July 16, 2024, 9:29 a.m.

Neville has produced for his family, a number of reminiscences from his days with Hempnall FC, and he has kindly allowed us to use them for our history section.

Here are a number of his anecdotes, which include the escapades of some of the BRF.

One incident, when Hempnall were playing, many many years ago, at Mundham and Seething, starred Iky Youngs. The ball disappeared over a 3 foot high hedge which ran alongside the pitch. The sprightly Iky shouted "I'll get it" and vaulted the hedge perfectly, only to land in a duck pond the other side.
The mess and duck excrement was everywhere – Neville didn't say how Iky got home.......

During the early 70's, Neville's "partner in crime", the late, great, Jimmy Prior and Neville used to ferry the team about in their cars, an Austin Cambridge and a Ford Zephyr.

One Saturday, travelling to South Lopham for a game, Jim was following Neville who turned off the A140 at Scole – unfortunately, so did Jimmy, but he didn't notice the oncoming car which smashed into the side of him.

Suffice it to say, the team was late for the match!

Halfway through the second half, Billy Pike, playing in goal, called Neville over - "I can't move my leg, Nev (no subs in those days)". "Can you carry on?".

"I'll try", and he did.

After the game, they carried Billy to the dressing rooms, and then had to sit with his leg straight across the back seat of Neville's car. They managed to get him into his house thinking he would be "better tomorrow".

During the evening, Billy's wife, Sally, called Neville, "Billy's leg is bad, he needs to go to casualty" and off they went in Neville's car. Two hours later, they returned home, again with Billy's leg straight across the back seat, this time encased in plaster – he had broken his fibula!

What about the day in the mid seventies when they played at Scole?

Walking off the pitch after the match, Neville's son Harvey, then 10, was carrying the ball.

"Give me a header, Mr. Tweeddale" and threw the ball to Hughie, who promptly headed the ball beautifully back.........over Harvey's head and through the large pavilion window.

As we all know, a number of the old faithful players (Bernard "Iky" Youngs, Lawrence Chapman, Peter Downing, can we include Ray Youngman?, plus on the odd occasion, John Warne, Sam Page, Cliff Matthews and several others) plus Bob Norman, are cumulatively known as the BRF, the Bungay Road Faithful.

It's a bit like "grumpy old men" with attitude. Typical example, when Cliff was on the village hall committee.

One Saturday afternoon, a local "heavy metal" rock group were practicing in the village hall, and during the half time cup of tea, the BRF couldn't hear themselves talk. "Cliff, you are on the village hall committee, Can't you stop that noise?"

"No, I'm not on the committee now, I've resigned."


"Because I couldn't stand the noise in the hall"!

Neville thought even then about refereeing standards, and two referees who used common sense to avoid sendings off and defuse situations.

One was a referee named Mr. Seeley, a school master from Wymondham College. He was always firm but fair and made a great impression on the young Day. Treating the players properly by talking to them and administering both praise and punishment went down well, and he is remembered by Neville 50 years later.

Another was the infamous Alan Low, who referred well into his 60's. His favourite trick when there was a fracas was to walk slowly to the linesman, who invariably had no idea what was going on, but Mr. Low would converse with him at length, gesturing to various parts of the body, then striding back to the players announced "We couldn't decide who was to blame, but any more trouble and you are off".

The cooling down period used to work wonders.

Referees using common sense – now there's a thought!

It's not often that a Hempnall team has walked off the pitch, but it happened at Easton some years ago.

The "old contemporaries", as the team was called by the then Secretary, Freddie Brookes, were to play at Easton, but no referee turned up.

The home Captain said they had an old boy who would referee – he had done it before and "generally kept up with play". The "old" was no exaggeration, he was at least 70, wore a coat and cap that he kept on, and his "mobility" was to walk from one part of the centre circle to the other.

For the first 70 minutes, Hempnall just got on with the game, then disaster – Iky scored!

The next time Easton attacked, the old boy blew his whistle and awarded the home team a penalty.

Jimmy Prior vented his frustration as only Jimmy could, and Neville calmed him down. Easton scored to make it 1-1.

During their next attack – the exact same thing happened again – this time, Neville couldn't control the team and they walked off.

Three weeks later, Neville was in front of the Norfolk FA commission to explain the team's behaviour. Fortunately, they believed Neville.

