This particular 'Tales' takes a look back into the days before ‘& Richmond Borough’ was a part of our visitor’s name. Formed in 1921 Hampton made their first venture to Clarence Park on 7th November 1967 when the two clubs filled the fixture list with a multitude of cup ties including, in this instance, The Premier Midweek Floodlight League. Also competing in this Division were Chesham United, Finchley, Hayes, Hillingdon Borough, Hounslow and Wimbledon.
Our day job, to put it one way, was in the Isthmian League while Hampton were in the Spartan League. Hampton had been members of the Spartan League since 1964 and had been crowned champions for each of their first three seasons. This time around, they were sitting in second place at the time of their visit to St Albans and that is where Roy Philpott’s side finished the season as Tring Town lifted the title for the only time in their history. Hampton won the league for a fourth and final time in 1968-69.
The Premier Midweek League was in its third season but this was the first time that either ourselves or Hampton had taken part. Hampton had won three and lost one of their opening four games, amassing eight points. Three points were awarded for an away win and just two for a home success. We went into the match on six points but with a game in hand on the Middlesex club.
The game got off to a cagey start before Alan McDonnell (left), on 27 minutes, headed home a Bobby Childs corner and three minutes later Childs and McDonnell combined to tee up City substitute Bill Broomfield for the second goal. Broomfield, a former England Amateur International with West Auckland Town, had made an early appearance in the game when an ankle injury forced John Butterfield to limp off. The game moved fully beyond Hampton’s reach on 54 minutes when Geoff Hurst marked his home debut with a headed goal from another Childs cross. It should be noted that this Geoff Hurst had not won the World Cup with England the previous summer but was a banker who had recently signed for the Saints from Southern Amateur League side Barclays Bank. Childs (right) completed the 4-0 tally when hammering in the best goal of the game following good work by Matt Hughes and Keiron Somers. The game attracted an attendance of 486.
The two sides met at The Beveree for the return fixture on 28th February where, with Hampton already out of contention, a goal by Peter Allen pretty much ended the aspirations of both sides in making it through to the next stage. Allen, who had hit the crossbar during the first game at Clarence Park , had risen through the ranks before establishing himself in the First team and was to become a terrific servant for the Beavers. During the 1967-68 season he scored 38 times in 63 games, this included a run of 12 goals in ten games and four during an 8-2 thrashing of Huntley & Palmers. Allen played for the club until 1976 when he retired with the Hampton record of 180 goals under his belt.
Elsewhere that season, Hampton played three home games in the F.A. Cup, knocking out Southall and Hemel Hempstead, before bowing out 5-4 to Isthmians Walthamstow Avenue. Allen was again amongst the scorers against Walthamstow but an injury forced his withdrawal at half time. The scorer of two of the Avenue goals was Brian Collett who joined St Albans early in the 1970s but left without playing a game. Walthamstow had signed his brother Paul shortly before the Hampton game but he was cup-tied and had to sit it out. Paul did go on to play for us scoring 24 times in 53 games between 1970-72. Other familiar faces in that Walthamstow side were goalkeeper Vic Lindsay and Denis Murphy. They went on to play four and 22 games for the Saints respectively during the disastrous 1973-74 campaign that ended with our first relegation. The Walthamstow manager was Tommy Coleman who had the remarkable record of just two wins in 36 matches as City manager from April to December 1973.
Roy Philpott was Hampton manager for eight years with his 510 games in charge being the club record, only Alan Devonshire, on 444 games, has got close to matching his tally.
The 1967-68 season was Sid Prosser’s first as St Albans City manager. In addition to 38 Isthmian League matches, we played 29 cup ties (including the Midweek League) and the total of 67 games in all competitions was, at the time, the highest in our history. The following season saw City play 80 games, a figure that was boosted by a fine run through to the 2nd Round of the F.A. Cup. At the end of Prosser’s first season the Herts Senior Cup was in the City trophy cabinet after a Micky Doyle goal secured victory over Hertford Town in the final at Vicarage Road, the attendance was 1,683. Enfield won the Isthmian League, 14 points clear of us, but our final position of fifth was the club’s best showing for 13 years. The season had kicked off with John Butterfield (left) and Bobby Childs scoring hat-tricks during a 7-0 win at the Park over Maidstone United.
