Perfect ending to memorable match

Torbay Weekly

Following the worldwide release of a film showing 'A Saturday in the life of the Torbay Gentlemen', the club received an invitation from the Gibraltar FA to play four matches on The Rock in February, 1975.

We took a party of 38 members with us, and, after two days sunning ourselves by the hotel pool, it was now time for our first fixture.

Today, we would be playing against Gibraltar Over-30s, at the national stadium, in a match which seemed to have caught the imagination of the whole territory.

We were amazed to see that it had made the headlines of the local paper, and to read that it would be televised, and played in front of the Chief Minister (Prime Minister) of Gibraltar!

Luckily, we had plenty of football experience to call on, in the shape of ex-professionals Gordon Astall, Harry Smith, and Mike Hughes, and ex-Football League referee, Lester Shapter, so the task was not quite so daunting.

In any case, we were wise enough to know that it was not our football that drew the crowds!

Wherever we travelled in Europe, everyone loved Victoriana, and Gibraltar was no exception.

Win or lose, it was our Victorian costume, and our old English customs, which appealed to them most.

Football just gave us the excuse to be there!

While we were in the changing rooms, the rest our group were charming the crowd which was growing by the minute.

The men, wearing top hats and pocket watches, shook hands with the crowd, while the ladies in their billowing dresses, and broad-brimmed hats, blew kisses, and handed out flowers.

As we left the changing rooms, I will never forget running out into the bright Mediterranean sunshine, to the cheers of the crowd, right underneath the massive Rock of Gibraltar.

Some memories stay with you for ever!

As we were introduced to the Chief Minister, and shook his hand, he thanked us for coming, and told us that today’s attendance, in the stadium, was the highest for six years.

Thankfully, we managed to serve up a really good game for the crowd, and the cameras.

It was 1-1 at half-time, when the ladies brought out the wine, for both teams, on silver platters.

Roy Clarke had put us ahead before we conceded a late equaliser.

In the second half, I remember one incident above all others.

George Loye, who rarely played for the Torbay Gents, and was, by nature, a brutal left back, was being run ragged by his winger.

I knew that George was getting upset by this, when, suddenly, he produced a shoulder charge, more suited to Clennon Valley, and his winger went flying into touch.

However, instead of swearing at him, George picked him up, dusted him down, and shook his hand!

I was most impressed, and whispered: “Well done, George!” to which he replied: “Huh! It’s only ‘cos we’re on the bloody television!”

Towards the end, Mike Hughes scored from a free kick to put us in front but again the Over-30s equalised.

It looked to be a certain draw, until, in the last minute, Percy Worrall scored a spectacular winner from 30 yards.

It was the perfect ending to a memorable match.

The coach collected us from the stadium, and, when we got back to the hotel, there was a letter waiting for me.

Tomorrow, we had booked to fly to Morocco to play a match against Tihad Tangier, but, at the last moment, they had asked for money, up front, to honour the fixture.

Of course, I had refused, and assumed that the game had now been cancelled.

The letter that was waiting for me was now offering to play the game, if we would pay the cash to their representatives, who would meet me at the airport!

It was just such an obvious scam, that we dismissed the idea, and decided that we didn’t need football to enjoy Tangier.

We had pre-booked the flights, so it was now a case of making the best of it!

Next week: We find out that it’s a long way from Clennon Valley to the Casbah!