Cougars the beginning

Eric Addicott
taken from the Buntingford Journal Sept 1996

It was with considerable trepidation that I agreed, in September 1971, to organise a football match for my son Christian and a few school friends. I knew little about the game and nothing of the rules. I was relieved when I got to Norfolk Road Recreation Ground to find that Ron Martin, Bob Digby, Reg Rowe and the late Eddy Geoghegan had also been roped in.

It was obvious from the boys enthusiasm that something more organised was required; consequently a team was formed under the name “Chipmunks”. We played non-league games against teams from Royston, Bishop’s Stortford, Stevenage and local villages – all very informal.

We had neither kit nor funds to buy one so it was decided to run a sponsored walk from which was raised the princely sum of £156. With this money we purchased the original orange and blue strip – this kit was to be in constant use within the club for the next ten years – it stretched as the boys grew from 10 years to 16 years old, and one of it’s last outings was in an adults fun match!

In December 1971 we were invited to attend a meeting in Royston to form a youth football league among local teams comprising Royston Eagles, Hormead Hares, Braughing Melbourn Tigers, Meldreth and Bassingbourn. Of the original founder member teams only the Royston Eagles and the Chipmunks (Cougars) survive today.

Some of the boys in the original Chipmunk team were: Martin Cantwell, Mark and Darren Cranwell, Christian Addicott, Steve and Pat Geoghegan, Peter wood, David Ray, Terry Watling – these are some of the names that come to mind. There were others, but my memory fails me. We had no Committee at this time and the Treasurer kept the accounts on the back of a cigarette packet.

In 1973 we decided to run another team and the club entered a new era. Doug Kitchiner and Alec Evans moved in with a new spirit and the club elected it’s first Committee. It was decided that the Club name was a little tame; Chipmunks didn’t really reflect the enthusiasm of fourteen and sixteen year olds so, after some deliberation, the name was changed to Cougars. It was at this time that Terry Renouf and Gilbert Monti also entered the scene, taking over the older boys team. It was also during this period that the club enjoyed it’s first real league success, the Under 14 Cup Final. What a day; everyone dressed up in club colours – Wembley wasn’t in it!

In 1974 the league sent a team to Royston’s twin town of Grossalmerode for their annual youth football competition – some of the Cougars and their parents went along. During the visit, we were approached by representatives of the Laudenbach/Epterode youth football club. It was the start of a wonderful experience for both boys and parents and continued until the mid 80s, when the Laudenbach youth team was disbanded. We would visit each other on alternate years and many Anglo-Greman bonds were made between the two towns through the youth football. Today the relationship still continues through individual families, although there is no inter-club connection.

In 1981 the Club celebrated it’s tenth anniversary with a dinner at the then Epicurean Delicatessen – about eighty past and present Managers, Trainers and Committee members, and their wives, attended and it was at that time I realised fully what a large organisation the Club had become. It had gone from a dozen boys to approx. 170 membership in a decade.

In the late 70s the Club acquired a tenancy to a parcel of land on London Road opposite Sainsbury’s. With a lot of hard work from management and parents, a rough field was turned into a football pitch, which has been the Cougars main ground ever since. It has always been the Club’s ambition to own it’s own football ground some time in the future, with permanent changing facilities, showers, and a clubhouse to keep the lads occupied off the pitch. With all the effort put into the Club over the last 25 years maybe one day we’ll realise that dream – the boys of Buntingford Youth Football Club – the Cougars – deserve it.

Throughout the 80’s the Club continued from strength to strength. Our 5 a side competition became so popular it was (and still is) considered one of the best in the county. The Club even shouldered the responsibility to re-establish the Buntingford Carnival for a couple of years. However this became too much of a burden for the over-worked committee.

Last year the club started an Under 18 team which could now give a boy a ten year membership with the club and even longer where some of the older boys turn their hand to team management.

The Cougars are now very much a Buntingford Institution. There are few families who have not been touched by the Club. It is not possible to mention all the people who have worked behind the scenes to keep the Club operating – the Managers and parents who stand cold and wet on a winter’s day to shout encouragement to their team – the little boys standing awe-struck at their first game wondering what to do next, up to the sixteen year old, confident with his team mates of eight seasons.

The Club relationship can best be observed where fathers who spent several seasons with the Club now watch their sons starting out on the same route.

It makes one wonder what the next 25 years will bring.

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