Sunday 24th September 1989
Every football club can boast of big games played at their ground. Big cup ties, significant league games and high-profile friendlies. Few non-league grounds however, have the privilege of being host to a game that includes six World Cup winners from three different countries and 22 international players that represented their country a combined total of 993 times.
Clarence Park was the venue for such a game on 24th September 1989. The game that brought this wonderful array talent together was a charity match in aid of an organisation called Dreamflight . The charity, founded in 1987, gives seriously ill children the experience of a lifetime. This would, usually, involve a trip to Disneyland in Orlando in the United States.
The idea of supporting the Dreamflight charity was formulated by John Mitchell and Bobby Moore. Dreamflight was the choice of charity by British Airways and their link to the football match came through Bobby’s second wife, Stephanie, who was a flight attendant for the airline. The British Airways staff donate their time to support the trip.
Mitch and Bobby, who later worked together as Mitchell Moore Associates, had spent a lifetime in football and this was an opportunity for the game to help a charity in spectacular fashion. Mitch was Managing Director at Panini in 1989 and Bobby the Promotions Director. Together, they hedged a plan for Panini to be the main sponsor of an event supporting the British Airways’ charity.
Bobby’s role was to enlist the players for the match and Mitch was to handle the sponsorship, operational and event management of the scheme, which included a function at The Hilton in Watford on the night before the game.
In this look back on the events of a most remarkable weekend, we include connections between the participating players and St Albans City.
Enticing nothing but the Best
The two teams were given the names of the Panini All Stars and an Arsenal & Spurs Select.
The respect held by fellow professionals towards Bobby Moore is, quite possibly, unmatched by any other English footballer. The former England captain went for the cream of the crop for his two teams, his address book would have made for interesting reading. Enticing players from the Home nations was one thing but to attract Franz Beckenbauer and George Best took the match onto another level.
John Mitchell and George Best playing for Fulham).Best, probably the greatest player never to feature in a World Cup finals tournament, had a reputation for promising to appear in games but then getting side-tracked. He had played alongside Mitchell and Moore at Fulham during the 1976-77 season, letting down his friend Bobby Moore was not on the agenda. (Right:
Headlining the cast, although to place one legendary name above another seems ludicrous in the extreme, were World Cup winning captains Bobby himself, and Franz Beckenbauer. The German was manager of the West Germany international side at the time of this game. In 1966 he was in the West Germany XI beaten 4-2 by England in the World Cup final at Wembley. Eight years later, when West Germany defeated Holland, he did get his hands on the trophy and, in 1990, he became the first person to win the World Cup as both a player and manager when West Germany beat Argentina in the final in Rome.
The supporting cast included another four World Cup winners; Argentinean Ossie Ardiles and England trio Alan Ball, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, the latter being the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final. Peters and Hurst both had past experience of the Clarence Park turf having appeared there for a Dennis Waterman XI against a British International XI on 27thApril 1986.
The England players were all part of the 1966 side while Ardiles was a member of Argentina’s successful 1978 team. This was Ardiles’ third visit to Clarence Park having first played there in December 1983 for Tottenham Hotspur in a friendly against a St Albans City side managed by John Mitchell . The Spurs side that night included future St Albans players Allan Cockram and Garry Brooke . Ardiles was back at the Park four years later as Spurs won 6-0, by this time Cockram was wearing the City’s colours. The Saints manager this time out was the former Tottenham central defender John Lacy .
The goalkeeper for the All-Stars side was the unique Pat Jennings of Northern Ireland. With 119 international appearances under his belt, the former Watford, Spurs and Arsenal goalkeeper, had more caps to his name than any other player on the pitch. Jennings had first played at the Park on 14th October 1984 in a charity match in memory of brothers Stuart and Julian Anscomb, aged nine and 12. The two St Albans youngsters had been killed by lightning three months earlier when attending an annual fun day for their youth side Marshalswick Warriors. England manager Bobby Robson played for the first 30 minutes of a game that attracted a gate of 6,000 and raised £8,000 for local charities. Pat had also trained at the ground when Billy Bingham was manager of the Northern Ireland side. The Irish were preparing for a World Cup qualifier against England (15th November 1985) that finished goalless. Bingham’s side were staying at the Moat House Hotel in Harpenden. Above: Pat Jennings at Clarence Park with Billy Bingham (complete with trademark pipe) and former Spurs and Watford striker Gerry Armstrong, who once lived in Jersey Farm, St Albans.
The rest of the Panini All Stars team consisted entirely of England international players; Kevin Keegan, Mick Channon, Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard. Brooking was another to have featured in the 1984 charity match at Clarence Park . The substitutes’ bench veered off in another direction all together as boxer David ‘Boy’ Green and Mitch waited to join the action. Green was a vice president at St Albans City in 1989.
