U.C.L. Academicals Football Club

(The Accies)

SOL Senior 3 Winners 1986-87 - 1st XI                                 SOL Intermediate 3 Winners 1987-88 - 2nd XI                              SOL Junior 4 Winners 1987-88 - 3rd XI                                SOL Junior Cup Winners 1987-88 - 3rd XI                                     SOL Junior 3 Winners 1988-89 - 3rd XI                                 SOL Minor D Winners 1988-89 - 4th XI                                   SOL Intermediate Cup Winners 1991-92 - 2nd XI                                      SOL Minor A Winners 1993-94 - 4th XI                                       SOL Mander Cup Winners 1993-94 - 4th XI                                   SOL Senior 2 Winners 1998-99 - 1st XI                                AFA Senior Cup Winners 1999-2000 - 1st XI                                    AFA Senior Cup Winners 2000-01 - 1st XI                                   SOL Premier Winners 2000-01 - 1st XI                                      SOL Veterans Cup Winners 2000-01 - Vets XI                                 SOL Junior 3 North Winners 2001-02 - 6th XI                                        AFA Junior Cup Winners 2002-03 - 3rd XI                                         AFC 3 North Winners 2002-03 - 4th XI                                  AFC Intermediate North Winners 2003-04 - 2nd XI                                                                    AFA Junior Cup Winners 2003-04 - 3rd XI                                   AFC 6 North Winners 2003-04 - 5th XI                        LOB Junior Cup Winners 2003-04 - 3rd XI                                 AFC 1 North Winners 2003-04 - 3rd XI                                   LOB Intermediate Cup Winners 2004-05                                             LOB Junior Cup Winners 2004-05                                           LOB Junior Cup Winners 2005-06                                        LOB Senior Cup Winners 2007-08                                         AFC Senior 3 North Winners 2007-08                              LOB Senior Cup Winners 2008-09 - 1st XI                               AFC 7 North Winners 2009-10 - 5th XI                              AFC 9 North Winners 2009-10 - 6th XI                               AFC Senior One Winners 2010-11 - 1st XI

    Other Sports Links:

UCL Mens          UCL Womens          UCL Alumni          Hockey          Rugby

Home Page

Facebook
Training Tops

Results, Tables & Stats

Club Committee
UCL Students
Shenley Googlemap
Accies Ladies
Discipline Code
Club Rules
History

Accies International

Maps and Links

Joining the Accies

2004 UCL ACADEMICALS AGM

Held at 7.15pm on Tuesday 20th July at The Chadwick Street Recreation Centre, Chadwick Street, Westminster

Present: Danny McConnell, Sam Samra, Mark McGuigan, Scott Atkinson, Spencer Gore, Rob James, Graham Whitworth, Chris Coates, Derek Fowler.

Apologies for absence: Martin Woodrow, Adrian Haysome, Danny Fewkes, Dan Chantler, Mark Dawson.

Minutes of the 2003 AGM: The minutes of the 2003 AGM were approved.

1. 2003-04 Secretary’s Report

2002-03 saw the second season for the Amateur Football Combination, and further success for the Accies as well as the club expanding to run League seven sides.

Five trophies were won – the 3rd XI winning the league as well as clinching the AFA Junior Cup and the LOB Junior Cup, completing the season unbeaten. The 2nd and 5th XI’s also won their league titles. The 1st and 2nd XI’s finished runners up in their LOB Cups, whilst the 4th XI finished runners up in their league, securing promotion.

Week by week the recent strong pattern continued. Most teams were strong, and all teams turned out each week expecting to win. We need to continue the policy of ensuring that players are playing at the right level for their abilities, particularly as certain players tend to get older, as well as with new players coming into the club. The priority has to be to ensure that all players get a competitive game at a level that suits them. “Playing with your mates” is not always practical within a club trying to run seven (or more!) sides. Everyone should be making themselves available for the club, and if this means moving up or down a side, should accept this.

Administratively there remains work to be done. Too many club members needed to be chased for the increasing amount of discipline paperwork, and the club lost a serious chunk of money on training. Dan Chantler introduced a new system for monitoring the finances, which on one level was a major improvement, but needs more liason with captains.

Failure to confirm availability and failure to pay subs remains a headache for most skippers, and one or two perhaps suffered from not being hawkish enough with those who messed them around..

