On the road – and the rail – with the London Owls from the sixties to 2008 . . .
The official start date for the London Owls is 1974. However, the first coach trip to a home game was against Fulham two years earlier and there had been a group – John Townsend, Tony Sturgeon, Dave Cooke to name just three – making the regular train trip to Hillsborough from St Pancras in the sixties.
I (Colin Grant) came across this crew in 1969 and, in the early seventies the regulars on the 10am from London were myself, Dave Cooke, John Gosney and Ray Arthur. My brother Vernon, Jeremy Kerrich, Peter Hennessy and Andy Evzona all became regulars as the decade progressed, and people like Sean Byrne, Bob Currid, Richard Hillman, Jimmy Morton, Lawrence Bell and Clive Davey all joined the club for a beer or ten along the way.
The eighties saw the London Owls go upmarket with executive coach travel – complete with bar, food and the odd dodgy video on board – to many a game.
Ian Colley, Ron and Richard Shore, Peter and Martin Geeves, Mark Sanderson, the Gingell brothers, Dave Johnson, my son Christopher (complete with potty on early trips) and many more – along with most of those mentioned earlier – all enjoyed the life of luxury (despite Mr Kerrich’s dodgy cheap cans of lager that nobody had ever heard of).
And coach trips to see us win at venues like Old Trafford (twice), Anfield and Maine Road will live long in the memory . . . as will the five-a-side team getting to the APSCIL semi finals just hours after another all-day session at Sandown races!
Maggie’s clampdown on allowing alcohol on coaches saw the attraction of such travel lose its appeal and we were back on the trains by the nineties.
And before we knew it a young, fresh-faced and optimistic (yes, he was back then) Wednesdayite called Paul Woolfson arrived on the scene.
The highs of the early nineties became the nightmare of the year 2000 relegation but one thing remained consistent – the loyalty of the London Owls.
The work of people like Paul, Ian Colley and many more saw our club continue to flourish, with teams often faring well in the various London supporters’ clubs activities.
Paul also took the social events to another level with ex-players like David Hirst coming down to London for very special evenings.
The train gang of the 2000s sees regulars like Paul, Ian, Fred Rogers, Dave and Carolyn Crossland (now back up North!) Paul Hennessy, Richard Green and John Townsend (yes, the same Mr Townsend from the sixties) making the trip from St Pancras to Sheffield 6.
I’m proud to have been associated with the London Owls from the beginning – and even before that – and long may it continue.
We all have a great passion for watching a very special football club. Up the Owls!
To be continued . . . and please tell us your London Ows memories – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and, provided they are legal and decent, we’ll put them on the site.