Littleport Town Football Club – History at first-hand!

Bev Scott shares his memories…

There is nothing older footballers like more than reminiscing. Especially when browsing battered old footie photo-filled scrapbooks littered with unflattering pictures, where shorts looked ridiculously short, and football boots were plain, practical, considered suitable for purpose, and boring by today’s standards. Unless you wore those awful all white Alan Ball boots just to be different like me! Writes Cathy Gibb-de Swarte.

With an age gap of 6 years between us, both Bev Scott and myself have great memories of our non-league footballing days, and the great camaraderie we shared when organising a reciprocal trip abroad for our respective clubs with a Dutch or Swiss side, which turned out to be the highlight of our playing days.

On September 8th 1991, Littleport Town Colts Under 11’s, founded by Bev Scott, played their first match at Camping Close. Littleport faced Priory Parkside, and they may have lost 7-1, but according to boss Bev; “The players were making their debut having never played a game before, but we got revenge in the away fixture beating them 5-1 in the second half of the season. This team learnt as we went along the way, despite losing friendlies 12-0 and 5-0 respectively”.

Bev showed me a hand-written report of that match against Priory Parkside in 1991, and as he writes:

‘… As far as I know this is the first ever Under 11 team to represent the village. Apart from school teams in past years. The kids have had to go to places like Ely or Little Downham to get any football matches and training. It’s about time we have a youngsters’ team in Littleport…’

‘I think it would be wrong of us to expect too much from the lads, until last week’s pre-season friendlies none of the boys had ever played in a competitive football match. We lost 12-0 to Bottisham who had played together since they were under 9’s, and to be fair to the boys they were very nervous. They kept trying throughout the match and received some generous comments from the opposition’s Manager. We gave several goals away and we know they just didn’t know how competitive you have to be to win a football match. At Cambridge Crusaders on Sunday, we went down 5-0… In the first half we played very well, and were unlucky to go in at half time two down. A special word of praise for goalkeeper Dean Grindling who improved 100% from the first game. Hopefully we score a few and beat Chatteris in another pre-season friendly at Highfield on Thursday evening.’

‘The signs are good for the future both on and off the field, and I’m sure after a few more matches under our belts we will be a team to admire. We have a smashing bunch of lads. Paul Smith and myself manage the team and we have great confidence in the lads. We are sure that we can have a sporting, confident, disciplined and enthusiastic team to represent Littleport.’

‘When we talked about starting the team at Under 11 age, we never envisaged such a response from boys in the 6 to 9 years age group. We do coach and train about 35 boys at Under 9 level on Tuesday nights. The chief trainer being Icky Lee. Next season we would like to enter them into an Under 10 league. For that, we would need funds for football fees, kits etc…’

‘As I said earlier a little help from our friends. Well the response to help since we started has been fantastic. I’d like to put you in the picture as to whose helped and who does what and to take this opportunity to thank them all. Chairman, John Crane, Vice/Chairman/Co Manager Bev Scott, Co Manager Paul Smith, Secretary Mrs Susan Porter, Treasurer Mrs Susan Porter.’

‘Committee Members: Carol Harvey, John Gayfer, Kathy Follen, Michael Lee, Andrew Hawes, Barbara Hunt, Alan Baxter, Lenny Lendrem, Mrs Edwards, L.T.F.C. Representative M. Galley and C. Clark. Coaches that help – Terry Stone, Alan White, M. Brown.’

‘If it was not for our sponsors and help with funds we would not have been able to form a club. So a big thank you to our kit sponsors – Littleport Rotary club, A C Welding (2nd set off shirts) The Parish Council (Goal nets), Glenton Thornhill and W H Cox (A.Binks), plus Perry Sharman (all footballs), Port ’84 (facilities for today’s match), and Littleport Town FC, and in particular Mick Willet, Freddie Newell and Peter Allen.’

‘The important people, the squad for today’s game. Dean Grindling (Deano), Richard Porter (Ritchie), Adam Scott (captain – Half Pint), Nikki Cornwall (Flicker), Garry Hunt (Gazza), John (Boy) Harvey, Jamie Gayer (young John, if he tackles like Dad, Cruncher) Joe Walker (Skywalker), Sean Gallery (Young Fred), Sean Mitchell (Mitch), Mark Piggott (Piglet), Tom (Pull Your) Legge, Sean Thornhill (Bread), Michael Doswell (Dossy), Johnathan Kitchen, Simon Law (LA) and Dean Scott, Paul McFarthing, Dean Markwell, William Kerridge and Johnathan Dunleavey.’

