CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Thursday 13th July 2017

We had our Annual General Meeting and Presentation Night for the 2016-2017 Season at the Edmonton Sports & Social Club on Friday 30th June, and as expected after such a successful season, we had the second-best turnout in the club's history and the best attendance ever when we have only been running one team. The number was 28 in total, and that included four of our Greats Of The Past in former Managers Trevor Hughes & Demitrius Nurse and ex-players Kieran McGregor & Paul Woolston. Trevor, Demi & Kieran presented the various awards and a great time was had by all.

We also announced a new kit sponsorship deal for the coming season courtesy of Chartered Accountants Anthonisz Neville LLP, and throughout the evening there were several conversations regarding previous kit sponsorships, previous AGM's, and the various pubs we used to drink in after matches. We have since continued discussing those memories in the club's Facebook Group, so I have therefore decided to do a bit more research about those subjects for this particular Chairman's Blog.

It is a Football Association regulation that all clubs at every level of the game must have an Annual General Meeting, but of course most adult 'one-man-band' non-Charter Standard Sunday League pub sides who only run one team rarely do. Most of those teams do give out end-of-season awards though, albeit just down the pub after the last match of the season in most cases. Although there have been two occasions in the last eight years where we had to cancel our AGM/Presentation Night due to a lack of interest, in general we have always arranged an AGM and carried out the correct procedures in terms of the Agenda, while also making sure we presented awards to our players during the meetings. Our very first club meeting (when we were founded) was in August 1976 when we squeezed 13 players and Committee members into my front room in Edmonton, and incredibly we held two more AGM's  in that same room in 1989 and 1990, the latter of which we managed to fit 19 in ! With all the junk in that room now, the most we would manage if we tried to have another AGM in there would only be three people. However, that wasn't the only front room we had club AGM's in. We had a seven-year spell of players taking it in turns to host the event at around that time in the mid to late-1980's and the early 90's, with David Ashton (in Ware), Adam Bramley (in Walthamstow), Chris Draper (Tramway Avenue, Edmonton), and two different houses that Demitrius Nurse lived at in Chingford all being used. The most memorable of those was at one of Demi's houses in 1988 after we had won the Division Two title that season in the Tottenham & Haringey Sunday League. Manager David Ashton had prepared a carefully-worded speech but had a lot of trouble reading it on the night. Whether that was stage-fright or he just couldn't read his own handwriting I don't know, but when Gareth John suddenly interrupted the speech in order to describe it as 'Janet & John', it took several minutes for the laughter to die down and for Dave to compose himself and eventually finish what he was trying to say. Of course I have been reading out speeches at AGM's ever since I co-founded the club with Ashton as a 17-year-old and it has never fazed me, but for others it can be quite nerve-wracking. Our current Manager Tony McKay was making his first speech at an AGM this summer and I lost count of the number of pints of Guinness that Kieran, Demi and some of our current players 'had to' buy him before and even during that speech...and another later in the evening when he was presenting his Manager's Player Of The Year awards ! After that initial meeting back in 1976 when we founded the club, our first actual AGM (in 1977) was held in the Charity Hall opposite Lion Road in Church Street, Edmonton N9. We then didn't have an AGM in 1978 because we were very badly-run at the time as I was only 19 and the majority of our players were only 17. We were getting thrashed in almost every match and we really needed some older heads to steady the ship in those first few years. However, we then had two AGM's at the Firs Hall Banqueting Suite in Winchmore Hill in 1979 and 1980 as we finally pulled ourselves together and won some trophies while playing in Division 8 of the Edmonton Sunday League. Firs Hall was demolished long ago for housing, but back in those days it was a high-class venue and we were fortunate to be able to use it thanks to a number of our players working there as chefs at the time. We even had a sit-down meal on both occasions, which is something we have not had at an AGM since...probably because our Firs Hall players' told us while we were eating that they had 'gobbed' into the food while they were cooking it for us ! That saw us start to use pub function rooms as a base for our AGM's for a few seasons thereafter, with a buffet replacing a proper meal. This was due to Trevor Hughes starting work as a Clerk/Trainee Solicitor at Tottenham Magistrates Court in Lordship