My first match – Little Britski


We all remember our first game don’t we?  Well not unless you are a few months old and then it the job of your Dad to record it for you.  So here is Daniel Richardson’s account of his daughter’s first game….bless.

The lowest league of the pyramid in the 25th ranked domestic league of European football. What better place to kick-off a childhood if not a lifetime of watching football? Or so my Dad would like to think; the truth is I was just 6 months old and had no choice in the matter. My family who took me to the match didn’t even know who was playing. Dad found out the next day by scouring the depths of the Slovak Sports Daily Dennik Sport that it was Okoc / Sokolec v Pol’. Mocenok in the Slovak 5. Div West South.

Okoc, or Ekecs, as the locals call it [they speak Hungarian, see] is a village in the South of Slovakia. You can’t even find it on Wikipedia. Officially it must be the South of the West I guess, but anyway, it’s down there and not much goes on. Therefore the football is quite a draw because a home game provides the highlight of the fortnight to families in these sleepy villages. Kick-offs are always Sunday afternoon at 17:00 by which time people will have already spent a good 7 hours eating, drinking and generally being merry, together. Forget your I-pads and designer clothes, deadlines, twitter and ‘better things to do’; this is real family stuff, and that’s why I went to the footy and everyone, including the dog, came along too.

Free entry for ladies, babies and dogs. €1 each for the men, who can begrudge paying that when the sun is shining, the atmosphere is jovial, the bar is open and there’s a game on? Even the pitch was in good nick and the football wasn’t as bad as they said it would be. There was also a “10ft football in a magic hat” to quote Danny Last. I was asleep in the buggy, Dad was drinking too much with Granddad and the girls were talking about me, so no one really knows what happened in the match. We just know Okoc won 1-0, because Dad checked the paper the next day. Despite the win, they remained bottom of the league pyramid but no worries; there is no relegation from this league.

Crowds for village football, especially in this region of Slovakia, often better those in the 2nd or even the 1st Division, in some cases. There was no official attendance published but Dad estimates between 200-300 were in for this match, which, when compared to 347 at Senec v Petrzalka the previous day, is not half bad. It’s a meeting place, an open air bar, a Sunday afternoon party and a chance to support the local lads. Everything you need, what more could I ask for from my first match?

Little Britski

Follow Britski’s Dad on Twitter – Britskibelasi

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My first game – David Bauckham


September 1972
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Dulwich Hamlet 1 Hampton 2
Champion Hill

I ought to come clean immediately. This wasn’t my first match, or even the second … or third. However, more than any other it, with hindsight, clearly had a profound effect on me and my later enthusiasm football grounds (note the careful omission of the word ‘Groundhopper’); the more decrepit, the better.

OK, for the sake of completeness, lest I be condemned as a total fraud, let’s get those formative details out of the way. My very first match (I have no idea of the date or the score) was a Schoolboy International – England vs. Scotland – at The Den, probably in 1968 or 69. I recall that the tickets had been given away at school and my dad was no doubt pressurised into taking me, as he was far more into horse racing than football (a couple of years later – August 1970 – I also pressurised him into taking me racing at Epsom, but that’s another story). Continue reading

My first game – Ryan Hubbard


Leicester City 0 – 4 Manchester United
The Premier League
Filbert Street, Leicester
April 15th 1995
Attendance: 21,281

My father was a devout egg-chaser. Competing in the local Rugby Union leagues on a Saturday afternoon meant that my football fix as a youngster came from Grandstand and – if I was allowed to stay up late enough – Match of the Day.

My only footballing influences as a youngster came from my Uncle and Cousin who, unfortunately were Manchester United fans. For a while, this was to lead me down a path of red shirts and Ryan Giggs posters torn from Match magazine. But I never really felt comfortable as a Red Devil.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I realised that I was Luke Skywalker being pulled to the Dark Side by my Uncle Vader and Cousin Moff Tarkin (although there was less killing and planet destroying). My home-town team Leicester City had been playing well in Division One, and with the whole city on a football-high, they capped it off with a Play-Off Final victory over local rivals Derby County. The Empire had started to fall.

It was only fitting that, during the Foxes’ first foray into the Premiership, my Aunt received free tickets from her company to Leicester City’s game against Alex Ferguson’s reigning Premiership champions.

Upon receiving the tickets, I remember being disappointed that our tickets were for the “Double Decker” Kop rather than the season-old Carling Stand. I was even more disappointed when – after walking along Burnmoor Street, passing the electricity sub-station, and trekking up the stairs to the second tier – I found out that the “Obstructed View” printed onto my ticket actually meant that the East Stand covered the entire right side of the pitch.

Goals from Lee Sharpe, Paul Ince and an Andy Cole brace ensured that Manchester United ran out 4-0 winners, but the game couldn’t have been fantastic as I don’t remember a single one of the goals.

However I do retain a memory of the crowd holding it’s breath as the ball fell to Mark Draper at the edge of the United box. And with a shot that made the Rebels glad that they didn’t put him in charge of the laser for destroying the Death Star, Draper somehow scooped the ball right over the top of the North Stand.

