Parklife revisited

Cod Almighty | Article

by None

3 June 2019

Last year, Ron Counte shared his memories of endless summer days on the Sussex Rec. It evoked some memories in you as well

The power of the red mist

Oh what memories has Ron Counte stirred?

I was brought up on the Grange estate, Grimsby, built after the second world war. Where we lived there were a host of semi-detached houses, each with a great big garden, but also the estate encircled the Spinney, a massive plot of land for the estate kids to play on. This was where my social conditioning in life really began.

We would play football for hours on end and then for something a bit different we would play kick-ball-fly, British bulldog, trackie. Oh and a bit of knock-door-run and garden creeping too.

These were quite magical days and our mothers would have to virtually drag us in at the end of the night. I particularly remember their collective voices piercing the dusky gloom for us to return home.

One night, I became witness to the power of the universe, in the form of a half-brick goalpost.

I had made a new friend and he was extremely, extremely competitive. We used to play football on the way to school with a tennis ball. The school gates were the goals and these games were fierce. Many a time we would be fighting it out to the finish while the rest of the school watched from their lessons, as we were still outside long after the bell had gone.

This particular night saw my regular group of friends joined by my new friend. We were playing 'world cup', a football knockout game where the remaining two players would battle out the final. Lo and behold, it was me and my new friend that made the final tie, with me in my West Ham top. I was very fortunate to own three football tops: a Grimsby top, a Man U top and a West Ham top. The funny thing was that I played out of my skin whenever I had the West Ham top on. It was the first to score three and I was on fire. The keeper was making some great saves from me, with my new friend not getting near me and he was quick.

And that's when it started. I was 2-0 up when the niggly fouls began. My new friend started to clip me from behind every time I took the ball around him as his competitive nature bubbled up until...


I had gone around him again and as I bore down on the keeper for the decisive goal, my new friend hideously chopped me from behind. What happened next was the red mist moment. My body was not my own. I remember looking at my new friend who saw something in my eyes and he began to run away very very quickly indeed. The next thing that I remember was the half-brick goalpost on its way to him via my hand, who by this time was a good 50 yards away and still running.

As quickly as it had enveloped me, the red mist now threw me out as I witnessed that half-brick travelling with a flat trajectory at warp speed to my new friend's head. The red mist had honed my senses and intention to perfection without any help from me. My other friends watched horrified as I screamed at the top of my voice a warning for my new friend to duck down as the guided missile neared its target, but instead of heeding my advice, he jumped up instead and...


The sickening sound of that brick hitting my now not-so-new friend's head and reverberating around the estate will live with me forever. But he was a tough cookie and he took it quite well under the circumstances, although I had to stand in front of a neighbour's window so that he didn't throw it back at me as I tried to explain to him that he caused it in the first place. Thankfully he only needed a few stitches inserting in it at hospital.

We are still friends today, but obviously not so close as we once were.

Out of curiosity, I have been back to the same spot as an adult where that event took place and I have lobbed a half-brick over and over again but I simply cannot get even half-distance as I did on that fateful night. So if this piece ever reaches the eyes of my once new friend: it wasn't me, honest.

Tony Barker

Two and you're through

My memories aren't of a park but a school playing field that we used to jump the fence to get onto.

The main game we played was 'two and you're through'. You picked a mate and played against other couples to score two goals against one keeper to get through to the next round. One couple each round would be knocked out until one team was victorious. The winner got to decide the next game, which would nearly always be another game of two and you're through.

Another game was 'free kick, penno, run-up': you had to try to score a free kick, a penalty and a run-up, a bit like a penalty shot in ice hockey.

Great times.

Andrew Weeks

Rugby posts for jumpers

I remember seemingly endless days of footy at Sidney Park but they are all a bit of a blur as we moved from Park View when I was about eight in the mid-1970s. It may not count as a park, but summer footy memories are clearer of playing on Whitgift school field. Back then they had rugby posts, the lower part of which were often utilised for football goals in the summer absence of the real thing, resulting in a massive goal totally un-defendable by a 12-year-old goalie without a massive slice of good fortune or alternatively ineptitude of a Jamille Matt-like level on the part of the attackers.

I also remember a number of us using the foam-backed mats used in the outdoor cricket nets to roll each other up, Cleopatra in the Carry On film style, and push the unfortunate inmate off the top of the hill that used to be by the sports hall. How mortal injury was avoided is a mystery, but vomit-inducing disorientation seemed to be the only damage.

We also lost a prized 1978 Adidas Tango ball to the 45 bus after a wayward shot.

Happy days.

Chris Beeley


Ron's evocative piece on memories of Sussex Rec in the late 1960s and early 1970s brought back similar ones of my own from just a few years later.

Losing a football to those dreaded spikes was a rite of passage. A glancing blow often led to panic, brief optimism and then deflation (literally) as a week's pocket money disappeared with a pitiful last exhalation.

Using the bowling green as a substitute for Wembley within minutes of the end of the cup final was an annual treat.

Lee Johnson

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