1997: Top Tens, three a side and taking up smoking


Friday 12th December 1997

Everything was very rushed today and not too good for our nerves. Fiona was on a Technology course at Westminster College in Oxford. It was something to do with teaching kids to lay bricks and do the Maths of as building site. I quite like  the roll of Fridays in Wendover House. Once the boys had gone home I was free to get away earlier than normal and as usual, pick up Fiona at Peartree roundabout. I had to miss the Friday night three a side session but no doubt they will have coped without me filling their space. Because we were so early we could get a pint in the Full Moon. We had enough time to compile a few lists as is appropriate at this time of the year. Pub of the year went to the Burton Bridge in Burton on Trent. Hotel of the year went to the Henbury Lodge in Bristol.

The match.

Wheels coming off this season? After the disaster of Wigan  we needed a good performance. We left feeling like we had played really well but were stuffed 4-0. Four nil at home on a Friday night. Man of the match tonight, No one. It was a long and fairly quiet drive home. Back by 12, Coffee and Brandy before bed.

To add to this diary.

Fiona and courses.

She was a bit of a course phobic at this stage of her career. As a leading Maths teacher in Milton Keynes she was really a bit of an old hand and understandably quite intolerant of those in education who sought to teach others to suck eggs. Laying bricks became a course of Stedman household legend. She decided to put her practical skills to work in the school a few months later. If you go to St Thomas Aquinas R.C. school in Bletchley today you will be able to see her wall, all of two courses high and about ten yards long. Not even big enough for a plaque to say she built it. It was, however, just about big enough to trip up any six foot five husband walking across the playground towards her class room though.

Fridays at Wendover House School.

The borders at the school were weekly attendees and after lunch time the taxis came to collect them to take to their homes which were all over Buckinghamshire. Should they need some extra time in school, i.e. to catch up on lessons lost due to poor behaviour, then Friday would be the best time to offer this sanction. Imagine the inventive boy who really doesn’t want to go home at the weekend. What is the best way to get some more time at school?  Kick off on Friday morning and see what happens. We teachers will do almost anything to get those kids into a taxi and home. Some pupils will do almost anything not to go home. For some the school was safe and secure and predictable. That, alas, couldn’t always be said about their home. The care staff were absolutely brilliant at this time and by two o’clock we were generally free for a series of team meetings and planning sessions. By three thirty we were then ready for a game of kick-ass three aside football in the gym. Just staff, just three a side, as the room was an old school, wall bar and squeaky floor, gym. The others were,  to a man, fitness freaks. It was a great way to let off steam and wind down for the weekend. The trick to winning at three a side? Make sure Floyd Streete was on your side.

The pubs of Twerton C 1997

 We really only used three of the pubs.


The Full Moon today

Near the church and where we parked the car, this was usually our pub of choice. Now it looks quite smart but back in 1997 it was a bit of a rough old place. They had two rooms and it was best to get in the lounge bar rather than the spit and sawdust main bar. That room had the pool table and on match days was really for standing space only. You didn’t go there for the beer so usually it was a pre-match Guinness or cider.


Old Crown today

This was the lad’s pub. It had, and still has two small bars with low ceilings and a cramped feel that some would call cosy. We would generally get their before the hordes because after 12 it would be rammed and loud. Again, best to stick to the cider.

 The Golden Fleece

Just a bit further away and the choice if bringing away fans with you. Friendly before 1, but a bit loud on big match days. It was possible to get a pint of something real but you wouldn’t go there out of choice when visiting Bath for a weekend.

Our top ten lists compiled that evening in the Full Moon

Pubs of the year top ten as voted for in pub that evening.

  1. Burton Bridge Inn Burton 
  2. Coopers Tavern Burton
  3. Pump and Truncheon Blackpool
  4. Coronation Tap Bristol
  5. Three Crowns Nantwich
  6. Sippers Lincoln
  7. Wellington Bristol
  8. Anchor Oldbury
  9. Escort Watford
  10. Pink and Lily Princes Risborough

The Burton Bridge was part of a weekend away at Crewe. Our route was somewhat circuitous. We had a lunchtime walk along the river Trent, and a beer in Coopers Tavern and the Burton Bridge. Then on to Stone in Staffordshire and booked into the Stone House Hotel. On the Saturday we went via Nantwich, to the Britannia and the Three Crowns before getting to watch Rovers lose at Gresty Road.