February 1988 vs Norwich City Reserves in the semi-final of the Norfolk Senior Cup

From the souvenir programme of February 1988 when Hempnall played Norwich City Reserves in the semi-final of the Norfolk Senior Cup, at Bungay Road, Neville, who produced the programme, wrote this excellent article which gives a good understanding of what the Club was about. Neville served with the Club between 1952 and 1979, playing for much of the time as a defender, and along with Ray Youngman and Hughie Tweeddale (Dec'd), is one of the best remembered personnel, serving on the management committee for many years before retiring.

The Hempnall squad for the match was S.Sidell, D.Parfitt, A.Pointer, S.Urry, S.Beckett, S.Smith, M.Ryder (Capt), S.Askew, K.Knights, R.Cooper, N.Rafis, K.Heffer, N.Page, D.Ball.

The Norwich squad included a number of well known players including Spearing, Brown, Sheffield, Fensome, Chapple, Pennock, Smith, Ratcliffe, Clayton, Bevis, Wilson, Cochran.

This is the text from that programme:

"I still can't believe that today a Norwich City team, with players of football league 1st Division status, with be playing "our team" on Hempnall's playing field.

I just hope the whole village will savour the experience and whatever the result, enter into the spirit of the occasion.

I can remember playing at Gt. Yarmouth against a team called "Yarmouth Ravens" in the mid-fifties, in the quarter finals of the Norfolk Junior Cup, at that time a remarkable achievement for Hempnall Football Club. Oh, how times have changed!!

The Club continued to thrive through the sixties in the local leagues, winning the occasional end of season charity cup.

In the early '70's, the management committee under the shrewd Chairmanship of Hughie Tweeddale, and advice of long serving Secretary, Ray Youngman, decided to apply to join the Anglian Combination League.

After many frustrating years, eventually the Club was successful (I can remember year after year during this period, Ray Youngman persistently writing to each Secretary in the Anglian Combination explaining the Club's ambitions, playing conditions and facilities etc., and asking for their support at the yearly AGM's).

During the latter part of the '70's, our Club struggled in the bottom half of Division 4 of the Combination, and I am convinced the Club's officers, with the unyielding toil and dedication, kept the Club viable and steady.

In 1982, the management committee made a vital decision, which in my humble opinion was to change the fortunes of Hempnall Football Club.

They asked Wroxham Football Club if they would release a certain Nicky Page, explaining to Wroxham that Nick would be the ideal player to launch the future of Hempnall Football Club.

Thankfully, Wroxham agreed.

Nicky Page is a local lad who had played senior football for many years, and his return to his home club was an instant revelation. He took the first team by the scruff of the neck, introduced regular dedicated training and many other ideas.

The Club "took off" , 1982/83 winners of Division 3. At the beginning of the 1984/85 season, Nick felt the strain that being first team manager could be affecting his performance and asked the management committee to appoint Trevor Buck to help with the first team, and also play.

Again, an excellent appointment, as Hempnall duly won the Anglian Combination Division 2 as Champions!

A truly remarkable performance.

Trevor became the 1st Team manager at the beginning of the 1985/1986 season, a position he held with great dedication.

At the Club's AGM July 1987, Trevor felt the Club was due for another change for the better, and suggested that Arthur Chenery be asked if he would accept the position of 1st Team Manager.

Arthur agreed, and Trevor became the Club Manager, overseeing the three Saturday teams.

The results this season (1988) are common knowledge. Although our league results are far from favourable, in the Norfolk Senior Cup Hempnall have beaten Downham Market 3-1, Wroxham 1-0, and Gorleston 2-1 to reach the semi-finals and today's "match in a million".

As I remarked at the outset, I hope, nay know, that every player will play his heart out, because Hempnall is a village club that over the years as had it's ups and downs.


In closing, I must mention another honour that has been awarded to Hempnall Football Club.

One evening in May 1982, I was asked to attend a County F.A. Presentation with Hugh Tweeddale and Ray Youngman; unbeknown to us, at the presentation evening, the three of us were each awarded a certificate from the Norfolk County F.A. In recognition and appreciation of our long and valued service to Norfolk football.

That was the proudest moment of my life.

Let's hope at 4 o'clock this afternoon, once again we all feel proud of our team again.

Editor: The match was won by Norwich City by a score of 2-1. In front of a huge crowd of several hundred, we did feel proud of the team – from my memory, Norwich were the classier team, as would be expected, but the performance put in by Hempnall was one to savour, and "the goal" from Neil Rafis stays in the memory. I would think Norwich were a little concerned when Neil's goal flew past a bemused keeper, but the fairy tale was not to be, and Norwich city held out for what was a reasonably deserved victory.