1st XI – The 1st XI season proved in the end to be an anti-climax, if not a disappointment. Third in the AFC, runners-up in the LOB Senior Cup and semi-finalists in the AFA Senior Cup is a pretty decent season, but too many people seemed to assume a trophy was the be-all and end-all.

Too often the team failed to try and take the initiative. An early goal scored and we’re heading for the Champions League, an early concession and we’re heading for the Rymans! As a consequence the season was far too “up and down” and descended into a rather disappointing bout of “finger pointing”, with the first question too often “whose fault was that” rather than “what can I do to sort this out”.

It may be that time is starting to catch up on the 1sts. Traditionally the Accies tend to stop playing earlier than players at other clubs, with family commitments and so forth taking a greater toll at weekends for players whose weekdays are dominated by work. That is what we’re about, but if we’re to compete at the highest levels people need to realise the week-in, week-out commitment required. It’s not a criticism of people who choose to put careers first, that’s the sort of club we are. But everyone has to accept that’s the choice they make.

As we’d already suspected, tactical weaknesses continued to show. Quite simply it’s not possible for a skipper on the pitch to concentrate on his own game and worry about the rest of the team – one or both suffer, and at Premier Division level that’s a handicap. Next season the Accies will have a genuine “manager” for the first time, and will hopefully mean far more movement between 1st and 2nd XIs during the season.

It’s not that much of step to get back to the top, but the small steps required might be quite painful.

2nd XI – The bridesmaid finally got her day. Despite losing the LOB Intermediate Cup on penalties the 2nds walked away with their league. A slightly larger squad was used, although this meant Fewksey and McGuigan spending much of the season on the bench (though the benefit of sideline management was a bonus) and a number of players will threaten to break into the 1st XI next season.

3rd XI – That the 3rd XI were team of the season in 2003-04 cannot be doubted. A settled and generally happy squad carried all before them. The few gripes would be the attitude of some of the players – Scott spent far too much time chasing people up, dealing with lateness and coping with tantrums which slightly marred the end of the season for him. That his attitude towards dealing with these problems and mine differed markedly is probably of credit to Scott (and certainly good news for those concerned!) but it’s also reflected in the reluctance of the remaining players to succeed Scott for next season. A big act to follow, and Scott deserves great credit for his efforts over a number of years.

4th XI – Perhaps the most difficult season to assess. Decimated by injuries was it a disappointment that they couldn’t challenge Albanian for the league title, and lost in the semis of the AFA? Or an achievement to have clinched promotion and progressed that far? Probably a mixture of the two – runners up in the league was quite remarkable, and the AFA loss ultimately very disappointing. In the end it came down to an away draw, with the opposition choosing the smallest, bobbliest pitch they could find, then simply outbattling the Accies. “We’d have beaten them at Shenley” was the fall-back refrain, and all too familiar from many Accies sides. We’ve heard it before, and we’ll hear it again.

5th XI – The decision to merge the nuclei of the old 5ths and 6ths and see what came out brought immediate fruit as the 5ths cruised to a league title. After a settling in period the team simply marched through the rest of the season playing some of the best football at 5th team level I’ve seen. One or two people struggled to get a fair run, not least because of the good availability of most players, and the 6th XI deserve credit for their support.

By far the darkest moment of the season came in a 5th XI AFA Cup game, with serious racism and threats of violence directed towards the Accies. I’ve included a copy of the letter of complaint sent to the AFA with these notes, as at this stage of the season it’s pertinent for all Accies to be aware of what can happen when things go wrong.

The initial complaint by the Accies fell by the wayside, mainly because of lack of support by the referee. Towards the end of the season Old Camdenians track record caught up with them, and the side was expelled from the AFC. They still face action by the AFA.

6th XI – A season of inconsistency. The “other half” of the old 5ths and 6ths proved to be “fairly senior” group and as such they tended to perform better away from Shenley than at home (where often younger sides simply outran them). The core of the side are starting to slide into retirement, and next season will probably require a major influx of youth and bodies.

7th XI – Last AGM there were no plans for a 7th XI, but in September it quickly became clear the Accies had enough players to run a 7th team, and the league kindly allowed us a late entry. The early months were difficult, with the side playing home games at Donkey Lane, Enfield and quite some turnover of players. One of the saddest elements of any rebuilding of a side is that one or two players, usually very keen, end up missing out because better players come along, and this was the case with the 7ths.

