2001:Rupert Brooke, Monet and PC 4328

Saturday 20th January 2001

One of the easier away trips today. We picked up the car from having its MOT and left at 11. We took our time getting to the Pink and Lily for 12 opening time. Sat in the Rupert Brooke room and had one of those grim puff pastry pies with mashed potato. The pub doesn’t do chips! The beer was good but overall the pub was a bit disappointing given its reputation. We were at the ground for 2 and parked up on their massive car park. We lost 1-0 and the game was a bit dull (2 out of 5). Worst of all was that Jamie Cureton scored for them. We were home to the Albert for 7.30 and we ordered a take away from the Chinese at Stantonbury before we walked home.

Fiona compiled her favourite top ten Rovers players. My top ten is obviously different because we only included players we have watched. Favourite doesn’t necessarily mean the best.


Fiona Rovers XI 4-4-2

 Brian Parkin

Trevor Challis Andy Tillson Steve Yates David Pritchard

Ian Holloway Vitalis Astajevs Justin Skinner Tony Pounder

Marcus Stewart Nathan Ellington


Billy Clark Gary Penrice John Taylor

My Rovers XI 4-4-2

 Nigel Martin

Ian Alexander Stuart Taylor Gary Mabbutt Vaughan Jones

Harold Jarman David Williams Wayne Jones Kenny Stephens

Alan Warboys Marcus Stewart


Steve Yates Ian Holloway Bruce Bannister

2001 was a year when we decided that we no longer needed a large house in Milton Keynes and we could follow the jobs to wherever and whenever. I had already gone to teach in Luton and Fiona was to apply for and get a job in St Albans. At first the move brought with it some complicated transport decisions. We started running two cars separately and on football days I would drive her to work and pick her up en route to the evening game. Then we did a commuter train split. I would drop her off at Harlington Station to get the train on to St Albans and walk the final half mile to work The problem with this was the pick-up in the dark, and frankly miserable, car park at the station on the way home when my time of leaving school was so unpredictable, Eventually there was only one sensible solution and that was to move to St Albans. It may have been sensible but ultimately it was a pretty bad decision to uproot and move to what was an alien and totally contrasting life style in that dreadful commuter town.

The summer holiday was at home and a return to Paris in August. One of the days we tried to recreate the Monet picnic on the Seine. Right location, different time of year, but this was the result.


Monet’s version




Our reconstruction


The Pink and Lily was one of many country pubs that we dropped in to on the way to or from the south of the county. It was a classic “one for your mother in law” pub because it had a good location, interesting history and a good garden. It was definitely not my type of pub, then or now. It had an unwelcome aroma of cooking food as you walked over the threshold. This was usually, no doubt well cooked, fish. We would end up in the garden because most tables would have reservations for Jessica and Oliver types to take their late lunch and talk loudly about the quality of their morning hack. The beers would be standard real ales, often something from Marston’s or the all too available Courage Directors (The Doom Bar of the 90s). It was later to become more of a regular pub for me as our local Bird in Hand Cribbage team would play there at least once a year, the game being given the privilege of free run of the back room. The Rupert Brooke connection is all very interesting and the pub did it well but most pubs in this part of the Chilterns has celebrity punters. I can’t see the Bird in Hand having a Jamiroquai room anytime soon or the Plough in nearby Cadsden having a Cameron child friendly play room.

The Reading experience was all very new and different. We had good experiences when it first opened with a 6-0 thrashing of the Royals being high on the list of memorable games. The old Elm Park ground had very different thoughts to recall. In 1994 we had a long drawn out conversation with the Police Complaints authority over a charge by the Met Police down the terrace that was totally out of control and dangerous.


This was our reply from the Superintendant Hanks Next up the command chain was a Chief Superintendent Howlett – Bolton. A quick look at his profile on the internet reveals his classic appointment as the Assistant Grand Master of Berkshire Freemasons. No real surprise then that we were fobbed off by this one then. PC 4328 has no doubt had a long career following orders with his camera and aggressive manner.

Overzealous policing of football matches is thankfully less common nowadays but there is still plenty of examples of visiting police units drawn from outside  the local area justifying their expenses claims by going native. In this case the result was a “no case to answer” apology and support for the valiant chaps in riot gear and their camera and baton wielding thugs. These events have, over the years eroded my initially unshakeable belief that the Police were basically good guys. Now I have an innate mistrust of their motives and tactics when Football matches are in their charge. I go to games armed with my list of questions for every policeman who might decide to give me a hard time.

The basic kit is:-

  1. Name and number of policeman I am talking with.
  2. Name of commanding officer of the day and his / her location at the time of conversation.
  3. Basis for conversation.
  4. Agreed notes of conversation to be made. Ask for permission for another to make notes.
  5. Agree whether photos are being taken. Offer copies to police for evidence should they be needed.
  6. If head camera being used ask for reference to gain access at a later date.
  7. Take notes / photos.

The compilation of top ten favourite teams are ones of nuance. Only last week we were doing something similar for Rovers best wingers this top 10 popped out

  • Harold Jarman
  • Muzzy Carayol
  • Kenny Stephens
  • Colin Dobson
  • Phil Purnell
  • Micky Barrett
  • Ray Graydon
  • Stewart Barrowclough
  • Mark Walters
  • Josh Low

My Best Rovers XI as of 7. 1 2017 (4-3-3) was:-

Nigel Martin

Phil Roberts Stuart Taylor Gary Mabbutt Vaughan Jones

Vitalis Astafjevs Frankie Prince David Williams

Nathan Ellington Rickie Lambert Marcus Stewart


Steve Yates Wayne Jones Bruce Bannister

 I might do the team again tomorrow and come up with a totally different eleven. This one was dependent on playing in a 4-3-3 system so Frankie Prince had to play to allow for David Williams and Vitalis to do their thing. Drop Frankie and play 4-4-2 and in comes Wayne Jones and a luxury wide player like Harold for Nathan Ellington.


1996       Carlisle H 1-1

2001       Reading A 0-1

2007       Chester H 0-0

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