Favorite Moments - 001-025 Your fun memories from EOTB

fm12 - Lucky Break, off to Wembley, For the Second Time, 1977 Leeds -v- Widnes

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Monday, May 14, 2012
Gary Kitchen
Leeds .. is the club I follow

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Wembley 1977

Six years on and another Wembley final, and this time the first of many weekend stopovers. We hadn't meant to stay in London, we'd bought the tickets and were going to travel to London in my company escort van, which would have been rather incomfortable for at least one of the three of us - the one who would have to slide around in the back admist coils of cable and electrical switchgear.

We were playing dominoes in the Queenswood club on a Friday night the week before the final - loser travels in the back - when an announcement was made that three vacancies had arisen on the Queenswood club weekend trip to Wembley.

To qualify for the world famous Queenswood trip to Wembley every year you had to ;

1) be male (absolutely no women allowed)

2) take plenty of spending money

3) have the constitution of Oliver Reeds liver.

We qualified - just - and one minute later were stood in front of the Queenswood club committee swearing allegience to the cause (dont EVER tell anyones wife what they got up to), and promising to be blind drunk from Friday morning to Sunday evening.

There was however one problem, the committee had booked us all into the Strand Palace hotel, located just off Trafalger Square it was very very posh, (we were forewarned about the bar prices) - and it had twin rooms, which meant that one of us was going to have to share with an old chap called Maurice. Now I'm sure that Maurice was a very nice chap, but we had plans to stay out very late and be very, very drunk by the time we got back to the hotel each evening, and the thought of one of us tiptoeing into our room to be met by Maurice, sat up in bed in his flat cap and nightshirt demanding to know where we thought we had been and what sort of state is that to come home to - didn't exactly fill us with glee - nor did the thought of explaining to him the next morning exactly what it was that we were doing in the sink at 4am that morning.

We played dominoes for him - best of three, then best of five, seven, nine, on and on we went, cheating, accusing the others of cheating, determined not to be the one to share with Maurice, until eventually last orders was called and we still hadn't decided.

We still hadn't decided when we got on the Wallace Arnold coach the following Friday, but each of us knew that it wouldn't be us.

The whole of the party gathered together in the crystal chandaliered lobby of the Strand Palace whilst the club secretary called out the paired-off names and handed out the room keys - Maurices name was called and he turned to us (a right miserable sod he looked too) - "which one of you lot is sharing with me then, come on I 'aven't got all day".

We nudged each other forward, none willing to take on the role of Maurices bed partner, when suddenly our names were called out. Grabbing the keys I raced for the lifts dragging my overnight bag with me and shoving one of my mates towards Maurice - lifts not available I charged up the stairs, closely followed by my two mates - this was going to be a race to the death, first two to claim a bed get to sacrifice the third on Maurices alter.

Reaching the first floor I checked the key - room number 505, shit, four more floors to go, the fight was getting dirty by now, the other two daren't overtake me as they didn't know the room number, but they were on my heels by now - literally grabbing my ankles and pulling me back down the stairs - up three steps, back down two.

Punches were thrown, bags clattered into heads, curses uttered, at one point all three of us rolled back down a full half flight of stairs, a ball of arms, legs, bags and flying fists, much to the disgust of the other paying guests who thought that they had booked into a quiet, sophisticated, high class central London hotel - we were to prove them wrong several times that weekend.

Eventually room 505 was reached, three hands grappled with the key and door handle, three bodies tried to squeeze through the door at once, eyes were gouged, ribs were jabbed and testicles squeezed - it was as dirty as it gets, but the stakes were high. Three bodies flung themselves onto the nearest bed and three exhausted lads on a weekend outing continued the fight to roll the other two off the bed.

We called a truce - the only honourable thing to do, after all it was mid afternoon and pubs in London were open all day, we had beer to drink, we were on a weekend outing and we weren't drunk yet, this was no time to argue over the sleeping arrangements.

Much later on that night, after a tour of most of central London's taverns we found ourselves in Soho - the porn district - so of course it was compulsory to do the tourist thing and go watch a slightly risque film - (not the sort of thing usually shown at the Cottage Road anyway). A cinema was quickly selected and a film chosen - "Come Play With Me" starring Mary Millington, the doorman said it had been nominated for several oscars and would be an education for us.

What he didn't tell us was that it would take the last of our spending money to "join" the "private cinema club" and that after paying our "membership fee" we would have to wait outside for an hour before we could go in. Sure enough we went along with this and an hour later found ourselves in a very dark room seated in front of a very small, portable screen waiting for the film to start.

I wish that I could recount what the film was all about but the truth is that we were awoken an hour later by the doorman who asked us to leave as our snoring was upsetting the other "club members".

Staggering back to the hotel we reached an agreement on the sleeping arrangements - three of us would share two beds, and sod Maurice. In the room the two beds were pushed together, blankets and pillows shared out, a coin tossed and I won the middle bit - fantastic I thought, at least I won't get pushed off the bed during the night.

So it was that I awoke at 4.30am to find myself on the floor inbetween the two beds which had gradually parted during the night, still too drunk to do anything about it I lay there until 7am listening to my two so-called friends fart and snore their way through what was (to them) a very good nights sleep.

Match day beckoned and after a proper hang-over dominated english breakfast and a tour of the imperial war museum we took off to Wembley stadium. The history books show that Leeds beat Widnes that day to win the Challenge Cup, the star of the show being a very young Leeds scrum half, Kevin Dick who scrambled over between the posts to score the winning try. My memory also reminds me that we had seats (yes, seats, very posh in those days), right on the halfway line - I told you that the Queenswood club Wembley trip was renowned for its hospitality.

The history book is where I would have to go for more details on the match because to be truthfull I was soooo hungover that the whole day passed by in a blur - we had been drinking again at dinnertime in London, and again at the ground, and again after the match, and again when we got back to the hotel - the bar prices didn't matter at this stage. After a quick change it was out on the town for some serious drinking at which point the memory simply does not exist any more.

I do remember the sleeping arrangements that night though.

At 2am that morning, brains working overtime on copious amounts of alchohol, we decided that three sleeping the length of the bed didn't work, and we therefore nominated to remake the beds so that we could all sleep across them. Blankets and pillows re-distributed we settled down for a solid, (even if noisy and smelly) nights sleep, only to wake an hour later with all three of us sitting on the floor inbetween the two beds - they'd moved apart again.

The final solution was to dismantle the beds completely, stacking the bed frames against the wall and laying the matresses on the floor, this we achieved at around 4am and finally managed a couple of hours sleep.

Leaving the room in one hell of a mess the following morning to go home (the maid would literally have had to "make" both beds again) - we met Maurice on the landing whereupon he informed us that he had been looking out for us all weekend to do a room swap as his room had three beds in it.

(Quigs ---- sounds like old league supporters are the same the world over......)


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