Perhaps not what you expected, but we all had our limerences when we were teenagers I suppose. I had a good friend at grammar school, it was a girls only school, but she was a keen football supporter and like her father was a fan of Leyton Orient football club. My dad was a West Ham United supporter and so that was my team. We discovered a link somewhere and today, about 60 years later, we are still good friends. She is the godmother to my No. 2 son and on my visits to London to my dad, I was always sure of a bed at her house
But I am drifting. We were both football supporters, In my classroom at school I had a photo of West Ham United on our notice board. The teachers did give it a strange blink now and again, but I think they secretly got to like those sexy legs and muscular men.
My friend and I were both East London cockney girls and lived near to each other. What did we do on Saturday afternoons? We visited our football teams for the match. As West Ham and Leyton Orient were both neighbourhood teams they did not coincide with home games. so we would alternate by visiting the match at West Ham on one Saturday and the following Saturday we were to be found at Leyton.
Of course we had our heroes. I had a soft spot for the goalie, Noel Dwyer. Unfortunately he is not on the photo, but Ernie Gregory the reserve goalkeeper. My friend was all for Ken Facey, the half back captain of Leyton Orient. We would collect newspaper cuttings of the matches held and of various articles about the players. We both had quite a collection of scrapbooks from the years that we were ardent supporters – the early sixties I would say. It is so long ago.
Football has a season and is only played in the Winter months, so what do you do when your heroes are not playing. You look forward to the season beginning and go on an excursion to the football ground. At Leyton Orient they would have training sessions of the players during our school holidays and so we travelled by underground to the stadium to see if anything was happening and it was. Our heroes were training at the ground and when they were finished they would leave the ground and my friend and I and a few schoolboy supporters would be waiting outside with our autograph books ready.
The West Ham club owned houses where most of the players lived, in a place called Barkingside, a nicer country part of Essex. I remember we made an excursion there to see if we were lucky, but Barkingside is big and everywhere there are houses, so we had no real success.
And here is a photo of the Leyton Orient team wearing the hats sent by Pat Boone. My friend and I would always stand in front of the stand where the directors and other team players would sit when watching the game. One of the directors was an impresario and his job was managing various show stars. Often one would be sitting in the stadium behind us. I remember seeing Cliff Richards, he was then a young man, and Pat Boone on a trip to England.
Of course we both had our colourful scarves to wear at the match. Leyton Orient was blue and white and West Ham claret and blue. If only I still had these autograph books and scrap books, but when I left for Switzerland my mum and dad moved from their East London Bethnal Green slum and everything no longer needed was left in the house which was afterwards demolished.
Of course there was nothing sexual about all of this, we were then about 12-15 years old and had no time, there were exams to study for at school, but a little football in our spare time accompanied by hero worshipping made a pleasant change.