On the positive side, Spencer Gore’s captaincy (never dull, as Spenny swooped alternatively between the emotional heavens and the darkest depths) meant a large influx of “lost Accies”, most ex-UCL and all professing undying keen-ness to play next season. Whether enthusiasm to play in cold, dark December matches that of sunny April remains to be seen, but one hopes all will continue.

The biggest problem for next season is likely to be the number of players, but with the 6ths probably needing half-a-dozen players (and the 7ths likely to be overloaded anyway) it’s likely a “block transfusion” will be the answer. The key is getting the balance right – some of the players are too good to be playing in 9 North, but others are likely to struggle much higher up. We want to ensure people are playing at the standard to suit them.

Optimists – A season of change. Paul Matthewson stepped down mid-season to be replaced by Ian Christopherson, and by the season’s end the five year debate over whether to play Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings was settled in favour of the latter. Hopefully it should produce better availability, as well as stronger sides.

For next season there’s a serious hope to compete strongly in the LOB Cup, though the Accies will need to do well to challenge the strongest sides.

All Sides - Two more general aspects applied to all sides for 2003-04. For the first time in memory each team were settled at the goalkeeping position, and we didn’t have the week by week chase for someone to fill the sticks. Not something that should be quickly forgotten.

On the flip side, many sides often probably carried one player too many. 14 players are generally too many on a Saturday, as are 11 not enough. 12 or 13 should be the optimum, or a skipper struggles to give everyone a decent game. It’s a balance, but we do need to remember we’re an amateur club – not many people are going to turn up regularly for 10 or 20 minutes here and there.

Golden Boot – The Golden Boot was won by Lloyd Vanson (41 goals) whose promotion to the 1sts next season is all but guaranteed. Runner-up was Paul Bernard, who might have been closer but for multiple injuries. The competition for the Golden Gloves was a runaway for Matt Ramsden (14), chased by Danny McConnell (11) though frankly we could regularly have gone for a beer together and still kept them such was the protection offered. But it was entertaining to see quite how seriously Matt took it all.

The Secretary’s Report was accepted.

 

2. Financial Statement

A more detailed breakdown of the club’s finances should follow, but briefly at the start of the season our account stood at around £6500 (£5500 in the bank, £1000 in pitch credits). At the season end we had £4500 (£3700 in the bank, £800 in pitch credits). Basically a loss of £2000 on the season.

The reasons for the significant losses were twofold. First we spent £1200 on new kits, £700 more than we’d budgeted for. Secondly, we spent between £1000 and £1500 on training, which was meant to be covered by collecting training subs, and wasn’t.

Our bank balance of £3700 is around £2000 lower than it ought to be. At the start of each season we basically need to find £5000 up front (£450 AFA affiliation fees, £100 LOB cup entries, £350 AFC league entries and £3400 for Shenley, as well as up to £500 for kit and balls) before a ball is kicked (i.e. before a penny is collected). A bank balance of £6000 ought to be the sensible working minimum. 12 months ago we were close to it, now we’ve taken a couple of steps backwards.

Next Season

Next season our costs will rise: pitches are increasing to £85.00 (from £80.00, still cheap at the price), teas at Shenley to £39.00 (from £30.00, not so cheap, but combined with the cost of pitches still very decent) and referees fees to £22.00 (from £20.00). Assuming we play 90 home games this takes a further £1400 out of the budget.

Given the increase in these “home game costs” it was proposed that match fees should rise by £1.00 per match to £8.00 (the first rise in match fees for six years, though the next is likely to come more quickly). This would raise an extra £1800 (180 matches, £10 per match).

It was further proposed that annual subscriptions should rise to £30.00 (£25.00 if paid before 31st October) from £25.00.

A discussion followed on whether subscriptions should be higher, to give the club the financial muscle to look at more ambitious projects (nature undetermined) and raising match fees to both £9.00 and £10.00 were considered. A second proposition to raise match fees to £9.00 was made, and a vote taken on whether £8.00 or £9.00 should be the new level. A 5-2 vote was in favour of the rise to £8.00.

It was agreed that consideration of a rise to £10.00 should be made at the 2005 AGM, but this should be flagged in advance on the agenda. The Secretary noted that he believed such a significant decision as a rise in subscriptions should at least be flagged as an agenda item to the membership in advance of the AGM.

