My club’s birth­day thanks to the Her­ald

Cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions had to quickly be brought for­ward after news­pa­per files re­vealed eight sea­sons we never knew we had

Egham News - - NEWS -

Chris Gay has been sec­re­tary of Chert­sey Town FC for four decades. Here, in this fi­nal edi­tion, he ex­plains how the Her­ald & News helped to un­cover the story of the birth of his beloved

foot­ball club

I ONCE delved into the Her­ald’s back num­bers and soon the re­al­i­sa­tion dawned on me that the birth of the club was 1890 and not, as had been pre­vi­ously thought, 1898.

This rev­e­la­tion came in 1989, just a year be­fore the club’s cen­te­nary.

The news­pa­per, there­fore, was in­stru­men­tal in re­veal­ing the true age of Chert­sey Foot­ball Club.

The ar­chives, in the late 1980s, were kept un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously in a cup­board at the East­worth Road of­fice.

They were in a poor con­di­tion but now fac­sim­ile copies can be ex­plored at the Sur­rey His­tory Cen­tre in Wok­ing.

We, there­fore, owe a debt to the Her­ald in dis­cov­er­ing that our birth date was wrong by as much as eight years.

Its ar­ti­cles and the county FA’s own limited records per­suaded our foot­balling con­trollers to ac­cept our true pedi­gree.

This gave just enough time to squeeze in cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions, in­clud­ing a top-notch din­ner dance at the Run­nymede Ho­tel, at­tended by dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing the mayor.

In scan­ning those past edi­tions, it is blind­ingly ob­vi­ous how the style of re­port­ing has evolved.

Nowa­days, un­der the cur­rent sports ed­i­tor­ship of Clive Youl­ton, we have lively, pun-led head­lines.

I know he loved it when Spencer Day was in charge, as his name was a gift for ir­rev­er­ent word play. I’m keep­ing my head down at this point!

What a dif­fer­ence then, to the ap­proach in late Vic­to­rian times when, for in­stance, a re­port said that ‘home­sters’ Lale­ham en­ter­tained a Chert­sey side and not only won the toss but also the match, 8-1, de­spite the con­sid­er­able ef­forts of the vis­i­tors’ goal­keeper.

He was de­scribed as ‘small for the place’ but ‘saved his side from what would oth­er­wise have been a more se­vere de­feat.’

The half-backs (to­day’s mid­field) were chiefly to blame, it was said. Although live­lier than this, when I be­came in­volved at first hand in writ­ing match re­ports in 1974, pre­sen­ta­tion was still some­what pro­saic and fac­tual.

I was re­quired to put pen to pa­per on an of­fi­cial Sur­rey Her­ald form, then post it in my lo­cal let­ter­box, hop­ing it would ar­rive in time for the Tues­day dead­line. It usu­ally did, but not al­ways.

The com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­came slicker over time which, I sup­pose, is the dou­ble-edged sword that has done for lo­cal news­pa­pers across the land.

Elec­tronic mes­sag­ing has made the task of fil­ing re­ports and news much eas­ier but sadly, it has also di­min­ished the need for the printed word.

Such a sys­tem may have lasted for cen­turies but, as now demon­strated, no form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion can be said to be writ­ten in tablets of stone.

The his­tory man: Chert­sey FC stal­wart Chris Gay, who saw his first match in

1959, has been club sec­re­tary since 1974.

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