Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Well Fielded

Not for the first time over the course of the last few months, my thoughts have been turning back to Enfield again over the course of the day. Some of you will already have read it, but for those of you that haven't, here it is again:

Enfield 1-0 Lincoln City - FA Trophy Quarter-Final 1988: Enfield had a pretty awesome cup team in the early to mid 1980s, and knocked a string of League clubs out of the FA Cup. By 1988, though, their star was on the wane. When the Conference finally won the automatic promotion and relegation place, at least half of the clubs in the Conference turned professional. Crowds jumped up immediately, and clubs like Enfield were left standing still. By 1988, they'd lost the majority of their best players and were struggling to hold onto a mid-table place in the Conference.

Against this, they played Lincoln City (who had unluckily become the first team to be relegated the year before and were in the process of going straight back up into the Football league) in the FA Trophy. A section of the travelling Lincoln supporters had smashed Enfield Town before the match - proper bricks through shop windows stuff, and the atmosphere was pretty tense. Southbury Road had no segregation at the time and, when Enfield supporters went to change ends at half-time, they were confronted with lines of police officers with their arms linked to prevent the Lincoln supporters from getting at them. It was a deeply unpleasant atmosphere in many ways, but with about twenty minutes to play, the Lincoln goalkeeper spilled a corner and Nick Francis, I think, scored what turned out to be the only goal of the match. At the end of the match, with the Enfield supporters having been retired to a safe distance by the police, the Lincoln supporters went insane, ripping up the perimeter fence behind the goal.

It felt more like a giant-killing than any of those FA Cup wins ever did, and Enfield were never going to win the FA Cup. In 1988, they went on Wembley won the FA Trophy. Lincoln were back in the League a couple of months later, but this was Enfield's last hurrah - they were relegated from the Conference in 1990, never to return.

I mention it now because now, at more or less the least convenient time possible, I'm idly thinking of paying Enfield Town a visit again. I covered the subject of my relationship with Enfield FC once before on here, and I have also mentioned the fact that I have felt strangely dislocated from really "supporting" anyone since I moved from North London to Brighton a year and a half ago. The very thought of it fills me with a degree of dread. Enfield is one of those rare parts of London which, handily, isn't served by London Underground. The journey from Brighton is a particularly tortuous one - an hour's train journey to Victoria, a transfer to Liverpool Street, and then another half hour on the train out to the northernmost tip of London. Enfield FC were the first team that I saw play (along with their opponents that particular day, Carshalton Athletic). All I have to do is pick a convenient date. You never know. It might do me good.


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