Coaching courses with professional or former professional footballers are commonplace these days, but in the late 1960s, the boys from Benyon County Primary School in South Ockendon had the unique opportunity to benefit from the experience of a couple of hardened pros. At the time, we didn’t realize that both of these players had a bit of history, but leafing through Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly or the Daily Mail Football Annual soon revealed we were in exalted company.
Ronnie Fogg turned up for our Friday afternoon games lessons. He donned the typical track suit of the time, the sort that Sir Alf’s England side wore, and I recall he wore Puma boots. He was a big chap, undoubtedly tough to play against. At the time – this was 1968-69 – he was 30 years old and had just finished playing for Bedford Town in the Southern League. In fact, “Foggy”, as he was inevitably known by a gang of pre-pubescent lads, was on his way to Chelmsford City.
Foggy had a wicked sense of humour. No, actually we thought he was just a miserable bloke. I was the brunt of one or two of his practical jokes. Christmas 1968. I wanted a football kit. I wanted a Chelsea strip. So what did I get? An all-white kit, the sort that used to stare at you out of a Littlewoods or Freemans catalogue. Litesome. Why white? I guess it was cheaper than blue. And as any self-respecting Chelsea fan will tell you, Leeds were crap (in truth, Leeds were on their way to the Football League title).
Nevertheless, I made out that the all-white kit was a tribute to Real Madrid. Again, I have to thank Mr Buchan and the International Football Book No.5 for making me aware of the playing strip of the Spanish giants.
Foggy made the most of it. “Here comes Di Stefano,” he joked when he saw me tip-toeing onto the muddy pitch just after Christmas. “He’s afraid he might get his kit dirty.”
As we lined up for some dribbling practice, Foggy asked me to step forward. “He’s got a new kit and it’s lovely and white. I’m not going to be popular with his Mum, but sit down.” I sat down on the muddy grass. “Now grind your bottom into the grass…that’s it, nice and muddy.”
“How do you expect to be a footballer if you’re frightened of the mud?”. I was not happy, in fact, I was downright annoyed, but I have never forgotten that incident.
Foggy held Aldershot’s goalscoring record for a single season for some years. The Tilbury-born centre forward scored something like 23 league goals in 1963-64. The record was there for all to see in Rothman’s Football Year Book. But he never, ever told us about that achievement in the two years he helped us to develop our “skills” (I use that term loosely).
About the same time, a summer coaching course was taken by one Alan Sealey, late of West Ham United. Now he did tell us, in no uncertain terms, that he had scored two goals in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final of 1965. And he did – against TSV Munich 1860. Sealey made sure we knew all about him, because on a rainy day, he made us watch the game on a cine film. We also watched the 1966 World Cup final, which featured his mates Mooro, Hursty and “The Ghost”, Martin Peters, the first time-travelling footballer who was 10 years’ ahead of his time.
Sealey took part in the games with us, visibly enjoying himself when he scored a goal or two. It was all reminiscent of Brian Glover in “Kes”, except the former West Ham forward was “Sealey…it’s a goal” (he actually used to commentate as he was coaching us) and not Bobby Charlton. He undoubtedly played with Foggy at Bedford Town at some stage of his career. Sadly, Sealey died when he was just 53, of a heart attack, as did his nephew Les of goalkeeping fame.
These characters were jobbing footballers. They were not stars or millionaires, but they loved the game. And this Real Madrid, Chelsea and England player has never forgotten them! The mud stain never came out of those white shorts.