Mitch’s St Albans credentials were impeccable. As a player, signed from Hertford Town, he scored 25 times in 46 games prior to joining Fulham in February 1972. It was his semi-final goals that took Fulham to the 1975 F.A. Cup final. He returned to St Albans to assist manager John Butterfield with coaching in 1983 before taking on the role as manager in the October. He then steered the club to two promotions in three years, leading City into the Premier Division of the Isthmian League. He stood down in the summer of 1987 before turning early in 1991 to stave off relegation. In John’s final season as City manager, 1992-93, the club were Isthmian League runners up, reached the 1st Round of the F.A. Cup and won three cups. In spite of all of this Mitch was not due to play in the Dreamflight game, but Bobby Moore said, “I expect he’ll wangle a game.”
The Arsenal & Spurs Select consisted of some great names to have represented both clubs during the second half of the 1960s and through the 1970s.
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Ray Clemence, formerly of Liverpool, had in front of him; Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, Terry Neill, Terry Mancini, Brian Talbot, John Radford and George Graham, all of the Gunners, and John Pratt, Steve Perryman and Martin Chivers of Spurs. On the bench was Gary Lewin of Arsenal along with Jimmy Neighbour and John Gorman from White Hart Lane.
Connections to St Albans City can be found in several of these players. Jimmy Neighbour was the City manager from December 1996 to March 1998, Martin Chivers played in a Spurs side that drew 2-2 in a friendly Park in July 1969. At the end of his days as a professional Martin played in the St Albans Sunday League for Brookmans Park. John Pratt also featured in the 1969 friendly and his son, David, played 94 times for the City between 1999-2001.
Pat Rice played in both the Anscomb charity match in 1984 and against the Dennis Waterman XI two years later. He had first played at the Park in July 1969 in an Arsenal Reserve side that beat City 2-1. Pat’s Arsenal colleague Frank McLintock played alongside him for the British International XI but, more curiously, also had a seat in the stand to see City beat Leggatts Way 6-0 in a friendly in August 1970.
Jimmy Tarbuck and friends
Dreamflight was Jimmy Tarbuck and he, along with his good friend Kenny Lynch, was the star turn providing the entertainment at the Hilton. The Liverpool comedian was another who was no stranger to St Albans City having scored four times for a Jimmy Hill XI during a 7-7 draw against the Saints at Clarence Park on 30th March 1969.The night before the game saw the two teams entertained at a Gala Dinner & Dance at the Hilton National Hotel in Watford. The Patron of
Bernard Tominey, who became the City chairman in the summer of 1989, was vice-president at Hilton International, part of the Ladbroke Group, with responsibility for worldwide purchasing. Some twenty years after the event Bernard spoke of his wish to produce something logging this historic weekend in detail, his working title has been used as the heading for this article. (Right: Bernard Tominey with Bobby Moore at Clarence Park ).
Hospitality packages were available for any businesses looking to support the event and have a good night out too. The package included a table for ten at the Hilton, ten V.I.P. tickets for seats in the main stand at Clarence Park , advertising in the A4-sized matchday programme and a corporate souvenir. The package also included an overnight stay at the Hilton and an invitation to the post match function at Clarence Park . Mitch later said that the cost of each of these packages was £10,000.
Clarence Park’s biggest match
The game was billed as the Dreamflight Charity Cup and, suitably enough, a cup was provided for the winners. The football kicked off at 11am but the build-up started way before then with tickets on sale from both the ground and at the Box Office in the Civic Centre a couple of weeks before the big day.
Admission was £2.50, an additional £2.50 secured a 20-page, A4-sized, colour programme. At this time there were no parking restrictions in York Road but, for this game only, restrictions were brought in. British Rail eased congestion considerably by providing free parking in their City Station car park just 800 yards from the football ground. City’s matchday programme for games earlier in the month stated that the police had put a limit on the attendance of 4,500, but the local press suggested that it was 5,000. The main stand was reserved for ‘special ticket holders’ while only Supporters Club members would be admitted to the clubhouse.
As sponsors of the event, Panini handed out sticker albums and a set of stickers to children at the game. Panini’s chairman, Franco Panini, was present at the game and, prior to the kick off, he, along with Bernard Tominey, presented a cheque for £20,000 to representatives of Dreamflight . This figure was the sum committed by Panini as main sponsor prior to everything that was to follow. Mitch later confirmed that the final sum raised was in the region of £42,000, this enabled 45 children to enjoy the trip to Disneyland.
Musical entertainment was provided for spectators, as they streamed into Clarence Park , by the British Airways Brass Band . It was almost a throwback to the 1920s when the St Albans City Silver Band provided the pre-match and half-time entertainment.
The band, however, were upstaged by the appearance of The Red Devils above the Park. The parachutists were charged with delivering the ball, from 10,000 feet, to the centre circle. Save for a few feet, they hit the mark. (In the photo of the presentation of the cheque, those standing in the background can be seen looking up at the arrival of The Red Devils ).
With the ball now in place, the teams took to the pitch joined by match officials Chris Noble, Roger Tooley and Peter Urquhart.
Above: Frank McLintock leads out the London players and on the right Bobby Moore, followed by Ossie Ardiles , takes the All Stars onto the pitch. St Albans City Youth acted as ball boys on the day, to the right of the photo is George Walker, the chairman of City Youth.
