Our Dial-a-Ride driver turns up early to transport us to this morning’s Sporting Memories club. It’s fortunate that we are more or less ready - portable ramps in place at the front door, Mr B already dressed
for whatever the elements throw at us in his coat and woolly hat, my rucksack packed with essentials including Mr B’s reading glasses. The thing is, we may be ready for Sporting Memories - but is Sporting Memories ready for us?
Our ever-obliging driver tells me that if the doors to the clubhouse are still locked when we get there, then we can wait in the bus till they open. On arrival it doesn’t look
too promising as there is no sign of the large banner which always hangs across the gate announcing that “Sporting Memories is here today”. I leave Mr B in the bus while I trot off on a recce. We are the first to arrive but the clubhouse is open,
the table and chairs have been set out, and there is a kindly face behind the bar who says she will make us a cup of coffee once the coffee machine has heated up. I trot back to the Dial-a-Ride bus to inform Mr B that All Is Well.
It’s not long before others start to arrive, a few new faces among the familiar ones. The fella who started off this Worthing based club has turned up, putting the pressure
on our leader, Tim, who is at pains to make it clear that we are a “very, very informal” gathering. Just in case something more, well, structured is expected of him. I add my own two-pennyworth by explaining, loyally, that we like it that way.
Good heavens, I think to myself, this is only our fourth meeting and I am already feeling a fierce loyalty to our little tribe of sports-minded types.
can see that look on your face - am I really, truly describing myself as “sports-minded”? My old school friends would be amazed. They would be querying what on earth has happened to that girl who used to consider that a hockey game in which that
nasty, hard ball never came anywhere near her was a “great” game. But that was then and this is now - and I am now a fan of Sporting Memories. I am learning more and more every week.
I am, nevertheless, at a slight disadvantage. I have never heard, for example, of the infamous Eight Minute Match between Somerset and Worcestershire in a Benson & Hedges cricket match in May 1979 - though I can hold my
own in the ensuing discussion about what’s fair in love, war and cricket. When it comes to the picture cards of former footballing legends, passed around among us, I have to admit that the only two I recognise are Bobby Moore (the World Cup he was holding
was a bit of a giveaway) and Kevin Keegan, he of the curly hair. You can imagine, therefore, that coming up with my own personal contribution to the discussion is a bit of a challenge...
Faced with that challenge, I turn (as in many times past as a child) to my Dad who loved two things above all - his family and football. In particular I have his own account, in his own handwriting, of the very first football match
he played in for his school, The Davenant, against Tower Hill school away. I’ve told the story here before - how when invited to turn out for the team which was one player short, he noticed that the captain was wearing ordinary boots while he had a pair
of second hand boots bought for him by his father. So he loaned the captain his right boot and they both played the game wearing one football boot and one ordinary boot. “I played a blinder (so I thought)” my Dad wrote. The gang at Sporting Memories
loved my Dad’s story and I earned a round of applause.
I like to think it wasn’t for me but for the memory of the little lad who gave up one of his
boots to his captain, stuck like glue to his opponent, played “a blinder” - and wore his team colours (a white shirt with a red diamond on the front and back) with so much pride.
Now that’s a true Sporting Memory.