Following on from the Liverpool FA Cup game, I found these notes written in my Worcester programme, which I thought might interest one or two supporters.
December 23rd 1970. Yeovil Town 2 v 0 Worcester City. (The game at which the tickets for the Arsenal cup-tie went on sale.)
It was a strange sight when Yeovil’s second goal went in on that frozen December night. 8101 hands shot in the air but 8101 hands remained firmly in their pockets clutching their Arsenal tickets. We were 2-0 up against Worcester and we started to believe we might catch Hereford at the top of the Southern League but in truth all our dreams were lost in the greater match to come.
All, except for the Sage. I remember the extraordinary sight of both his hands punching the air. My cheering stopped and I watched confused as he sat back down on the wooden steps of C block. I asked what all others wondered but would not dare. “Where’s your Arsenal ticket, Sage?”
“ I’ve better ways to bide my time than the FA cup,” the great man replied. All around us the gaunt faces of men who had queued for hours to win that prized possession, a ticket for the Arsenal game, looked up from their Oxo and listened, intrigued and strangely terrified.
It was going to be the greatest day of my Yeovil Town life, we’d talked about nothing else in the playground underneath the main stand. How Johnny Clancy would rip apart the mighty Arsenal defence on the top wing … and now … uncertainty was creeping in.
Thrashing around to fill the nervous silence I ventured, “ We’re giant killers. Jimmy Hill’s predicted we might win. It was on the Big Match.”
“Predictions!” The Sage took his pipe from his mouth and spat high into the Huish sky. “ We can be certain of nothing in this life, son. Who knows what the future might bring? Oh yes tomorrow it may rain, you may one day fall in love and if you’re lucky at dawn the sun may rise. You can predict it but you can’t be certain of nothing in this ever changing and mutable world, save one thing…” There was an eerie silence. “I cannot guarantee one thing, save that all of us who tread the earth will shed this mortal coil and die.”
A cloud swept across the still, full moon.
“Steady on Sage. That’s a bit bloody gloomy,” said a jocular fellow who cycled to every match from Odcombe.
The Sage's hackles rose. “ You want a prediction? Alright, I’ll grant you, for a moment, a football universe where we live to see next season. I’ll grant you that and I can predict you one certainty in that. Next season, like all others, the Glovers will be knocked out of the FA cup. We may win leagues. Chris Weller might get a hat trick. We may even sign Georgie Best. But you know as well as I, that next season when the final chords of Abide With Me die away they’ll be no team of green and white running out on that hallowed turf.”
I remember the awful sight of tears welling in the eyes of grown men. Sometimes the truth can be brutal.
“ No, I dream of grander and greater things. Away trips to Rochdale. Hartlepools United at home. Who knows maybe even a local derby with one of they fancy teams from Bristol. You can keep your FA cup. I’m talking about dreams to dream … the Football league. I’d never be as rash as to predict it but in my football universe I hold a tiny candle of hope to the wind that one day …” The Sage looked across the slope to where a frosty ring shimmered around the floodlights of the North Bank. “That one day … “ and he was lost… lost in a wonderful world of dreams that for one brief, shining moment I saw in his optimistic eyes.
More of the thoughts of Sage Seth - the Green and White Guru will be
revealed as the season progresses.