In summary next season match fees will be increased to £8.00, halved for students and first year graduates, annual subs £30.00 if playing ten or more games (£25.00 if paid by 31st October) and £10.00 “social subs” if playing four or more games, with a £10.00 match fee for the vets. Annual subs for students and unemployed to be waived.

Training – Pre-Season and Mid-Season

Training was also discussed. It can be divided into two groups: “summer training” (pre-season, which effectively also serve as trials) and mid-season “training” (generally less well attended).

The pre-season training, which also serves to juggle existing players and integrate new members should be continued. It was agreed that these sessions should essentially be self-funding, and not paid for out of central subscriptions. At training sessions on a hired pitch we would collect a £5.00 training fee (half for students).

Mid-season training was also discussed. The general consensus was that this remains unrealistic for the club. Our members are too spread around London, and too often have to work too late to be able to make a regular commitment to training. Formal training is simply not what the club is about.

However, if ad-hoc midweek slots become available (as they sometimes do via London Legal League cancellations) we will take those (they cost us nothing) and we should also endeavour to find a few more midweek matches.

3. KITS

With the club having bought three new kits in 2003-04 (1sts, 4ths and 7ths) and a major offseason inventory of kits completed our position is pretty healthy.

There was discussion about whether it would be a good idea for all sides to have a change strip, which rather than storing at Shenley (there are so many it’s causing them some concerns) teams could carry them around themselves. This would also mean a set of change shirts is available for away games when the opposition turn up in the wrong colour (not uncommon). At present we have enough change strips (three Pro-Star, one Crystal Palace, one Arsenal) for five sides, so we’d need to purchase two more strips. Scott Atkinson to investigate his Coq Sportif link.

We also need to buy some more water bottles.

 

4. IMPROVING THE SOCIAL ELEMENT FOR THE ACADEMICALS

Sad to say, not a lot happened last season, with Spencer Gore taking over the 7th team captaincy and having little time to devote to the job. The Christmas club function happened but the end of season was celebrated by the individual sides on separate days. The 1st XI held a formal dinner, the 5th XI did the Monopoly board pub crawl and all other sides had an end of season do, but nothing club-wide.

This is a fairly crucial question for the Accies. Ten years ago the club was essentially comprised of six separate “clubs within clubs”. Each was a clique of people “playing with their mates”. The downside of this was twofold – first we never won anything (contrast the club’s 6 trophies in five seasons in the 1980’s, 5 trophies in the ten seasons of the 1990’s and 12 trophies in the five seasons of the 2000’s) and secondly the influx of students from UCL ground to a near halt. Our estimate of UCL alumni playing in the 3rds/4ths/5ths/6ths in 1998 was two, with the core aging and the club effectively heading towards extinction!

UCL remains the life-blood of the Accies. I would never argue that the club should be “closed” (hardly any AFA club is closed nowadays) but we are here to “provide football for UCL Alumni and their friends”. Students from UCL ought to be able to join the Accies and play at their standard, not necessarily with the one or two people that they know beforehand. You soon get to know your new team-mates anyway.

Nevertheless, this is a weakness of the club. If we all lived in and around Clapham, and our ground was in Clapham, then inevitably you’d get much of the club there in the evening, and you’d see your mates before and after a game, even if you didn’t play in the same match as them. However, we don’t – Shenley isn’t a buzzing social place (!), and inevitably people head back in London soon after games and dissipate.

Spencer Gore had stepped down as Social Secretary prior to the AGM, but with no-one else standing he agreed to continue, albeit warning that he still didn’t have time to do much – if a replacement appears during the season he’d be more than welcome to take over.

It was agreed Spencer would investigate an end of season club dinner, quite possibly in UCL. This would require commitment (financial) from people up front – the club don’t have the resources to subsidise this (at present).

We would also investigate reviving the tradition of having one night a month as “Accies night” in the UCL Students Union. DMc to talk to “the younger element” regarding which day of the week/month would be most suitable.