It was not long before the goals started to flow. Within the opening 15 minutes former Arsenal centre forward John Radford had scored a quick-fire hat-trick to give the Arsenal and Spurs Select a 3-0 lead. Radford had played against St Albans a couple of times around 1980 for Bishop’s Stortford, but this was his first outing at Clarence Park . Ardiles pulled a goal back for the All Stars before Martin Chivers restored the three-goal difference.
Below (left): Martin Peters and Ossie Ardiles . (Right): Kevin Keegan and Martin Chivers.
George Best entered the pitch for the second half lying flat out on a stretcher with Kevin Keegan and Alan Ball acting as bearers. Earlier in the game, Best had drawn the loudest cheer of the day with his first touch, but what the crowd really wanted was to see the maestro score. He did not disappoint as he pulled the game back to 4-2 with a low shot to the left of the diving Ray Clemence in the Hatfield Road goal. As the photo of George scoring shows, all eyes are on him as the crowd are willing the ball to go in. These were the days when the oak tree still stood in the terrace and a few leaves can be seen scattered in the goalmouth.
The All Stars cause looked lost when Chivers added his second goal and the Londoners fifth. But, back came the All Stars again and with a brace from Alan Ball and a single by Trevor Brooking equality was restored. The game looked set to finish all square until John Gorman scored a spectacular goal in the final minute to clinch a 6-5 win for the Arsenal and Spurs Select. Yes, John Mitchell did ‘wangle’ a run out before time was called.
Above left to right: Franz Beckenbauer, George Graham, Kevin Keegan. Below, the two teams prior to the kick off on a glorious sunny day in St Albans.
City supporter Tim Petty took some photos on the day that give an indication of the size of the crowd. The attendance was said to be approaching 6,000.
The big names at Clarence Park were not confined to just those on the pitch on the pitch. Graeme Souness had been due to play but injury ruled out the Rangers player/manager. Nonetheless, he still attended the game. The always popular former manager of another Saints team, Southampton, Lawrie McMenemy assisted the All Stars team while the flamboyant Malcolm Allison was another star attraction. Left: Lawrie McMenemy with one of the Dreamflight children. Right: Malcolm Allison with autograph hunters Mark Fine and Alex Humphrey.
The St Albans City physio at this time was Graham Coleman, this meant that he was in the dressing room with the greatest players ever to grace Clarence Park .
Thirty-two years after the game Graham gave his recollections. “There was so much going on, so many players that you knew about, and now I was in the dressing room with them. In many ways it just went by in a flash and it is difficult to remember much at all. But I do remember Franz Beckenbauer coming up to and saying that he needs his ankle strapped before the game. I just remember thinking that I’ve got to get this one right! He came up to me after the game and said thank you.”
“There was a lot of banter in the dressing room, the players were going over so many stories, just one after another. Beckenbauer joined in with it, they all did, it was just like a reunion for them. It was an unbelievable day.”
After the game the players recuperated in a large marquee set up in the public section of Clarence Park . George Best continued to be the main attraction with fans queuing outside of the marquee hoping to get the Irishman’s signature. Left, the game may be over but for Best the attention never wanes. He willingly signed programmes for the long line of children at the game, although he did have to ask for a break of around 30 minutes so that he could finally have some food and drink. On the table over George’s left shoulder are lifelong City supporters Mike Melnyk and his mother Florence.
Never one to waste an opportunity, Graham passed his copy of the programme around the All Stars dressing room and had it signed by the players.
Panini All Stars:Pat Jennings, Ossie Ardiles , Alan Ball, Martin Peters, Franz Beckenbauer, Bobby Moore, Kevin Keegan, Mick Channon, Geoff Hurst, Trevor Brooking, George Best, subs used; Frank Lampard, Dave Boy Green, John Mitchell .
Arsenal & Spurs Select:Ray Clemence, Pat Rice, John Pratt, Frank McLintock, Terry Neill, Terry Mancini, Brian Talbot, Steve Perryman, John Radford, George Graham, Martin Chivers, subs used: Jimmy Neighbour , John Gorman, Gary Lewin.
Goal scorers: 0-1 Radford, 0-2 Radford, 0-3 Radford, 1-3 Ardiles, 1-4 Chivers, 2-4 Best, 2-5 Chivers, 3-5 Ball, 4-5 Brooking, 5-5 Ball, 5-6 Gorman.
Pat Jennings (Northern Ireland) 119
Kevin Keegan (England) 63
Ray Clemence (England) 61
Terry Neill (Northern Ireland) 59
Pat Rice (Northern Ireland) 49
Trevor Brooking (England) 47
Mick Channon (England) 46
George Best (Northern Ireland) 37
Martin Chivers (England) 24
George Graham (Scotland) 12
Frank McLintock (Scotland) 9
Brian Talbot (England) 6
Terry Mancini (Eire) 5
Frank Lampard (England) 2
John Radford (England) 2
Steve Perryman (England) 1
With thanks to John Mitchell , Bernard Tominey, Graham Coleman, Steve Trulock, Tim Petty, Tony Gregory, Dave Satchel, St Albans Observer, St Albans Review, Herts Advertiser, Herald & Post.