The occasion? The inaugural Edie Wilson Memorial Cup, a game that we were, on one hand looking forward to immensely, but on the other, wishing that there was no need for it to take place at all. Those of you who follow me on social media or read my blogs will know what I mean by that. For those who don't, please take a few minutes to follow this link http://www.ediesbutterflyappeal.com/
After a very pleasant brunch with Cate (Edie's mum), Scott (Edie's dad) and Jacob (Edie's brother), not to mention Lily Pickle (Edie's dog), we headed off to Silver Leys, home of Bishops Stortford Swifts FC in plenty of time to prepare for the 2pm kick-off. Not long after arriving at the ground I was very thankful that I had had the foresight to pack those shorts.
The game was to be played between Bishops Stortford Swifts (u16), Jacob's team, and St Nicholas School (u16), Jacob and Edie's school. Jacob, after much thought, had decided to play for Swifts.
The setting could not have been any better as kick-off approached. The weather was wonderful, the pitch was looking good, the cup was gleaming in the bright sunlight, the bar was open, and it was becoming very clear that a there was going to be a sizeable turnout for the game (well into 3 figures).
The game started with Swifts, in red and white stripes, kicking towards the rugby club end of the ground and they quickly had St Nicholas, in all blue, on the back-foot. Swifts passing and pace, especially down the flanks, was causing a few problems for the St Nicholas defenders. It looked as though we may have an early goal as the Blues found it difficult to muster and real possession. However, boosted by the organisation of their two centre-halves, the school team did gradually start to steady their ship and play their way into the game a little.
That was until midway through the 40 minute half when Swifts number 13 opened the scoring with a jinking run and low drive just inside the keeper's right-hand post. 1-0.
Just a minute later and Swifts almost made it 2-0 when Number 18 beat the keeper with a looping volley that came back off the underside of the St Nicholas bar and rebounded to safety, in an incident reminiscent of the infamous 1966 World Cup 'goal'. Given the fact that a boot signed by Geoff Hurst was one of the fund-raising items, if we had had an Azerbijani linesman, it may well have been signalled as a goal.
Only the linesman's flag prevented us from having a goal from Edie's brother as well. When a clearance landed at Jacob's feet, he immediately fired it back into the St Nicholas net only to find that the assistant had already flagged for offside.
Almost immediately after this stop, the St Nicholas keeper was called into action again, acting quickly to thwart a very quick Swifts break down the left. Unfortunately for the stopper, the loose ball fell to Swifts number 10 who immediately returned the ball into the unguarded net from outside the box. 2-0.
HT Swifts 2 St Nicholas 0. Those few minutes towards the end of the half were to prove very important and showed how the game can change in an instant. First the Swifts keeper saves well and sees the ball run to safety. Then the St Nicholas keeper does the same but, unluckily, sees the loose ball go straight to an opponent who, it has to be said, finished very well.
On 50 minutes it was five when the ball was bundled over the St Nicholas line following a right-wing corner. It was hard to see who got the last touch, but I am going to credit it to their Number 10. 5-0
Maybe, at this point, Swifts took their foot off the pedal? Maybe St Nicholas found a second wind? Whatever the case, they pulled a goal back on 56 minutes, 5-1, and then a minute later made it 5-2. (Note: St Nicholas did not have numbers on their shirts, so I can't even point to the goal-scorers identity.)
Could the comback be on after all?
No, Swifts were having none of that and, before the hour mark was up, they scored again. This time Number 6 volleying in from the edge of the box. 6-2.
On 70 minutes Swifts rapid winger, Number 7, broke down the right and squared for Number 18 to make it 7-2. Then, a few minutes later the scoring was wrapped up when Number 18 offered up a lovely strike to make it 8-2.
FT Bishops Stortford Swifts 8 St Nicholas School 2. Swifts take the inaugural Edie Wilson Memorial Cup after a thoroughly entertaining game at Silver Leys. Speaking to Scott after the game, it is very possible that this could become an annual event. Let's hope so. It was a smashing event and a lovely tribute to Edie, with so many people coming out to support the game.