you get my meaning.

I finally arrived at about 8:20, to find us 1-0 down and playing not very well.

Mind you, as soon as I settled down to watch; the team seemed to start playing better (obviously waiting for me to take my place behind the goal).

Against a side that had won promotion from our division that season and with home advantage, they were indeed favourites to win.

However, in the second half, we completely turned the table.

The two goals scored by Jason Geraghty could not have been more different in execution.

Both were free kicks from about twenty-five yards out, slightly left of centre as he would have seen the goal – that was where the similarity ended.

The first was completely mishit – it cleared the wall well enough but, bounced just inside the six-yard box and should have bounced into the keeps arms for a routine pick up.

However, Catley, their keeper who was a six-foot plus lad bent down and the ball went through his hands into the net!

The second one, almost from the same spot was a goal good enough to win any game, including a cup final.

The ball flew over the wall and went into the top corner way beyond the keepers grasp, a real peach.

We had a good away crowd there. If hardly a pitch invasion, I remember that about a dozen of us (not so) young fans came onto the pitch and congratulated our team and of course, were right at the front of the crowd at the presentation.

There was some more merriment in the Braintree clubhouse after the game with both supporters and players celebrating what was a very good victory.

Just to compound Braintree’s misery, after leading the table by a good margin for most of the season, they hit the buffers in the last few games and had to be content with the runners up spot, which is more than we could lay claim to, but at least we had a trophy, which we went on to retain the following season

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