Seven of us travelled to London for Leyton Orient’s Sixes on Friday 20th June. It was an emotional journey as it was our first visit since Martin Kelly passed away on the morning of the previous year’s tournament.
Our squad was:- Martin Harvey, Calum Colquhoun, Michael Cameron, Sean Connolly, John Crosbie, Dougie Lyden and Iain Campbell .
The Friday train journey was fun as usual and we headed out to Gants Hill in Ilford as we were staying in the Park Hotel.
A visit to the local Weatherspoons to watch some football tournament from South America then onto the Birkbeck in Leyton, our favourite hostelry in the East End.
A good night catching up with our friends then an early start on Saturday morning as the Chaos was starting at the ridiculously early time of 10am, well some teams were staring then.
We caught a bus to Walthamstow then had to walk through the longest street market in Europe which took forever. It was such a long walk that we lost our keeper Dougie who apparently took a wrong turning and ended up in Leyton !
Eventually we reached the Douglas Eyre Sports Centre and discovered that we were the last to arrive and had a few games to play back to back.
For the first time the tournament was on 3g which meant we were only a very short walk to the bar in the pavilion which was ideal.
We had four group games to play and we had a 100% record in all four, no points, no goals ! There was nearly an “I was there” moment in one of the games when Mister C received the ball with only the keeper to beat but it fell to his lesser (!) foot and just went out for a goal kick rather than a throw.
With Dougie gone we only had six players but Brian and Pete from the O’s were happy to pull on the Hoops for the day and give some of us a breather.
Dougie was meant to be in goals, so Martin took the gloves then hurt his hand so Michael took over and did a fine job.
Every year somebody suggests that we will do well, despite our motley crew, and this time it was Crossers who declared that we would be champions before the day was out.
Well, he wasn’t far off being right as our group “performances” put us in the Wooden Spoon play off against Leyton Orient with the loser winning the Spoon, if that makes sense.
All our assorted squad were on the pitch as well as another couple of O’s and the game ended up about ten a side on the small pitch.
What followed was undoubtedly the game of the tournament as both teams showed why they were in this “cup final”. The O’s took the lead but luckily Sean equalised which sparked wild celebrations as his team mates tried to remove his kit to throw to the crowd.
After a pulsating battle the game went to three penalties a team and, amidst unbearable tension, we were victorious by losing 1-0 with Crossers and CC seeing their kicks saved and Sean hitting the post. Michael saved two of the O’s penalties but couldn’t stop the third and the Wooden Spoon was ours, again.
With the football over it was time for us to change into our tee-shirts which had a photo of our Martin on the front and back (thanks to Libby Raeburn for organising them) which we felt was appropriate for the evening event at the Birkbeck.
At the presentations we received the Wooden Spoon and then won the Quiz as well with Dave Wilcox of Bristol Rovers giving us a helping hand.
The Birkbeck had a singer performing and he entertained the crowd until late into the night in an excellent party atmosphere.
On the Sunday the youngsters headed into the big city for some sightseeing whilst the four oldies made their way to Dulwich Hamlet FC to meet up with some of our good pals from that neck of the wood.
Unfortunately the journey took so long, due to replacement buses and confused taxi drivers that by the time they reached Dulwich the youngsters were back in the Birkbeck.
A stadium tour of Champion Hill was followed by an enjoyable afternoon in the pub with the Dulwich guys and luckily only Martin had to buy a round which apparently came to £42, although he never mentions it.
Back to the Birkbeck for some more time with the O’s then home to Ilford for our last night.
We got the train back on Monday lunchtime and had a couple of drinks in the Horseshoe before all heading for home.
Another good weekend in London and a big thanks to our friends from Leyton, Dulwich, Bristol and Wolverhampton for their friendship and hospitality.
Above all else it was a weekend to remember Martin and he was always in our thoughts.
(PLENTY OF PHOTOS IN THE PHOTO GALLERY)