 

5. ELECTION OF OFFICERS

The following were all proposed, unopposed, 21 days in advance of the AGM, unless otherwise indicated, and duly elected:

Chairman – Danny McConnell

Vice Chairman – Mark Dawson

Treasurer – Derek Fowler

Hon. Secretary – Danny McConnell

Fixture Secretary – Mark Dawson

Social Secretary – Spencer Gore (elected on the evening)

Referees Secretary – Mark Dawson/Danny McConnell

Statistician – Bobby Butlin

1st XI Captain/Manager – Mark McGuigan

2nd XI Captain/Manager – Danny Fewkes

3rd XI Captain/Manager – vacant (subsequently Phil Stewart was elected, to be assisted by Scott Atkinson)

4th XI Captain/Manager – Dan Willoughby

5th XI Captain/Manager – Rob James

6th XI Captain/Manager – Bobby Butlin

7th XI Captain/Manager – Spencer Gore

Veterans XI Captain – Ian Christopherson

The continued difficulty in finding new officers remains a concern. On the one hand we all know we’re a club of busy, professional people, but on the other hand too many people cause too much hassle for those who do the organizing, making it less appealing for them, and less appealing for successors.

The club also needs to be aware that its key officers will not be around forever. One of the strengths of the Accies over the last six years has been the centralisation of organisation, but this is a potential weakness as well. There’s a critical point of failure we need to be aware of.

The secretary reported that over the last twelve months he’d found myself sometimes struggling with various elements of things, whether it be basic paperwork (chasing up the same people for the n’th time for something) or bigger elements of club management. It may be in a year’s time that he’d suggest someone takes over the Club Secretary job (dealing with the basic paperwork between the club and the county, as distinct from the nitty gritty of running the club), something we foresaw some time ago when we officially split the positions of Club Chairman and Club Secretary.

Whether the club needs to have occasional committee meetings to keep everyone in the loop is something we need to consider, though it would place an extra time burden on busy officers. To be considered by the committee closer to the start of the season.

On the positive side, thanks must go to this year’s skippers and other officers. Dan Chantler has hopefully laid the groundwork for the club finances working efficiently, and Mark Dawson has done his usual superb job with fixtures, as well as the less visible job of keeping the Secretary sane (and in his “Attila the Hun” moments, calm!). The skippers have done a good job of chasing players and managing their teams and without them we’d be nowhere. Thanks to both Jon Houghton and Scott Atkinson, stepping down.

6. CONTACTS WITH UCL

The continuing influx of ex-UCL players is good, but needs to be continued, and the onus inevitably falls on the youngest members. We do get our pitches at a significantly reduced rate because we’re a UCL Alumni club, and we ought to do our best to maximise the number of UCL Alumni.

For the Mandy Walker games in summer 2004 we decided to abandon the 11-a-side game and simply concentrate on the 5-a-side tournament, which continued to be a major success. The question we need to address is whether we want some sort of 11-a-side. At the 2003 AGM we decided to try and organise two games in the spring, under lights, but these foundered because come March the Accies are busy with cup finals and title runs.

It was agreed to make a decision during the season according to how our fixture position looks come spring 2005.

7. DISCIPLINE

In 2003-04 the club reached AFA Disciplinary Stage 1 for the first time in our history, triggering a fine from the AFA, and our continued pattern of increased indiscipline continues.

The club needs to make a decision about what it wants to do with discipline. On the one hand, it’s safe to argue that a certain number of cards “go with the territory”, particularly with two sides playing Senior football and most sides playing quite a few cup games (which tend to attract “better officials”).

On the flip-side, we continue to have a number of “silly cards” – dissent, abusing referees, deliberate tripping of opponents, posturing. The attitude to them also seems to be worsening:- to name just a handful of thumbnail sketches from the season – the 3rds betting on who’d get bookings, a player sent off for a second cautionable offence of dissent,  a player cautioned for a reckless challenge (diving in) after the referee had already penalised perhaps a dozen such challenges. None of these are about football, they’re about individual stupidity. I’m not trying to nail individuals, simply illustrating the general attitude.

Far too many players seemed to quibble with bookings (“it’s not my fault”, “I’m not going to change the way I play”) and the secretary seems to spend far too much time chasing up the paperwork for them.

The general opinion (though not consensual) was that the club didn’t have a serious discipline problem and that we should continue to monitor it. A one game suspension for a third caution during the season and a season suspension for a fourth caution was felt to be excessive and the Disciplinary Code should be modified accordingly.

The whole Disciplinary Code should be revised prior to next year’s AGM and should be an agenda item.

 

8. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

There was a long discussion regarding club policy on selection and integration of players, particularly (but not exclusively) with regard to the 7th XI.

At the start of last season the Accies expanded to seven sides, all at rather short notice and with the indulgence of the league. Over the last five years we have had a steady influx of new players, but with the Accies ca 1999 generally being a club of aging players there had been no problem accommodating newcomers. However, the age profile is now generally (but not exclusively!) much lower, and we found ourselves with too many players to fit into six sides.

