when it was realised by Croydon NLR Club that the London New Left Club’s challenge to a game of soccer was to be taken seriously, there was much unexpected enthusiasm from a hitherto ostentatiously sport-despising faction of political dissenters. Consequently the match was arranged to be played in Croydon on Sunday, April 10; and in their first game the Croydon YCND and New Left confounded all expectations by beating the London New Left by five goals to four.
The Croydon team was composed of players of apparently antithetical styles. Basic football skills—such as trapping and dribbling—were displayed by those players educated at grammar schools, whereas the public school clique scorned such proletarian refinements and employed for greater directness in their offensive and defensive methods. The London team appeared to display far greater cohesion and unity—possibly because they all wore shirts of the same colour.
Playing with the hurricane at their backs in the first half, Croydon quickly turned the natural elements to their advantage. After a few London attacks had been rendered abortive, the large Croydon left-half ran through most of the London defence and served with a shot that went nowhere near the goalkeepet. “What a pity he doesn’t belong to N.D. or New Left” was someone’s irrelevant remark. The Croydon left-winger, in spite of being the unfittest man on the field, quickly scored two opportunist goals, at least one of which left the London goal-keeper feeling a wronged man.
After the desperately-awaited half-time, Croydon set about consolidating their lead to five goals to nil. But after the Croydon goal-keeper had watched interestedly as the ball rolled past him into the goal and jumped desperately at a shot that was well over his head but which dipped under the bar, Croydon realised the advantage the wind had brought them in the first half. However, fighting hard uphill into the wind, they made several strong attacks, in one of which their left-winger finished a brilliant move by smashing the ball narrowly past the goal, and in another the centre-forward drove the ball confidently against the post. London quickly retaliated by scoring two more goals with gentle shots which the Croydon goal-keeper contemptuously ignored.
In the last quarter of an hour London attacked strongly. The Croydon goalkeeper momentarily made himself the local hero by brilliantly diving for the ball at the feet of the London left-winger, who was then adjudged offside by the referee. After many alarms and diversions, the referee blew his whistle for full-time, and the players were halfway off the pitch when the Croydon left-back was prompted by an over-developed social conscience to announce that the referee was five minutes early. However, the combined presence of 21 players in the Croydon penalty area failed to produce another goal, and Croydon trooped off the pitch the winners by five goals to four.
Between bouts of coughing and wheezing in the changing rooms, it was generally agreed that the match had been enjoyable and worthwhile. It is refreshing that members of the New Left and Nuclear Disarmament Campaign should meet on such an unexpected plane; and it is hoped that such contacts will be renewed in similar sporting activities in the future.