One-time St Albans City player Mick Pestle was clearing out the home of his late mother during 2012 when he stumbled across a page from the Herts Advertiser dated March 1951. Most fortuitously it just so happens that it was the sports page, with most of it taken up with news about The City.
Amongst the news were reports of our 2-0 Isthmian League win at Clarence Park over Romford (Johnny Richards 2) and a 3-1 Friendly defeat at home to Sutton United (Roy Croft). There is also mention of Saints manager Frank Soo, a wartime England international, standing down at the end of the season.
Mick kindly handed a copy of the page along with a covering letter to the current City Club Historians. The accompanying letter was fascinating, as it talked of his time of playing for local youth side Carlton (a club that is accepted as the forerunner to St Albans City Youth), and his games in the City Reserves and one First team appearance.
His sole appearance in the First team saw the Saints defeat Letchworth Town 5-0 in the semi final of the Herts Charity Cup on 6th May 1963. Also in the team that day were City favourites Phil Wood (in only the eighth of his 900 games for the club), Danny Desmond, Dave Bromley and Herbie Smith.
The 1962-63 season was memorable to Mick though for far more than just the Letchworth game. He banged in 60 goals during the season for Carlton and put much of his success down to having Joe Kinnear playing behind him in midfield. As mentioned earlier, Mick went on to play for the Reserves and Kinnear also turned out twice for the City Reserves before finding fame and glory as a full-back with Tottenham Hotspur.
One of Kinnear’s two games for the Reserves was against Wycombe Wanderers Reserves on 25thApril 1963. The St Albans Club Historian at that time was Derek Christmas, who was so impressed with Joe’s performance that he wrote on his copy of the programme, “J.Kinnear shows real class – great promise.” Time was to prove that Derek wasn’t a bad judge.
What Mick will not be aware of is the comment Derek wrote on the programme following Mick’s one appearance in the First team; “Winger Pestle will be a great!!”
Mick rounded off the ’62-63 season by scoring six times for Carlton during a 7-5 win over Welwyn Garden City at Clarence Park on 22nd May.
The following season Carlton enjoyed success in the county cup with a 6-1 victory in the final over Bennetts End. The six goals were shared evenly between Mick and a certain Bob Murphy. Bob went on to not only play for St Albans City but also be manager, managing director and chairman. He also claims that in his youth he was also a programme seller at Clarence Park. Coincidentally, both Mick and Bob are now season ticket holders at Arsenal.
The Carlton team of 1963-64 also featured goalkeeper Alan Tatham, an England Schoolboy international, Bob Humphrey and Matt Hughes. Humphrey and Hughes went onto play for the City First team with Hughes signing for Stoke City from the Saints in 1968 only to break a leg on the eve of making his First team debut.
Injury may have denied Matt a career as a professional footballer but his son, David Hughes who was born in St Albans, did go on to make more than 50 Football League appearances for Southampton and also played against his hometown club for Eastleigh in Conference South.
Anyhow, returning to Mick Pestle, when he fits in visits to Clarence Park around his trips to the Emirates, he watches games from the covered terrace standing alongside another former City player, Dickie Last.