I can still imagine that ball rolling down Filbert Street…

Ryan Hubbard

Twitter.com/ryan_hubbard

My first game – Andy Ollerenshaw


Edgar Street, Hereford United

Sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s

Here’s the thing: I’m not really sure. Whilst my father – through his love of Manchester City – had a huge influence upon my childhood attendance at football games, it was an uncle who took me to my first ever match. Of that I’m pretty convinced. I’m equally certain the venue was Edgar Street, the home of Hereford United. The opposition? Scunthorpe United, possibly. The score? I’ve since imagined it to be 0-0 but in truth I’ve no idea. The game? I don’t remember any of it and I couldn’t tell you if it was a league game, a cup tie or a friendly. No programme adorns my collection, regrettably. Continue reading

My first game – Tom Dickinson


Oxford United 0-0 Bolton Wanderers
Manor Ground, Oxford

19th November 1996

Football first entered my radar during Euro ’96.

There was something so special about that tournament. Three Lions on a shirt! For the first time I could see what every other boy loved about football. Shearer and Sheringham destroying the Dutch, Seaman’s heroics from the penalty spot, Gazza missing the ball by a gnat’s eyelash against the Germans.

Despite the tournament ending in heartbreak for England, I made a conscious decision to become a football fanatic. The main problem was that I didn’t have a club to support. With my parents not really following any particular team I turned to my Bolton born-and-bred Godfather Chris for advice.

“There’s only one team to follow young Tom,” Chris wisely said to the young me in his softly reassuring Lancashire accent, “and that’s Bolton Wanderers.”

I nodded in enthusiastic agreement. Wow! Bolton Wanderers. They sounded so exotic. I made an oath that day to follow Bolton through thick and thin, but in retrospect perhaps I should have made a couple of checks first. Like the fact that Bolton is over 200 miles away from my home in Hertfordshire. Or that the team had just finished bottom of the Premiership with a record low points total.

Chris took me to see Bolton away at Oxford for my first ever match. This was the day I inexplicably fell truly and utterly head over heels in love with football.

Oxford United 0-0 Bolton Wanderers. It was a school night in November. The Manor Ground. A creaky, dilapidated old terraced barnyard. Doesn’t exist anymore, it got demolished. There’s a hospital there now I think.

I was only 10. What can I remember? Think. Think. Nothing. Think harder! I can’t remember what happened last week, let alone what happened 15 years ago.

I remember… the cold. It was cold. On my feet especially. Why the feet? I was wearing two pairs of socks as well.

I remember it wasn’t what I had expected a football match to be like. The ground was smaller, much smaller. It was less glamorous. It was gloomy. It was grey and ugly.

I remember… Scott Sellars running up to take a corner, catching my eye, and winking at me. It was cool at the time. Seems a bit creepy now thinking back about it.

I remember… the swearing. Lots of swearing. Mainly at the ref, poor bloke. He wasn’t that bad.

I remember the chants. “We’re the one and only Wanderers!” We weren’t of course. There was Wolves. And one more, Wycombe was it? I even knew that and I was only 10. “Super, Super John! Super, Super John! Super, Super John! Super John McGinlay!” That was a good one. He was pretty super.

I remember the frustration towards the manager Colin Todd. Why was he taking Johansen off? He’s been our best player! I could be a better manager than him. And I was only 10.

I remember longing for a goal. Please. Just one! 0-0 was the scoreline I dreaded. It’s worse than a defeat in some ways. My prayers weren’t answered. I didn’t get a goal.

I remember having a pie. It was nicely steaming in my hands, heating my frosty fingers and promising to warm my stomach. But it was cold on the inside. Not cooked enough. That pissed me off. I remember that clearly. Poor me. I was only 10.

No goals. Freezing cold night. Crap pie. Crap ground. Crap match.

Tom Dickinson

Twitter.com/92pies

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My first game – Matthew McLean


East Fife v  Dumbarton
Scottish League Division
Bayview Park
8th October 1994

Saturday the 8th October 1994. That was a day that changed my life. I was 10 years old and had never really had more than a passing interest in football. I had loosely followed the World Cup in the USA that summer, and my Dad, a lifelong East Fife fan, decided to start taking me to the match following the ambitious appointment of former Barcelona and Spurs striker Steve Archibald as player/manager. Continue reading

My first game – Michael Hudson


Many thanks to Historical Kits for picture

Newcastle United 0 Coventry City 1
St. James’ Park
April 17th 1985
Attendance: 19,577

I had just turned nine years old, it was a sunny, end-of-season Wednesday evening, and Newcastle United were playing at home to Coventry City. It was the day that Manchester United beat Liverpool to reach the final of the FA Cup, exactly a week before Everton made the Cup Winners Cup Final, and just under a month until Heysel and the Bradford Fire. Not that I knew any of this at the time. Besides, I had enough to think about just trying to stay upright on a concrete crash-barrier.

We arrived before kick-off, climbing the zig-zag steps up from outside The Strawberry Pub, the doors of which men would famously topple out of five minutes before the game began. There was the smell of cooking hops and barley from the brewery next door, mixed in with open-air urinals, cigarette smoke, watery onions, eggy farts and beer breath. We found a place under the Gallowgate scoreboard, halfway up the open terrace, a little to the left of the goal. Continue reading