Chased by a knifeman? It was all in a day’s work
THESE days a job for life is a very rare exception – but I was fortunate to spend mine as a journalist on the Surrey Herald. It was as a very nervous teenage apprentice that I first set foot in the Herald head office (then in Windsor Street, Chertsey) on March 28 1966. I always wanted to be a sports writer but my first editor, the late great WG (Bob) Cherry, insisted that I do three years’ training as a general news reporter before I was allowed to specialise. It was the best grounding I could ever have been given as I learned how to spot, hunt out and write a good story. Mr Cherry was constantly supportive, apart from one occasion when I and a couple of fellow journalists were pictured with a banner proclaiming ‘ Surrey Herald NUJ chapel supports the miners’ at a rally held by the NUM leader Joe Gormley at an unlikely Weybridge venue. Those first three years were spent in our then Walton branch office in Bridge Street. My job was to cover the Sunbury and Shepperton patch and write about everything that happened in the area, including births, marriages, deaths, plus covering police, council and business. This was shortly after the days a reporter had to go to funerals and collect the names of all the mourners. I was expected, however, to attend all of the district’s annual fairs and flower shows and fill my notebook with a comprehensive list of results, before spending many a Sunday typing them up. Heaven defend any poor young junior who did not get the house style exactly right and, after a serious rollicking, had to type them all out again! Over the years, as newspaper production went from hot metal to new technology, I went from hammering two-fingered on a heavy old typewriter to tapping (still two-fingered), on a computer keyboard. Meanwhile, the advent of mobile phones saved a reporter out on an assignment from having to knock on someone’s door and ask to please use their phone to call the office. Among the memories were being the first reporter in an army Dukw (military vehicle) to reach the flooded heart of Molesey and on another occasion being chased down a Sunbury street by a man with a knife who did not want a story to go in the paper. It seems almost unbelievable now but in those days, before the loss of our Woking, Staines and Walton branch offices, the Herald & News had an editorial staff of 34 (editors, sub editors, reporters and photographers). Those first three years went very quickly and then I was allowed to write full time on sport. From the early days I recall, with great fondness, chronicling the FA Cup exploits of Allen Batsford’s Walton & Hersham, including the humbling of Brian Clough’s Brighton; and then their historic 1973 FA Amateur Cup Final victory over Slough Town at Wembley Stadium. In the 1990s, I became quite a regular at football’s national stadium, watching Geoff Chapple’s Woking claim the FA Trophy at Wembley a magnificent three times. However, it was
The way we were: John Whitbread, back centre in the glasses, as the newsroom bids farewell to chief reporter Cliff Mogg in 1972. Managing editor
WG Cherry, seated left, paid tribute.
Glory, glory Walton and Hersham: A section of the pull-out souvenir supplement in April 1973 as the team, captained by Dave Bassett, beat Slough Town 1-0 before a 41,000 crowd at Wembley to win the FA Amateur Cup thanks to a last-minute goal from
Cards sharp: Woking’s Tim Buzaglo and boss Geoff Chapple after the famous FA Cup win at West Brom in 1991.