London Calling: October

Big Ben
A bunch of Cockneys ended United's unbeaten run...
The Southern games keep coming and the London Branch is more active than ever. After the success of sponsoring the first game of the season we were able to arrange watching the Burton game on the big screen in the Sports Café in Piccadilly, right in the heart of London. Nearly 30 people turned up for the event that included a meal as well as a few pints and competitions with some amazing prizes. A good day was had by all – shame about the game…

Good London Branch turnouts at Woking, Aldershot and Exeter (where we teamed up with Exeter’s London Branch to watch the England game after the main event) saw United extend their unbeaten run in the South. Unfortunately I had to miss the Aldershot match as I was running in the Great North Run up in Newcastle, but I did wear my Carlisle shirt and got a few shouts of encouragement as I went round.

The next few weeks will see us visit Gravesend and York. York may not seem like a particularly Southern venue but the London Branch’s membership secretary, Bob Brookes, lives there and always manages to arrange a good weekend of entertainment, so we’ll be sure of a good turn out.

Gravesend, bizarrely, do not play at Gravesend, they play at Northfleet, so don’t make the mistake that Barrow made when they first played there and get off the train at Gravesend. I had gone to the game with a few mates from Barrow and we found the entire Barrow team wandering around the streets of Gravesend completely bemused and had to get them into taxis to get them to the ground. The game kicked off late and Barrow got stuffed.

So, United’s unbeaten run has come to an end – and at the hands of opposition from London at that – this is when we regret living in the South. Still, if we were going to lose to anyone it was likely to be the one team above us. Getting the second best crowd in the Conference (ever) is an achievement to be proud of, especially as the end of the season is so far away. Expect the records to tumble as we approach our run in.

The London Branch is now officially 30 years old. Our first meeting was held in the Finborough Arms in Chelsea (now a trendy bar with a theatre in the room in which we first met) and all came about because Mike Houghton from Whitehaven was living in a flat with three Geordies and couldn’t stand them going on about Newcastle all the time. They were all members of the Newcastle London Branch and he decided that if they can do it so can we. He put an advert in the Tottenham v Carlisle programme and over 50 people answered and came along to that first meeting in October 1974. We are now trying to locate as many of those first members as possible to include them in our 30th Anniversary celebrations. So if any of you are reading this or if you know anyone who claims to have been a London Branch member at the start then please e-mail me at the address below – we look forward to hearing from you.

All the best

Malcolm Fawcett