Lane (N17) where his main job was licensing for pubs & clubs. He therefore got to know the landlords and we were invariably given free (or very cheap) use of function rooms in return. That saw the 1981 AGM held at the Queens Head pub in Green Lanes (opposite Turnpike Lane Underground Station), while the next three were held at the Red Lion pub in Landsdowne Road, N17, which was Trevor's 'local' during his lunch hour at work. It was at one of those Red Lion AGM's in 1983 where we had our biggest-ever attendance of 30 people (See picture left), although we were running two teams back then, which obviously helped. After the spell of using player's houses for our AGM's in the 80's and early-90's, for some reason (which I cannot remember), we hired the Enfield Harriers Athletic Club's function room next to the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Donkey Lane for our AGM in 1992. We had 27 attend that one, despite us only running one team and not winning anything that season. Such a good attendance appeared to be down to the fact that several new players had joined us who liked to drink (heavily !) and socialise a lot more, namely the Beeden brothers, Steve Beasley, Lee Osborn, Paul Rebairo, Conor McGovern and Steve 'Willie' Platt, while the infamous Dorward brothers and a number of others from the social group of those particular players took the drinking to even greater heights when they joined as well during the next couple of seasons. That AGM in 1992 saw the start of our tradition of showing a Goal Of The Season Top 10 where Manager Trevor Hughes would pick a first, second & third choice and the players would then all pay to enter and vote for their choices while watching the goals, with the nearest vote to Trevor's winning half of the money collected in, with the rest going into club funds to help pay for the hire of the room. Previously we had always charged our club members £2.50 or more for attending AGM's in order to pay for the hire costs involved. That yearly Goal Of The Season competition has carried on ever since, as has the showing of 'Out-Takes' videos and compilations from the season, which was another tradition started back in the early/mid-1990's. In 1993 we held our AGM at Haringey Borough FC as three of our players (Gary Southam, John Dyer & Kini Ndoko) all worked at the B.D.C. factory opposite the ground, then from 1994 for the next four seasons we used the Sportsmans Lounge at Enfield FC's long-now demolished Southbury Road Ground. This is not to be confused with the Starlight Rooms, the locally-'famous' nightclub at the same venue. We had to use the supporters bar, and as such, it was a case of us having our AGMs in one corner of the room while the Enfield supporters drank and made a noise in the other corner. We were able to use the venue for free though as I was filming all matches for the club at the time. This was also when I was a part-time mobile DJ as well as a cameraman, so for many of our AGM's between the mid-80's and the early-2000's we used my twin-deck mixing console as a P.A. system for the speeches & presentations and then played a few tunes afterwards, not that anybody really danced...until we had one of two AGM's in the function room at Edmonton Fire Station in the mid-2000's. It was the only time we had actually advertised a 'proper Disco' as part of the AGM, but I had given up by then to concentrate on my video business, leaving all the equipment and most of the vinyl to ex-Rovers player Tony O'Driscoll (otherwise known as 'TOD'), who had been my D.J.'ing partner as a double-act throughout his time playing for the club. Unfortunately TOD was unavailable to D.J. at that particular AGM, so I had to hire a twin-deck CD mixer at the last minute and do the DJ'ing myself. Having only ever mixed vinyl before, it wasn't great, but Stuart Dorward's wife Sarah and her many friends that came along seemed to enjoy it and the evening was a success with 22 club members in attendance plus approximately 10-12 WAGS.
Before those two Fire Station AGM's though, we used several different venues after I stopped filming for Enfield FC in the late-90's. In 1998 we had our AGM at the Opera House nightclub in Tottenham, formerly known as the Polo Club and a regular haunt of most of our players on a Saturday night back then. And yes, those players still somehow managed to get up and play for us the following morning. With our matches being shown on Sky Sports Soccer AM at the time, the Opera House therefore agreed to sponsor our kit, and the presentation of the cheque for that was made at the AGM. I honestly cannot remember how we managed to get through the Agenda & speeches with the music blaring out...which it was as soon as we got in there. All I can remember is us all sitting down on sofas in a secluded corner while going through that Agenda (alongside several random birds that some of our players had pulled) and then making a fool of myself on the dancefloor later on...because I was a bald Mr. Burns lookalike and nearing my 40th birthday whereas everybody else was most certainly not !

