I’m currently reading Eddie Hapgood’s autobiography (he captained Arsenal and England during the 1930s). It’s a pretty good read. As you can imagine a lot has changed in the game since then.
This excerpt from a match report that Hapgood was involved in is included in the book. (Hapgood’s Arsenal are playing Hapgood’s previous club Kettering Town). See if you can work out what the reporter is moaning about before the end of the article…
“The next time I go to see a match on the Rockingham Road ground at Kettering, I shall insist on being accompanied by Sherlock Holmes, the ‘Big Four’ from Scotland Yard, and a leading member of the British Magical Society. Though I have no intention of causing any undue alarm in the camp of the faithful followers of the Poppies, I feel it incumbent upon me to warn them, at the close of a thrilling season, that the green patch which covers the playing area conceals a treacherous quicksand, wherein players disappear and are never seen again.
Kettering were entertaining the Arsenal in a friendly fixture, and, with the exception of a goal or two that happened along in the first half, all went well (though I believe the diminutive Mitchell had some difficulty with his shorts – they seemedto fit too tightly around his ankles). It was after the referee blew the whistle for the refreshment interval that the tragedy happened. Two strapping Arsenal players – David Jack and ‘Happy’ Hapgood – vanished into thin air. Presumably, the quicksands had swallowed them up, not even a tuft of hair could be traced, and the crowd stood aghast when the Arsenal re-started. No David Jack; no Happy-go-Lucky Hapgood.
In their places appeared two substitutes, mysteriously recruited from some sort of Arsenal ‘pool’ held in reserve (like a battalion in billets) somewhere behind the grandstand. People wondered; they whispered in queer undertones. What happend to Jack? Where was Hapgood?
If there had been anotehr adjournemount before the end of the match, I should not have been surprised to see the Arsenal team re-enter the arena with a brandnew forward line, three halves borrowed from the Scottish League, two backs from West Bromwich, and a goalkeeper on loan from Newcastle United.
I was beginning to wonder wheter the police had authorised the issue of the usual £500 Reward notices, when a powerful voice nearby informed the world that Jack andhis friend had merely dropped out to give two other Arsenal men a chance to kick the ball!”