‘This afternoon we welcome our visitors from St Neots Priory Parkside and wish them luck for the coming season.’

‘After today’s game our home ground will be the Primary School. Our home games will be afternoon kick offs. Please come along and support the lads… and tea and refreshments available.’

‘Thanking you for your support.’

‘P.S. Colts 4 Chatteris 0 (Scorers: Mitchell 1, Piggot 2, Legge 1.’

‘Having lost this game 1-7, in the second half of the season we beat them 5-1 at their place.’

Wrote Bev all those 26 years ago.

He also remembers being a 14 year-old, having played 5 games for Littleport Town Youths (Under 18’s) and Littleport Town Reserves, only for his playing career to finish at just 20 years of age after a serious knee injury. He then became a groundsman at Highfield, for a season, and then was appointed to the committee and was even paid the grand sum of £22 for the whole season.

In the 1981/82 season Bev was Manager of the First Team playing in the top County league, where they finished 5th for two consecutive seasons. There were some very good players who could have advanced further by playing a much higher standard of football. The main top County players who really stood out from all the rest was former Littleport player and Manager, Norman South’s son, David, and their leading Premier goal scorer, Brian Goodge.

“I really believe that if we had had a more experienced Manager than myself we could have won the league and repeated the success of our ex-pro Manager Jock Findlay who won the league with Littleport in 1964”, Bev stated.

Bev teamed up with John Crane to form Littleport Colts, plus the Under 9’s and Under 11’s sides. Iky and Pop Lee managed the younger ones, while Paul Smith and Bev ran the Under 11’s. The Littleport Rotary Club sponsored the kit, and Bev was back on the committee, plus the relentless work put in by both Mick Willett and Peter Allen, the Colts became a part of Littleport Town FC.

In 1994, The Colts 1st Team played their home games at the then new Sports Centre winning the Highfield Cup 5-3 over Comberton. The trophy was presented to captain Adam Scott by John Martin, the owner of Highfield.

Bev moved on from The Colts to become Secretary of Littleport Town FC for a few seasons with Manager Gary Chilvers managing the side in the mid 90’s and promotion. Then Littleport brought in Nigel Dyer, who once managed Newport County. A hands on boss who would do everything from cutting the grass, marking out the pitch – and even put £50 in the kitty when there was an after match drinks get together. According to Bev Scott the Manager wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and was in fact quite a disciplinarian, and by all accounts wasn’t popular with the players. He was Manager for 10 years, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I will always treasure the great times we spent together at this club and some of the players from 1964 are still around like Jeff Constable and Norman South. Norman we used to call “Twink” was never the same player again when he badly broke his leg playing for Ely before joining Littleport and then became our Manager.

“Our 1981/1982 team were a damn good team and we had some great characters too. Brian Goodge was our leading goal scorer in the Premier League, and Dougie Tate was a legend but better known as our hatchet man! He was likened to Norman ‘Bite Your Legs’ Hunter of Leeds United. Terry Stone, Gary Chilvers, Gary Scott, Ronnie Francis, outstanding goalkeeper, Bruce Butcher, and star man cum postman David South (Norman’s son).

I was there for 20 months and quit because I felt my players weren’t giving 100%. We had finished 5th in consecutive years, and I felt we could have done better.

Our best two players David South and Brian Goodge went on to play for Ely City and I didn’t go anywhere. I just turned up and watched Littleport play.

Littleport can be proud of our 1964 team who won the top Premier league under the managership of former professional Jock Findlay who recruited some superb ex-professionals and an ex-Chelsea goalkeeper Barry Smart, plus we got bumper crowds.”

Bev told me that he had been City of Ely Tennis Champion at 14, plus a Junior Champion, as well as taking part in motor cross and motor biking and enjoying scrambles following in his parents footsteps. Mum Maureen was Secretary of the Motor Cycle Club at Littleport for 20 years, and Dad Aubrey, who was a motor mechanic, often marshalled many a scramble event.

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