We didn’t have a holiday away this year. MIL joined us for trips to Bristol and York in the summer. The Henbury Lodge was chosen because of its location as much as the size / comfort of the hotel. The Empress would come bottom of any list in any year. As you can see from our photo it was in the middle of some refurbishment.


 Empress Hotel and our old Red Primera

Away hotels of the year.

  1. Henbury Lodge, Bristol
  2. Alhambra Court. York
  3. Grand. Lincoln
  4. Aztec. Bristol
  5. Stone House Hotel, Stone
  6. Compass Inn, Tormarton
  7. Sodbury House Hotel, Old Sodbury
  8. Empress Hotel, Blackpool

The Football. Rovers 0 Grimsby 4


Team Collett, Pritchard, Basford, Penrice, White, Tillson, Low, Hayfield, Beadle, Lockwood, Hayles. Subs Alsop, Holloway, Cureton,

The wheels were indeed coming off and this wasn’t helped by the performance at Wigan in the last league game before this one. Rovers lost that game and had Tillson, Perry, Pritchard and Low sent off. It was nearly a full set where the game would be abandoned. We were there watching on a frozen terrace at Springfield Park. It was one of those games that make you want to watch every game, just to say I was there. I wish however that could be said of the game at home that followed.


The most common entries in my diary were as follows

54 Rovers games –

5 games watching Hereford with Clarkie:-

They were:-

  • Cambridge 0 Hereford 1
  • Hereford V Cardiff City 1-1
  • Rushden 1 Hereford 0
  • Hereford V Brighton 1-2
  • Hereford V Darlington 

One trip to Wembley

Northampton 1 Swansea 0. Now you know how I hate Northampton but I went and supported them as most of the pub wanted to go on a minibus trip.

One NUT Course at Stoke Rochford.

12th – 14th  November. I was refreshing my Health and Safety Rep qualifications with a few days residential. It is memorable to me for something of which I am very much not proud. I was bored silly in the evenings without Fiona. There is only so much swimming I could do and the people were, as Health and Safety Reps are expected to be, somewhat dull. In between seminars on the differences between should, ought and shall, we had interminable free discussion sessions. The only vaguely interesting people abandoned their rooms to go for a cigarette, virtually behind the bike sheds. I didn’t smoke before this day but from this course onward, from Wednesday the 12th of November, aged 39 years and a bit, like a silly little teenager, in an effort to join in with the others, I became a casual smoker and later one somewhat more committed to the evil weed. There was no doubt a much deeper reason as to why I took up the uncool statement but at the time I was just a silly big boy.

Seven rounds of golf

I played with either Ray, Clive, or Clarkie. It is a significant indicator of how average I am at the game that I didn’t bother to record scores. I discarded the cards, keeping only one for each course as the best to beat. Looking back at them now I have no scores in the 90s as a best. I have three courses with bests in the 80s and many in the early hundreds. My best ever score was an 84 at the Three Locks in Stoke Hammond. The rounds were usually in the company of Ray. If his old mate Clive came to visit it would involve finding him a new course to play. Another factor in my unpredictable golf scores is that I rarely played the same course more than once a year and as a teacher the games were usually in winter half teams on winter greens. That sounds more feasible than me just admitting that when I lose my swing and interest on a golf course I became a borderline psychopath.

15 visits for Fiona to the Chiropractor for manipulation on her back.

8 visits for me to get Hepatitis jabs from Dr Zachariah.

They was needed for the job to have this injections so as to protect myself from biting teenagers.


Stedders at Blackpool away

On this day:-

1987       1sts Buckingham H W 40-13 1t 1c

1997       Grimsby H 0-4

1998       Manchester City A 0-0

2006       Bournemouth A 1-0

2009       Swindon H 3-0

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