Groundhop 1881 – Old Carthusians FC

Arthurian League, Premier Division
Old Carthusians FC v Old Etonians FC
Sunday, 6th October 2012, 12pm (midday)
Athletics Track Pitch, Northbrook, Charterhouse
Entrance free, No Programme
Distance 44 miles, Attendance 9

121006 AL Old Carthusians v Old Etonians (186)w

Leaving the last of the team in the Peter May Pavilion I took one final, contented look at the impressive view before me. It had taken nine months of careful planning to get to this point but, clearly nothing could have prepared me for this day in the sun.
Of all the clubs on my 1881 hop list, Old Carthusians was the one I initially felt would provide the greatest challenge. Despite reading their name hundreds of times in Cup Final programmes, I truly had no idea they still played, and even less that they were on my doorstep.
Growing up Charterhouse had been little more than a name that – like Eton and Harrow – occasionally popped up in period dramas. Of course it didn’t take a genius to appreciate its educational qualities but, knowing the school had a team with a completely different name – woven into the football’s foundations – which still play in their traditional colours in the most stunning of environs…
121006 AL Old Carthusians v Old Etonians (216)wReports suggest the beautiful game was first played at the school twenty-odd years prior to the establishment of the Old Carthusians. They would become one of the Football Association’s founding clubs, and provide many international players of the era but sadly, Old Carthusians are no longer part of the footballing elite, nor even part of the footballing pyramid; they did however win the 1881 FA Cup Final, placing a school steeped in history in a position still envied by players the world over.
As the players donned match shirts and posed for my team photo before Founder’s Court, the immense pride in both the team and their heritage started to become apparent.
121006 AL Old Carthusians v Old Etonians (18)wAn hour later the game was in full swing. Just like the 1881 Cup Final, Old Carthusians were taking on Old Etonians. The visitors were “big and strong” according Henry Nash’s father; one of a handful of parents and schoolmasters who had interrupted their late summer’s morning to watch the old boys. Also in the sparse crowd was Master of Football – and former Non-League player – Malcolm Bailey who along with his son Matt had been my point of contact leading up to the day.
Earlier I’d observed as captain, Matt Bailey gave an impassioned team talk but, within minutes of the start brute strength, and a rouge high ball, led to confusion in their penalty area; the resulting strike gave a fortunate Old Etonians the lead.
What the home team lacked in the “big and strong” department, they more than made up for in skilful ball-playing. Twenty minutes in, after having the majority of the possession, they were deservedly level when Paddy Millington Buck wriggled through a crowd and shot low to the left of the keeper.

121006 AL Old Carthusians v Old Etonians (68)      121006 AL Old Carthusians v Old Etonians (103)

It wasn’t all one-way traffic but, going in comfortably 3-1 up at the break, the OCs had clearly found their stride. Ant Beddows had hit the mark twice; the first slotting home from James Walker’s cross, the second from the penalty spot. After the break only Beddows would add to their tally – matching the goal difference of The Cup Final – but the qualities of the team did not go unnoticed. For an amateur side they are quite exceptional.
Malcolm had hinted at the “scientific approach” taken to coaching the boys at the school, but he had failed to mention the incredible sportsmanship that has long been associated with Corinthian spirit. It was also the same indomitable character that seeps from the pages of his tome “From Cloister to Cup Finals”.
Naming individuals players would be wrong; this was a wonderful team performance both on and off the pitch. I’d arrived as an outsider but had been welcomed openly to their school and left feeling the warmth of a historic football family. “Aequitas super omnia” indeed.

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Initially appearing in this season’s Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently Groundhop 1881 reports will appear late on here. At the end of the journey, a book will be published telling the full story.
This entry was posted in 2012-2013, Arthurian League, Groundhop 1881 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Groundhop 1881 – Old Carthusians FC

  1. Fat Bob says:

    As a distinguished (really?) Arthurian League vice-president and former chairman of another member club I’ve watched the OCs first team three times recently and was impressed by
    the speed of thought and passing, clinical finishing, and outstanding sportsmanship. I’ve heard it said it’s not hard to be good sports if you’re winning nearly every game. Doesn’t always follow: remember the very nice well behaved Leeds team of the 1970’s?

    In 2011 I saw the OCs take apart the muscular Old Etonians 8-2 on a bright autumn afternoon at Agar’s Plough. It could have been 16-2. The school continues to produce fast skilful teams who lose very rarely: it’s a mystery they don’t win the Boodles Cup every year, ditto the old boys first team with the Arthur Dunn Cup. The OCs second and third teams are miles superior to any other equivalents in the League and would probably finish runners up in the Premier Div. if allowed to compete at that level. Well done OCs who have set the bar to a height every other independent school old boys team should aspire to.

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