The sevenths began playing at Donkey Lane, Enfield, paying reduced match fees, as Shenley couldn’t provide the extra pitches at short notice, although the college did a superb job in making this only last until January. This did however tend to foster an “outsider mentality”. In addition the side showed many of the characteristics of a “rebuilding lower side” with a significant turnover of players whilst the captain, Spencer Gore, tried to get a settled team of players of suitable standard.

At the same time, Spencer managed to do a good job of recruiting ex-UCL players who for various reasons had left, or never joined the Accies.

Fairly inevitably, this has created a situation where the team has some players who are probably too good to be playing 7th team standard, but players who tend to want to play with the people they know.

There was a long discussion regarding this whole situation – on the one hand we are an amateur club, people want to play with their friends and so forth, whilst on the other the club is about running seven sides, and people should expect to make themselves available for the club, and not one particular side (equally importantly, league rules require us to run this week). The general opinion was that this must continue – as far as possible we should run as a club, with players playing for sides based on merit, and not have cliques.

Equally, it was agreed that the policy of “regulars before irregulars” should continue. Our commitment should be towards players who are available for 75% of fixtures (ideally 90% for goalkeepers). Players who are not available as regularly as this should not take priority over regular players, even if they happen to be better footballers.

Sam Samra, about the only person who played for both sides last season, was of the opinion that the 7ths might well be better than the 6ths (and certainly younger) and it was agreed that in pre-season we needed to ensure a proper integration of the sides, and that people were playing in the right sides.

 

The meeting was closed at 9.20pm

Appendix A

You will find below a copy of a letter sent to the AFA in December. This report on the match was composed by myself having received individual reports from the whole of the 5th team following the game.

In March 2004 (having lost the report for three months) the AFA decided not to take any action after the referee failed to submit a supporting report, but once this letter came to the attention of the AFC (which it couldn’t until the AFA had deliberated) various other reports on Old Camdenians 4ths also surfaced. At a league meeting in April 2004 the team were thrown out of the league, and the AFA have now charged the club as well.

I don’t include this to nail Camdenians, but as an illustration of what can go wrong, as well as a report on the most serious incident I’ve come across in twenty years of Saturday football with UCL and the Accies (though, sadly,  I have been involved in worse on a Sunday morning).

That the case has taken over six months to progress is a concern, and with a league/county hat on remains one of my greatest areas of interest. Partly it’s because the AFA lost our letter for some months, partly because the referee wasn’t strong enough to submit a report (or indeed, apparently, be aware of what happened).Whether there was also a factor that the Accies have a well known reputation as a “club who wind up opposition” (at least at 1st XI level, which is all most of the AFA are interested in) I don’t know – I hope not!

We do play to win, but there are more important things.

 

U.C.L. ACADEMICALS F.C.

Hon. Sec.: Danny McConnell, PO Box 605, Bromley, Kent, BR2 0YQ. Tel: 020-8325-2448.

Mike Brown

General Secretary

Amateur Football Alliance

55 Islington Park Street

London

N1 1QB

 

cc: John Monk (Hon. Secretary, Amateur Football Combination)

                                                                                                3rd December 2003

Dear Mike

I am writing with regard to the AFA Senior Novets Cup fixture played last Saturday, 30th November, at our London Colney ground between UCL Academicals 5th XI and Old Camdenians 4th XI, refereed by Fredrick Gunnell and won 2-1 by Old Camdenians after extra time.

I played in this game myself and can honestly say that in my twenty years of senior football I have never witnessed such disgraceful behaviour as we suffered on Saturday at the hands of Old Camdenians.

From the outset of the game our players, substitutes and the referee were subjected to a continual barrage of abuse, general, racist and violent from Camdenians, particularly from those on the touchline. Camdenians had half a dozen people on the sideline, three of them substitutes, including a “manager” and other supporters.

The game itself was a hard fought match, with tackles flying in on both sides, doubtless stoked up by the verbals which did literally start from the first minute, and as this went unchecked it got worse and worse. Equally it was played in wet windy conditions, with a quarter final of the AFA Cup at stake, so one would expect a hard fought competitive game.

