The other chap I went with – Frank Nottage – I lost track of him. He stopped going to Millwall and we just sort-of lost touch. He was older than me at the time and, as I mentioned, he wasn’t in all that good health either.
The people who went were a good crowd, and I made friends with a number of them. Some are still friends. The trip resulted in at least one marriage. A Millwall supporter met a Q.P.R. supporter who became goalkeeper for the England women’s team. This was Brian & Pat Napier. I got to know Brian because he was another Millwall supporter. Pat was travelling with some Q.P.R. supporters I think. My wife and me still regularly meet up with Pat and Brian. In fact Pat eventually saw the light and is now a Millwall season ticket holder!
I lost track of Colin Kerch. He moved down to Tilbury. Alan ‘Cobby’ Jones. He’s dead now.
For me the trip was there-and-then and after that I sort of forgot about it. It was an adventure that not many people got to do at the time. But I went to so much football at the time. Yes, it was special though.
I can’t deny that I’ve dined out on the trip. And yes, I felt more than slightly pioneering. When I tell people that I saw the World Cup in 1966 and in 1970 I suppose I’m held in some awe. I forget that many people weren’t even born then. Mind you, I have lived on the stories for the past 40 years! I suppose it’s because in 1970 not many people went abroad with England. It has to be remembered that at that time, the only way to get a cheap trans-Atlantic fare was to travel with an organised group in a charter aircraft. It was only with the coming of Freddie Laker and his Skytrain in the mid-1970s that cheap trans-Atlantic fares became readily available to all.
It wasn’t until we moved into the new stadium at Millwall that I thought I recognised this chap (Patrick Burke). I said to my mate “I’m sure that bloke went to Mexico…” But never spoke to him for years. But one day – at a Millwall ‘Dockers Day’ he came up to me and said “You went to Mexico, didn’t you”. But even now we’re still on “Hello…” terms. That’s it. We’re both on the aisle seat at the Den. He’s about three rows in front.
In more recent years, whenever we have followed England abroad we just booked for the three Group games. We usually come back quite happy as we tend to win maybe a couple of the games and qualify for the next phase.
I carried on watching England but didn’t attend any more big tournaments. I slowed down a bit. I’m afraid my days of travelling away to matches are finished, and I only go to Millwall home matches now.
I haven’t really dined out on this over the years. The only thing we [me, Kerch-ey and Cobby] used to talk about was nearly getting nicked in Puerto Vallarta! Apart from that it was planes, coaches, hotel, football…
Over the years I gave most of the souvenirs from my trip away. What would I do with them now? They’re now in the hands of people who would hopefully relish them.
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