Histon’s recent victory over Leeds was a classic FA Cup tie featuring ITV coverage that equalled its glory days of the World of Sport and The Big Match. Leaving the Guild Hall in Hartlepool where Big Daddy - roared on by a crowed of homicidal grannies high on a lethal cocktail of gin and mint imperials - had finally triumphed over Jim Breaks, Steve Rider, his bouffant greying visibly on camera, welcomed us to the Glassworld Stadium - home of Histon Town.
Battered throughout by a North Sea gale that seemed to pick up mud as it hammered across the Fens, the pitch had been reduced to a quagmire on which carefully weighted passes became becalmed like dumplings in my old Mum’s stew. Not that you could tell mind. Every time the lens panned towards the Histon goal, it was met by a volley of rain that obliterated everything as completely as Kevin Keegan on a bike. Shots between cameras were accompanied by the off screen squeak of hanky on lens and, as the half wore on, a halo of steam leant the action the kind of soft focus usually only afforded to Joan Collins.
It got better. As another clearance was shanked onto the A14, Peter Drury, who now surely deserves to be mentioned in the same breadth as Gerald Sinstadt, was heard to chuckle ‘That’s your ball Jim!’ before seconds later Leeds fans grabbed a pitchside microphone and treated the nation to a heartfelt rendition of ‘ITV…is fucking shit…’
As the combination of mud, rain, pies and Thermos steam rendered the players and crowed increasingly indistinguishable, the sense of time warp grew stronger – scarves became longer and more stripy, shorts got shorter, coloured boots became a uniform shade of brown and hair got longer. Then, just as you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, Histon’s Mathew Langston, sideburns flaring to Dave Watson proportions, rose like a miner from the pit to put the part timers in front with a header so firm that the smack of wet leather on head could be heard as far away as 1973.
It was all too much for the west Cambridge electricity grid, which (and I swear this is true) suffered a power cut that sent us scrambling for long forgotten transistor radios. Tuning our dials carefully, we were shocked to hear the sounds of Sport on 2 where Peter Jones was noting that Langston was a postman who was only able to play that day because he was on strike. Mercifully, a 120% pay increase was immediately forthcoming and power was quickly restored thus allowing us to see a Peter Lorimer hot shot unwittingly deflected over the bar by Histon sub Antonio Murray. For all the world, Murray appeared to have merely wandered across the goalmouth en route to his local corner shop for a can of Younger’s Tartan Ale and a packet of Spangles. ‘Oooowww! Leeds are NEVER gonna score!’ howled Sinstadt. ‘Not until at least 1992’ I thought.
At the final whistle, Histon fans invaded the pitch as the sound of Queen’s We are the Champions echoed around the ground. Marvelling at a truly great day for the FA Cup, I turned off my telly and sat in silence as the white dot faded gently from the screen. It was Sunday, so I picked up the paper and returned to the grim tidings of recession, war in the Middle East and the threat of international terrorism. Ah, I see that Slade are releasing a song entitled Merry Christmas Everybody…