1999 saw us hold an AGM at our current home, the Edmonton Sports & Social Club for the first time. We also used it again the following year, but in 2001 we had an AGM at one of the most bizarre venues I can remember, namely the Indoor Bowls arena at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre in Enfield. This was because two of our players (Dave Bagnall & Anuj Bhardwaj) worked there at the time, so there must have been some sort of  perks on offer. However, the room was absolutely cavernous with a massively high ceiling, while there were no tables and very few chairs available and we basically sat cross-legged on the floor ! We did have 19 club members turn up though. 2002 saw the first of five AGM's held at Trevor Hughes's Snooker Room in Whetstone. This was at the bottom of his garden, and for the first one it rained heavily non-stop all evening, ruining the plans to have a barbecue as part of the AGM for the first time. For the following year (2003), as we had a really good season in finishing third in the Waltham Sunday League Premier Division, we invited WAGS along as it was being held on a Saturday instead of a Friday. However, our players (and their WAGS) thought it would be a good idea to spend the day having a pub crawl first before travelling to Whetstone, thereby resulting in the speeches, especially mine, being constantly the WAGS ! Of course we couldn't use the console in the Snooker Room because the snooker table itself was taking up the space where a dancefloor would have been, but being unable to drown out the noise from the WAGS with a microphone from a sound system wasn't the reason for our move to the Edmonton Fire Station for the 2004 AGM. It was because the Snooker Room had burnt down...due to an electrical fault, and thankfully not a dropped fag from one of our players. Although Edmonton Fire Station personnel probably helped to put the fire out, their function room was only used the following year (and the year after) because Reserve Team Manager Mark Howley knew somebody who worked there, rather than it being a 'thank you' gesture. Insurance paid for the Snooker Room to be rebuilt and back in action for three more AGM's during the late-2000's anyway, but that was when having AGM's on Saturdays started taking its toll with low turnouts caused by Weddings and other social commitments, as most of our players were by then in their late-20's and early-30's and either getting married themselves or knowing somebody who was. Whetstone being an awkward place to get to from the Enfield area was also now being cited as a problem, so we therefore had a couple of AGM's at the Beehive pub in Little Bury Street, N9 before settling on the Edmonton Sports & Social Club again, which is where we have held our last five AGM's and where we will obviously now have them all the time now that we actually play at that venue. The poor turnouts and cancellations we have had over the past six years up until the most recent AGM was purely because we were in a mess on the pitch in losing most of our matches, and every season we had players leaving the club before the AGM was held and players not joining until after the AGM and once Pre-Season Training had started. We did have an amazing turnout of 23 players at one of those Beehive AGM's in 2011 though, with hardly any excuses for absence whatsoever. That appeared to be because it was only the second AGM in the club's history that we had held on a Friday night and also because we had it in early June instead of the usual late July. Unfortunately though, Stuart Dorward (and other players who used the Beehive as their local) didn't realise it was the annual Enfield Council 'Moon Walk' that evening where hundreds of women wearing pink bras walk the streets raising money for cancer research while their husbands sit in the Beehive and have a few beers while waiting for them to return. The place was absolutely rammed and we had to hold the AGM in a tiny space wedged between the toilets and the pool table with the speeches and presentations being constantly being disrupted by the toilet door opening and closing and pool cues being inadvertently shoved up our players backsides. From all these different venues we have used over the past 41 years, I think we can safely say that the Edmonton Sports & Social Club is by far the most suitable. It is not only our home ground now, but the acoustics in the main room are perfect for speaking without a microphone, it is easy to plug into the wall-mounted TV screen to show our videos, and most importantly, we have the room to ourselves.

In addition to the venues we have used for our AGM's, there have also been several different pubs we have used on a regular basis after matches and training sessions. When we first started the club back in 1976 we were all under-age and therefore went straight home after matches. From what I can remember, that appeared to be generally the case right throughout our time in the Edmonton Sunday League, probably because a number of teams in that League were based at local pubs which were notorious for fights, football hooliganism and racism, so we didn't dare go back to those places after a match. When we did go to a pub after matches, it was invariably either the Rising Sun at the bottom of Winchester Road & Bury Street or the Stag & Hounds in Bury Street West, both of which were near the Bush Hill Park/Winchmore Hill border of Edmonton and in a nicer area than the rougher pubs of Edmonton Green or the N18 postcode.

