To commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II (8th September 2022), Our First & Our Last feature used the home game with Dartford on 9th September to look back at our first and last game played during the long reign of Her Majesty.
OUR FIRST and OUR LAST – Queen Elizabeth II
St Albans City 5-3 Oxford City – 9th February 1952
The First game played by St Albans City following the Accession of Princess Elizabeth to the throne was on Saturday 9th February 1952, just three days after the death of King George VI. Oxford City were the visitors to Clarence Park that day for an Isthmian Legue fixture.
Neither side had enjoyed much success in the Isthmian League since the end of the war and the 1951-52 campaign was a particularly tough one for Oxford City with the Hoops finishing just one place off the foot of the table. Their cause had not been aided by a defeat to the City at the start of December when Norman Griffiths scored the only goal of the game at the White House Ground. That goal was Norman’s sixth and last for the club from his 49 appearances in our colours. On a visit to the Park in 2012, Norman, then aged 90, gave a quick insight as to the training regime that the players were put through just over 70 years ago. “We would be sent out on a run around the streets and then we would do some skipping inside the ground, we would never see a ball,” he said. By the time of Oxford making the return trip to Clarence Park in February, Norman had been sidelined with a long-term injury and his place at inside left had been filled by Peter Coyte.
Prior to the kick off for the match at Clarence Park a two-minutes silence was observed in respect for the late King, Abide With Me was played and both teams wore black armbands. The Herts Advertiser described the game as a ‘stirring tussle where fortunes fluctuated.’ They certainly did with Harry Wright, the Saints coach and manager, seeing his side take a two-goal lead within the opening half hour and then later trailing 3-2. Coyte, after a couple of games for the City ‘A’ team and a two for the Reserves, scored our first two goals against Oxford, his first for the club.
Not to be outdone, P.Davies, the Oxford City centre forward, put the Hoops in front with a hat trick. Oxford won just two of their 13 away league games this season and the Saints made sure that it was not increased to three with a late flurry of goals. Ken Pointer scored our third and further strikes by Ernie Handscomb and a Fred Collings penalty inside the final nine minutes secured a 5-3 win. It was the third in a run of eight successive defeats that Oxford suffered at Clarence Park .
We finished the season in tenth position in the 14-club Isthmian League and had little success in the cup competitions. After defeating Maidenhead United in the F.A. Cup we bowed out with a 4-0 replay defeat at Slough Town, a rush of three goals in six minutes put paid to our chances at the Dolphin Stadium. Our Amateur Cup exploits lasted just 90 minutes as Barnet won 1-0 at the Park in front of a crowd of 3,000. The A.F.A. Invitation Cup provided one of the most entertaining games seen at the Park all season and ended with the reigning Amateur Cup holders, Pegasus, winning 5-3.
We fell at the semi-final stage of the Herts Senior Cup, away to Letchworth Town, and in the final game of the season suffered a second cup defeat Barnet when the Bees scored in the dying seconds to win the Herts Charity Cup 4-3 at Underhill. Strangely, the opening game of the season saw us beat Barnet at the Park in the final of the previous season’s Charity Cup.
St Albans City: Denis Wells, Fred Collings, Harry Rawlings, David Cooper, Gordon Wilkinson, Ernie Handscomb, Bill Hussey, Hertz Svorin, Dave Sayers, Peter Coyte, Ken Pointer.
Oxford City: W.Stoneman, W.Todd, H.Jefferson, L.Wickson, J.Cook, C.Parker, P.Wheeler, J.Tomlin, R.McHenry, P.Davies, A.Bricknell. Referee: J.B.Kittell (Finchley).
OUR FIRST and OUR LAST – Queen Elizabeth II
St Albans City 0-1 Worthing - 3rd September 2022
The 3,795th, and final, game played by St Albans City during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II took place at Clarence Park on 3rd September 2022 when Worthing were our visitors for a National League South fixture.
Worthing, following promotion as Isthmian League champions at the end of the 2021-22 season, were playing their first league match at Clarence Park since January 1996. Adam Hinshelwood’s Rebels were three points and four places better off than Ian Allinson’s Saints. The Worthing squad included few names that were familiar in these parts. All of that has now changed with their defender Dan Bowry having since pitched up at Clarence Park for the current campaign, while substitute Lewis White made his mark by scoring the only goal of the game. White also scored in the return match at Woodside Road and was then seen in action against the Saints last Saturday when he was wearing Welling United’s colours.
The game at the Park started slowly and threatened to fizzle out altogether before bursting into life during the closing stages. That said, history was made and not just by Worthing winning a league match here for the first time. The game was our fourth at home for the season and, for the first time, we had successfully got through all four without scoring as much as a single goal. That statistic looked set to change when a foul by Callum Kealy on Huw Dawson in the 90th minute presented Shaun Jeffers with an opportunity to convert his 12th spot kick for the club. Rebels ‘keeper Harrison Male had other ideas and dived to his right to smother the shot and end Jeffer’s previously faultless record from 12 yards. The match attracted our first crowd of the season in excess of a thousand. This was the first time that a four-figure crowd had attended a league game between the two clubs and was the highest for a game between the two sides since 2,342 witnessed an A.F.A. Senior Cup tie at Wimbledon’s Plough Lane home in March 1937 when George VI was on the Throne.
At the time of Princess Elizabeth becoming Queen in 1952 Worthing were members of the Corinthian League and ended the 1951-52 season in tenth place in the 14-club league. The Corinthian League included two other clubs that season that are now in National League South; Maidstone United and Slough Town. Maidenhead United, now of the National League, were also in the Corinthian League and finished the season at the foot of the table. The league disbanded in 1963 with most of its clubs joining the Athenian League that itself was swallowed up by the Isthmian League in 1984.
During Her Majesty’s reign we won 1,610 games and lost 1,389. A total of 12,185 goals were scored with 6,419 being in our favour. Queen Elizabth II is one of six monarchs under which we have played following on from George VI (359 games), Edward VIII (34), George V (719) and Edward VII (61). Completing the list is Charles III (55). During her lengthy reign the Queen never did have the good fortune to see the City in action but Her Majesty’s husband, Prince Phillip, was Patron to Windsor & Eton during the seventeen games that we played against the Stags between 1983-92.
St Albans City: Michael Johnson, Devante Stanley (Joy Mukena 66), Tafari Moore, Michael Clark, Callum Adebiyi, Kyran Wiltshire, Chris Paul (Huw Dawson 62), Chez Isaac, Shaun Jeffers, Joe Neal (Liam Sole 82), Zane Banton, unused subs: David Noble, Louis Marcimain.
Worthing: Harrison Male, Joel Colbran, Cameron Tutt, Danny Barker (Conrad Honore 77), Arran Racine, Daniel Bowry, Kane Wills, Oliver Pearce (Lewis White 60), Callum Kealy, Reece Mylls-Meekums, Sammie McLeod (Javaun Splatt 60), unused subs: Joseph Rye, James Beresford. Goal: Bowry 85. Manager: Adam Hinshelwood. Referee: Harry Wager (Tunbridge Wells).