The Story of Heyford (Extra): Football on the Village Green – Mick Parker

On April 30th 1988 the last competitive football match was played on the village Green. The opposition were fierce rivals Spratton, the result was a 1-1 draw. Mark Collins will go down in history as being the last Heyford player to score on the Green.

A historic day in the story of Heyford was recorded on video for posterity, with Ade Miller and John Gibbins braving the scaffolding structure to film the events of the afternoon. Ade was the camera man and John was our own John Motson commentating on the game. Well at least that was the plan but unfortunately he forgot to turn on the microphone.

After the game skipper Jeff Buck was presented with the Premier League trophy, as manager Chris Clarke’s side had achieved their goal of winning the league. The presentation took place outside the changing rooms which were situated in the village hall car park.

The portacabin changing rooms were soon to be uprooted and moved to the new playing fields, where although they have since been extended they still remain. The changing rooms had been purchased in 1975, after a tremendous amount of fund raising by a very strong committee, led by secretary Eric Miller, along with players and supporters. Fund raising such as the Tote which entailed a lot of traipsing the village on cold nights knocking on doors to sell numbers. There were also jumble sales, dances at the village hall, sponsored walks and weekly bingo hosted by Roy Pancoust.

Previously the football club had used the Baptist chapel, the youth club or on occasions the Foresters Arms cub room to change. The Foresters was very much the clubs headquarters in those days. My dad Alf Parker was landlord and football club chairman. Monthly Sunday morning committee meetings would conveniently finish at 12 o’clock opening time.

The hard work that had been put in off the field in the 70’s led the way to the club’s most successful spell. The knockout cup was won in 1974. The league was won in 1975. Then amazingly in 1976 the Blues won all 4 competitions that they had entered, the league, ko cup, Lower Junior cup and the Byfield and Bethel cup. Success brought great times and great support.

Village football was very competitive in those days. Most villages had a team, and there were regularly large crowds on the Green. Especially for the local derbies against the old enemy, Bugbrooke. Everyone that played on the Green often
reminisce about the atmosphere created.

Although it wasn’t the best surface to play on, there were many undulations, and a footpath ran across the pitch from the Pound towards the shop. A footpath which was once used on a Saturday afternoon by ladies on the way to do their shopping holding up play. The goal mouths were usually devoid of grass, due to kids playing in the goal after school all week.

The ball would often get stuck under passing cars, or vehicles parked near the shops. At times a goalkeeper would be seen racing down Church Street to retrieve a ball rolling down the hill. Taking a corner from the sloping village hall side which was very close to a tree was a skill not many mastered. One player who mastered the art was the late great Martin Carnague.

We are lucky to have such a tremendous playing field in Heyford, which has taken many people a lot of time and effort to set up and maintain, but there is nothing like playing on the Green.

The earliest records of HAFC playing on Green is 1908. So there was at least 80 years of competitive football played in the centre of the village creating many memories. I’m sure not all good but many were.

Mick Parker 2021

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – May 1953

May 1953

Dear Diary,

What an exciting year this promises to be. Two weddings and a Coronation and they will all be different.

The first wedding is to be this month when Keith Clarke marries Brenda at the Methodist Chapel in Church Street. They are to have a reception at the Foresters Arms, and a neighbour is making them a wedding cake. I expect they will live in Hillside Road when Brenda’s parents move out.

The second wedding is my auntie Beryl who is to marry Jack Gibbins in Heyford church in June. This is special to me because I am to be a bridesmaid. Three of us are having long dresses in lemon with purple bows around the bottom and bonnets to match. Mum is putting ringlets in my hair which probably means sleeping with rags in. They are to live with Jack’s mother in Furnace Lane until a Council house becomes available for them.

We have posies to carry and I am to hold my auntie’s bouquet while she says “I do”. This means I can’t hold the hymn book, so we are all gathered around Nan’s piano while mum plays and we learn the hymns by heart. All her family play an instrument.

She wanted me to have piano lessons but I refused to practice so she said she wouldn’t be wasting money on me learning and dad said I was to stop being an awkward young lady. “What else will you do on a Saturday evening when you’re older?” Maybe I’ll regret not learning, who knows.

Last but not least, our lovely Queen Elizabeth is to be crowned in June in London and it is to be shown on the television. We don’t have one so I have been asked to go to a neighbour’s house to watch it. The Queen’s mother will be there but her grandmother died in March so she’ll miss it and I bet she would have loved to see another Coronation. The school children from Bliss school are to plant Acacia and May trees along what is now to be called Coronation Row, the little road opposite the school which splits up the village green. Dad got us some flags to pin up above our front door, and everybody seems to have something to hang up on the big day.

More good news. At last they have taken the railings down from around the war memorial on the little green and it is to be the end of sweet rationing. Bring on the lolly pops.

Until all this happens I think I’ll get my head in a book and read another Famous Five story. Shall I chose “Go Off in a Caravan”, “Go To Kirren Island” or, as normal, “Get Into Trouble”, all exciting stories with my favourite characters. I might look at my School Friend comic as well. Mum says I should keep my comics “in case we run out of toilet paper”, I mean, can you imagine?


Letter published in The Prattler – May 2020