When we joined the Haringey League back in 1984 and started playing at Hazelwood Sports Ground in Palmers Green though, we had a long period drinking at the nearby Fox pub in Green Lanes after our Home games before going back to the Stag & Hounds in the early-90's when the afore-mentioned large group of younger players joined us, as that was their 'local' at the time. The Stag & Hounds was then used on a regular basis for most of the 90's until they changed landlords and turned it into a posh restaurant. They certainly didn't want riff-raff like us in there on a Sunday lunchtime all covered in mud. That was when we then went to the Queens Head in Station Road Winchmore Hill for a couple of seasons before ending up using the much 'trendier' On Broadway (in the same road but further down at the junction with Station Road in Winchmore Hill) as our post-match base. (See picture right). The Queens Head was basically a 'boring' old man's pub, whereas On Broadway's clientele were all in their late-teens and 20's with 'plenty of birds in there', subsequently attracting a number of Sunday League teams to drink in there and also receive shirt sponsorship and free chips, chicken nuggets and sausages from the pub in doing so. That appealed massively to our players of course and we used On Broadway after every Home match from the late-90's for about 10 years or so. With us playing in the Waltham Sunday League though, for our Away matches it was now safe to drink in our opponents pubs or clubhouses as it was much more hospitable up in places like Wormley, Hoddesdon & Ware than it was in Edmonton and Haringey. However, for the last few years of our long spell in the Waltham League we were so poor on the pitch that our players just didn't feel like having a drink they didn't, and the team spirit suffered badly as a result. Moving to the Edmonton Sports & Social Club in 2015 was the best decision we ever made in that respect, as having our own clubhouse and bar on site has made a massive difference. This is why for Sunday League clubs, the post-match drink is so important. It keeps clubs alive when it can be done.

