Most people would be aware of Michael Palin and Terry Jones. They were both members of the world famous comedy troupe 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'. Michael also starred in his own series of travel programs such as 'Around The World In 80 Days', 'Pole To Pole' and 'Full Circle'.
Between 1976 and 1979 Michael Palin and Terry Jones made a nine part series for the BBC called 'Ripping Yarns'. Each episode had a different theme but were based on tales of derring-do. The eighth episode which went to air on 17th October 1979 was 'Golden Gordon'. This yarn tells the story of the final days of Barnstoneworth United, a team playing in the Yorkshire League that had seen better days. In the 1920's the team had seen much success but 1935 had seen the club struggle and the fan support dwindle. Golden Gordon is not a player but Barnstoneworth's biggest fan. Gordon Ottershaw (Michael Palin) spends his entire life surrounded by everything Barnstoneworth...he even named his son Barnstoneworth, who's schooling consists of being able to recite the entire 1922 Yorkshire Premier League Team instead of British Prime Ministers.
After suffering another 8-1 humiliating defeat, (to Brighouse, who's center forward wears glasses) Gordon returns home and smashes the front room up in disgust, and throws the clock through the window. The club calls an emergency meeting at the Barnstoneworth United Social Club, which Gordon also smashes up. The chairman informs the assembled members that the club is to be sold to the 'Foggen Scrap' company, who will name a crushing mill in honour of the club and that the following Saturdays cup game against Denley Moor Academicals will be the last game at the Sewerage Works Ground. As the team can only muster four players (including player/manager Mr Dainty who joined BUFC on a free transfer from Walsall) Gordon decides to go and round up all the stars from the early 1920's to play the final match. The result? Well, that would be giving it away wouldn't it?
After several viewings of the above episode, and with tears in his eyes, club founder Graham Rumble decided to do something about it. He enlisted the help of Frank Leyden who was a very good (for a scouser) football player and they tried to bring back the glory days of a once famous club. Like King Arthur and Robin Hood before them, they gathered a small but loyal band of men to form a committee and on that magic day, 24th May 1987 in a flat in Coogee Australia, the legend was allowed to continue. Dougie Winn, Chris Manly, Elaine Leyden, Terry Idiens, Steve Lynch and Garry Borrodale, along with Graham and Frank, were the individuals to go forth and find nut-jobs to play.
Graham wrote to Michael Palin (he got the address from Billy 'the hat' Foot who approached Michael Palin to endorse an indoor cricket team called Barnstoneworth?!). Michael Palin promptly replied offering his services as Honorary President and UK Messiah. He informed us that there was a Barnstoneworth Supporters Club in the Thames Valley and that George Harrison was a member. Enthused by the chosen one's involvement, the new club went on it's way to raise funds for the club to start the 1988 season.
The recruiting campaign started in earnest. The influx became a deluge and before long the club had enough players to field two teams in the Southern and Eastern Sunday League. Thirty seconds before our first ever competition game, the second team were still waiting for the shorts to arrive. But in the true Barnstonworth tradition, Shorts did not matter and the players got on with the game. Dean Idiens wrote himself into Barnstonworth folklore by scoring the first ever competitive goal in the Southern Hemisphere but it was not enough to secure their first win and eventually got beat 2-1 by J.B. City. It was then the first teams chance to turn on the magic and they powered to a magnificent 4-0 victory over hapless Redfern. Ronnie Inness had the honour of scoring the initial competitive goal for the First Team.
In only their second game the Second Team created another piece of Barnstoneworth history when they recorded the first ever "8 bloody 1" victory over Maccabi and started the tradition where the club shouts the beers for the players after the game.
The players for this historic occasion were: 1. Billy 'Vushy' McBain 2. Mick McClure 3. Dougie 'Jocky' Winn 4. Kenny Sinclair 5. Peter Flaherty 6. Kevin Beaton 7. John Reid 8. Alan 'Crazy Al' Calder 9. Jimmy Murray 10. Tony Caputo ( sub Mick Forshaw half time ) 11. Jaz McGhee ( sub Steve Higginson 70 mins ) Goals: McClure, Beaton (2), Jimmy Murray, Martin O'Connor own goal, and the eighth goal scored by Steve Higginson.
To the amazement of everybody at the club, both teams made the semi-final of the league. The Second Team had a great resurgence in the second half of the season but were beaten 2-1 in the semi by league champions Randwick Botany. The First Team finished Runners-Up by one point in the league to Rose & Crown who by now had become rivals. The First Grade played Phoenix in the semi and the game attracted the attention on the national press. Dave Rose from the Sydney Morning Herald, having heard of the club's unusual name and 1930's playing attire, did a full page article on the club which appeared in the next Friday's edition. The players didn't let their fans down and beat Phoenix 4-0 to advance to the Grand Final against now bitter rivals Rose & Crown. However, Barnstoneowrth were again subjected to a barrage of pressure from all forms of media in the days before the game. The report in the Herald was picked up by Channel 9 who sent Tim Wharton and camera crew to capture the resurrection of the Barnstoneworth as a football force. Not since the 1922 Yorkshire Cup Final (when Neville Davitt scored two) had United been in the Cup Final. The game played at St George Stadium attracted Australia wide as Channel 9 showed a full fifteen minute report on it's Wide World of Sport show the following Sunday.
The club was now in the midst of of media frenzy and were asked by Channel SBS to play a game against Barnstonworth Queensland. Several interviews were conducted and the clubs name spread amongst the ethnic communities. With freshly Brylcreamed hair especially for the occasion, Barnstonworth NSW beat their QLD brothers (who included John Charlton, son of England World Cup hero Jack) 4-3 in a highly entertaining game.
The inaugural Golden Gordon Awards ceremony took place in October and the awards included:
- The Gordon Ottershaw Trophy (Clubman of the Year) - Dougie Winn
- Davitt Cup (1st Team Player of the Year) - Dougie Bennicke
- Tapwell Trophy (2nd Team Player of the Year) - Kevin Beaton
- 1st Horses Arse Trophy - Steve Higginson
The Horses Arse is now a much sought after trophy, presented for gaffes and other misdemeanors throughout the season
In 1990 the good name of Barnstoneworth United spread to Melbourne when Mickey White, in missionary mode, told of the amazing happenings in NSW and Keith Chalesworth, Mickey's brother-in-law, set the wheels in motion for a Melbourne team. Not long after that, the boys from Terrigal Dinosaurs Over 35's changed their name and strip to Barnstoneworth after playing a hilarious friendly in Sydney. There are other BUFC teams in Hobart and Orange, as well as Hong Kong and a team in New York called Barnstonworth (with no 'e') Rovers.
So the Legend continues........
Barnstoneworth United Sydney: A Hard, Ruthless, Tough, Fighting Unit!