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Monday 19th May 2014 ko 18.30

Hertfordshire Senior County League, Senior Premier Division


STANDON & PUCKERIDGE 4 (Endacott 3 Stephen 16 James 47 Miller 51)

Att 41

Entry FREE

Programme NO

Tea 80p

I thought I knew North London and its suburbs, the villages with their war memorials and their church spires. God knows I spent 3 years living there, but every so often I visit somewhere that throws me.

At first Cuffley fitted my expectations, its a place of wealth, a popular place for Premier League footballers to buy property with easy access to the capital, and former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy lives here. That said there is resistance locally to a Tesco Local opening here, and I do wonder if it did open, would Sir Terry shop there? But there’s more to the village than meets the eye, and it all starts with the football club….

They have an odd nickname, “The Zeps,” and the reason why is quite a story. On 3 September 1916 the German airship SS 11 was heading south to bomb London when it was shot down by Lieutenant Leefe Robinson, flying a converted single tractor-engined bi-plane at an altitude of 11,500 feet, raking the airship with machine-gun fire. As he was preparing for another attack, the airship burst into flames and crashed in a field behind the Plough Inn, Cuffley. The airship’s occupants were all killed, and Lt Robinson became the first Victoria Cross recipient for action in the UK.

This action was witnessed by thousands of Londoners who, as they saw the airship descend in flames, cheered and sang the National anthem, one even played the bagpipes! Robinson was also awarded £3,500 in prize money and a silver cup donated by the people of Hornchurch. There is a memorial to Robinson on the East Ridgeway and a mini-Zeppelin on display at the village hall is his honour, but there is one small problem, it wasn’t a Zeppelin he shot down! For many years the airship was assumed to be a standard Zeppelin SL 21 and it wasn’t until decades later that it was correctly identified as a Schütte-Lanz SL 11. In March 2013, a blade and hub from one of the aircraft’s propellers turned up on the BBC television programme, “Antiques Roadshow,” having been converted into a walking-stick stand!

The King George V playing fields are to be found on the edge of the village, with the bowls club neatly tucked behind the clubhouse. The pitch is almost as well manicured as the bowls lawn, and there’s even a golf buggy so that stray footballs can be retrieved quickly. More than anything the appeal is the rolling fields behind; it was a pleasure to be outside on a warm night at the end of the football season.

That last fact attracted the groundhoppers, and I didn’t see any leave when no programme appeared. It didn’t matter, these were two good sides with finishing being the main difference between them. Jake Grant was booked after giving the early penalty away, and less lenient referees than Martin Balser could well have been more harsh, he looked clean through to me. Stephen doubled the lead soon after, and from then on in Cuffley huffed and puffed but made little impression. Two quick second-half goals made the final score look harsh, but in the final analysis the game was little more than an end of season workout.

For the thirty-or-so groundhoppers present, that was enough, and a final social gathering before the close season is no bad thing is it?