In the senior cup competitions we made a swift exit from the F.A. Cup with a 1st Round Qualifying replay defeat at Hitchin Town, the two games attracted gates of 1,404 and 1,881. Our Amateur Cup run was even shorter with a late goal giving Oxford City a 2-1 win at the Park in the 1st Round in front of 1,722 spectators. This was our maiden season in the London Senior Cup and after successfully negotiating five Rounds (three qualifying) we bowed out away to Walthamstow Avenue.
Goals were not a problem for Prosser’s side with 78 being scored in the league and 61 in the knock-out competitions. Bill Broomfield, who passed away in 2011, was top scorer with 37 from 60 games and Bobby Childs was not far behind on 30. Two other players also got into double figures; John Butterfield (13) and Alan McDonnell (10). The two highest appearance makers in our history, Phil Wood and Dave Lawrence were regulars in the side with 58 and 61 games; Phil ended his career in 1985 after 900 games and Dave in 1981 having played 480 times for the club. Another significant name from that season is someone who only played 11 times, Dave Bassett. Dave played for a number of amateur clubs, and gained nine caps with the England Amateur side, before having a lengthy time as a manager in the Football League including six successful years with the Crazy Gang at Wimbledon.
The Hertfordshire county side played three games in the Southern Counties Amateur Championship with the Saints well-represented in Dave Lawrence, Bobby Childs, Phil Wood , Bill Broomfield, Alan McDonnell and Matt Hughes. Of the remaining 18 players to turn out for Hertfordshire that season six passed through our door at one time or another (Les Eason, Denis Gibbs, Brian Nisbet, Les Picking, Dave Sharkey and Tony Turley).
Full-back Matt Hughes played in eight other representative matches that had a significant bearing on his career. Early in the season he played for the Isthmian League against The Athenian League (a 7-0 win at Dagenham) and then in a 3-2 win over reigning Isthmian champions Sutton United at Southall. On 29th January he received a phone call from the City secretary, Dick East, late in the afternoon asking if he could get over to Oxford to play for the British Olympic XI against Oxford United. A number of players had cried off from the Olympic side and last minute replacements were sought. Matt got to Oxford in time but his team went down 1-0.
Matt also made five appearances for the Football Association that season against Oxford University, Cambridge University, The Royal Navy, The Amateur Football Alliance and The Universities Athletic Union. One honour that did evade the former Carlton Youth player was a call up for the England Amateur international XI. He also had to turn down an invitation to join the Middlesex Wanderers for their three-game tour of Iceland. The reason doing so was that he had just had trials for Stoke City Reserves against Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County, and accepted a two-year professional contract with the Potteries club. Sadly, tragedy struck for Matt early the following season. He was believed to be on the verge of a First team call up when he suffered a knee injury during a minor cup tie and underwent two cartilage operations that ended his days as a professional. Amongst his visitors whilst in St Joseph’s Hospital in Manchester were Matt Busby, George Best and Denis Law. Matt rejoined the Saints in 1974 and ran a glassware stall at St Albans market.
Above Right: Matt Hughes (top left) with Carlton Youth in 1963-64. Next to him is Ray Bloxham and seated are Bill Hussey and Mick Pestle, all of whom went on to play for St Albans City.
Line ups for City’s 4-0 win over Hampton on 7th November 1967:
St Albans City: Bill Fowler, Mick Harman, Micky Doyle, Dave Bromley, Matt Hughes, Dave Sumner, John Butterfield (Bill Broomfield), Alan McDonnell, Geoff Hurst, Keiron Somers, Bobby Childs.
Hampton: J.Andrews, A.Earl, Brian Smith, Don Aldridge, Peter Minor, Brian Morris, John McLintock, M.Garman, Ken Merry, Peter Allen, Arthur Rowlands. Referee: A.Prest.