During the second half we had two pitch invasions from their touchline, the first after a perceived foul by one of our players (dealt with by the referee) who was confronted by a number of Camdenians players, substitutes and spectators, the second when the referee dismissed one of the Camdenians players (we’re not sure why, it could have been for preventing a goal-scoring opportunity, serious foul play, or foul and abusive language – clearly this will be in the referee’s report).

From this stage onwards the abuse was absolutely continuous, and of an overt racist nature towards some of our players; Sajeed Malik, Ethu Crorie and Adam Mammon. Comments included “You dirty monkey”, “Fuck him and his chicken tikka masala”, “Chicken tikka masala won’t even look at me”, “Why don’t you fuck off home”, “Why don’t you fuck off back to Bombay where you came from” and “Who let the Paki score” (when we equalised in the final minute of normal time).

There was also the more typical (alas) general abuse, “you dirty cunt”, “take his knees out”, “when we come on we’re going to break your legs” and so forth.

Chillingly, halfway through the second half, one of the Camdenians walked behind my goal-mouth, and with the ball fifty yards away quite calmly told me “if this carries on, some of you guys are going to be getting a knife in the stomach." I ignored the comment. "Seriously, and I might be doing it" he added. At the time I found this distinctly frightening, as it seemed to be no idle threat – this was not a heat of the moment comment, he was quite calm and calculated.

With hindsight, I wish at that moment I had called the referees’ attention and asked him to abandon the game. Unfortunately, I was not at that stage aware of the nature of the abuse that was flying around, stuck in a goal mouth with a 30mph wind blowing across the pitch much of it didn’t come to my attention until after the game. I could hear there was abuse, but not the wording.

The game then proceeded into extra time, as we equalised in the final minute of normal time. At this stage I asked one of our players who had been substituted to go to our 2nd or 4th XI pitches (both sides also had AFA Cup games) and ask one of the referees on those to come over and observe the extra time period once their games had finished. I was relieved that from the 4th XI pitch Robert Baxter did so, and he stayed on the sideline for the remainder of the Extra Time period.

I did this simply to cover all bases – to add a second pair of neutral eyes in case the referee needed assistance (which I rather expected), and for the protection of the referee and our players. To an extent it worked, as the abuse from the sideline during the extra time period somewhat subsided (albeit to a still unacceptable level).

Midway through the second extra time period Camdenians scored the goal that proved to be the winner, provoking yet another pitch invasion. I am afraid to say that I only felt relief at the goal, as I am sure that their winning the game ensured that nothing serious happened afterwards. Had we won the game, I dread to think what would have happened.

As far as the referee is concerned, I think the fairest summary would be to say that he didn’t cope very well with an impossible situation. During the second half and extra time he should probably have abandoned the game, but what the consequences might have been don’t bear thinking about. Only the referee can confirm whether this was the case, but I truly believe that this game should not have been completed.

After the game I spoke at length to the referee, as well as to Robert Baxter, and thanked them both for their efforts. I hope that Mr Gunnell will also send in a full report, though Mr Baxter suggested he hadn’t seen enough of the game to comment, though if asked I’m sure he would make a report on what he did see. For the record, one Camdenian player was dismissed, and no player from UCL Academicals was even cautioned.

I should also like to note that as far as I am aware, this behaviour is not typical of Old Camdenians as a club. We have already played their 3rd XI three times this season (once in a pre-season friendly, twice in league matches) and all games have been “typical AFA” games without incident. I understand from comments on Saturday however that their 4th XI is a “club within a club” and indeed they claimed to us that they are actually stronger than their 2nd and 3rd XI’s, but the club “won’t let them move up”.

Nevertheless, they are a team fielded by Old Camdenians, and the club should be held responsible for their behaviour. This behaviour has no place on any football pitch, let alone an AFA pitch, and is not what we expect from our Saturdays.

In conclusion, I am writing to draw to your attention to what I feel to be unacceptable behaviour from the Old Camdenians IV team in an AFA cup tie.

In particular I refer to the aggressive and threatening behaviour of the Camdenians players (which includes a threat of personal violence to me), plus the clear and unacceptable racial abuse from the Camdenians players and the encroachment or invasion onto the pitch by Camdenians supporters.

Overall we were most unhappy with the general unpleasant, threatening, intimidating and aggressive behaviour of the team and their supporters.

I would welcome your comments and advice on what action you may be contemplating to deal with this matter.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Danny McConnell (Hon. Sec. and Chairman, UCL Academicals F.C.).