As for the various different kits we have worn over the years and the sponsorship that came with them, we started off in 1976 with green shirts, white shorts & green socks, but the green shirts faded in the wash and only lasted that first season. Our change strip of a sickly-looking yellow was also dumped by our 'Kit Manager' of the time, Gary Cooper...who was last seen using one of those shirts to wash his car with. Cooper then bought a new set of green shirts for our first season in the Edmonton Sunday League, but somehow managed to get small shorts-sized numbers printed on the back of them, making us look a laughing stock ! (See picture left). In 1978 we therefore bought a completely new set of kit which was white shirts with a green & black stripe running down the arms, then green shorts and green socks. This kit lasted well until near the end of the 1979-1980 Season when somebody washed them in a machine that unknown to them was full of grey dye. As that particular colour didn't look too appealing, Demitrius Nurse's mother washed them in green dye instead, but they came out as a sort of faded lime green. They were therefore given to our newly-formed Reserve Team to use, but as it happened, that kit was way ahead of its time as there was nothing like that around in those days, although there certainly is now ! The First Team then used red shirts with green shorts & socks after successfully wearing that as a change kit for two Cup Finals that we played in in 1980, before playing in red & black striped shirts with black shorts and red socks. That was during our final days in the Edmonton Sunday League in the early 80's after a failed attempt to use an innovative green & blue striped kit with blue shorts and green socks. That was when we mistakenly thought Medium meant 'any player under 6 foot and 12 stone' and Large meant 'any player over 6 foot and 12 stone'. We soon found out that when it comes to football kit, you buy Large instead of Medium and Extra Large instead of Large. Our players just couldn't get that green & blue kit on without it tearing at the seams and it only lasted one match ! (See picture right). That red & black striped kit was actually our first kit sponsorship courtesy of Palmers Green-based Gordon Grose Sports, who two of our players (Julien Nurse and Tony O'Driscoll) worked for at the time. In fact we also got a set of short-sleeved grey Newcastle United Away shirts from there which we wore for the 1985-1986 Season in the Haringey League, this being the only time up until now that we have ever worn a short-sleeved kit. We had the toughest set of players that had ever played for the club back in those days though. They had to be to survive in the Haringey League. Those grey shirts were worn with black shorts and red socks, but with our Scottish-born founder David Ashton playing regularly again at that stage and then taking over as Manager for the 1987-1988 Season though, we then 'had to' use a complete Celtic kit for three seasons. It wasn't sponsored and the club paid for it, but we won the Haringey League Division Two title wearing it, so it all worked out well. Our entry into the Waltham Sunday League in 1988 saw us settle on green & black as our club colours after finishing bottom of the Division Three table in our first season wearing the Celtic kit in that League. Ashton's company Savannah Landscaping were the sponsors for that one, which was a fleecy-lined chess-board patterned Le Coq Sportif kit, while the infamous 'nipple busters' was our change kit...a set of white shirts with green pin-stripes made by Spall. In 1992 we were sponsored by Demitrius Nurse's company Nurse & Co., who were financial advisors. That was for an Umbro all-jade design which was apparently Torpedo Moscow's Away kit, and jade (as opposed to normal green) then became our constant shirt colour for us for the next 21 years. We made a bit of a mistake in 1998 by choosing the little-known and long now defunct Sky Sportswear for another all-jade kit after being sponsored by the Opera House nightclub though, as the shirt sleeves were all way too tight and the whole kit had to be returned. They did send us an amended kit, but we didn't wear it for too long before we went with Prostar two years later on receiving sponsorship from the On Broadway pub. That was for jade shirts, black shorts & green socks, and we wore two different versions and three new sets of that kit for the next 13 years. In 2013, with jade kits no longer made by anybody and our poor form on the pitch failing to attract new sponsors, we were 'forced' to go back to normal green again with an Adidas kit of green shirts with black shoulders, black shorts and green socks. This kit was initially paid for from club funds, but Kingsland Builders eventually came on board to sponsor the kit after James Hatchett took over as Manager. James resigned after only six months though and Kingsland Builders appeared to go bust shortly afterwards as their website disappeared, so hopefully it didn't matter too much that when we won the Barnet Sunday League Division Two title last season we were wearing shirts where their logo had completely faded from the printed white background and nobody could see anything at all...even from a yard away, let alone on You Tube ! We are certainly now making sure that our new sponsors Anthonisz Neville LLP will be getting their name printed clearly on our new kit and that when we first walk out in it, they will be seen clearly on You Tube and other media that we use. Everything we do now is so much improved after these 41 years of trials and tribulations with AGM's and new kits.

In the meantime, we are also trying to secure a sponsorship for some rain jackets, namely 16 numbered jackets for the squad on the day of a match plus four initialled ones for our non-playing Management Team, which is Manager Tony McKay, Assistant Manager Roderick Bennett, Goalkeeping Coach Bob Cleary and of course myself. However, our players have been having a heated debate about that in our WhatsApp Group as some of them think each registered player and Committee member should add their own money to the sponsorship so that everybody has their own initialled rain jacket that they bring to matches but can also wear casually when out and about during the week, thereby giving the sponsor even more publicity from having their name printed on the back. Other players think that we should forget about having a sponsor for the rain jackets and just encourage (or even force !) each player to pay £25 each, including new players when signing up for the club, whereby they will then be given an initialled rain jacket to keep and wear 'forever' because it will not have a sponsor's name on the back. The obvious problem with that idea is that some players (and Committee members) cannot afford that sort of money, therefore resulting in the same problem we have had ever since we were founded where we have everybody all wearing different rain jackets and other clothing while warming-up and/or standing on the touchline. Ideally we want to look like a team with everybody wearing the same, as that undoubtedly breeds confidence. Of course it is really ironic that players now actually want to wear rain jackets with 'Edmonton Rovers F.C.' printed on the back while they are out and about. That is what winning a League Title does for you. It would certainly never have happened when we were losing every week in the Waltham Sunday League, as players left the club in their droves because of the embarrassment at people finding out (invariably from You Tube) that they played for us. There is no way that our players would have wanted to advertise the club's name on their backs in those days for sure !
CLICK HERE to view a PDF list of all our Annual General Meetings since our formation in 1976.
CLICK HERE to view of PDF of team photos featuring all the different kits we have worn since our formation in 1976.




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