Ex-Stortford footballer Julian Pegg plans a match for old times' sake
Getting the old gang back together for a kickabout and to reminisce about the glory days is a former Bishop's Stortford footballer's goal.
Julian Pegg was part of the successful Northolt Athletic junior team of the 1980s, with the squad regularly picking up silverware as they worked their way up from under-8s to under-16s.
A lot of the players went on to play men’s football together in the town and still try to keep in touch over the internet, with team-mates now living as far afield as Wales and Australia.
Julian would love to have a reunion and perhaps even play one last ‘grudge match’ against old rivals Grange United before discussing classic matches and triumphs of the past over a beer.
Northolt Athletic were part of a big club in the town at the time, and it has subsequently become part of Bishop’s Stortford Community Football Club.
The side Julian was a member of was probably one of the most successful junior teams to come out of Stortford as they won leagues, league cups and East Herts cups in all of their age groups, as well as reaching the Herts County Cup final.
They were managed from the outset by Dennis Rae and lost their one and only match as the senior team in the league – under-15s used to play in under-16 leagues – to Grange United when he was not in charge for a brief spell.
“Dennis was great. He put ideas into our heads and we did our best to go out and do it,” said Julian. “It wasn’t anything fancy. We just played a 4-4-2 formation with quick wingers and we were able to score a lot of goals.
“He was a qualified coach, but he kept it simple for us. We had a great team spirit and everyone pulled together.”
The team played home games on a pitch behind the Harvest Moon pub in Friedberg Avenue, with opponents including the likes of Pearse United and Spartak, and end-of-season prizes were handed out at presentation evenings at the Rhodes arts centre.
It was also something of a family affair for Julian. His dad Geoff was a coach and would perform linesman duties at matches, while his mum Brenda, who has been coaching netball in Stortford for almost 40 years, was part of a big support network helping out with things like providing refreshments and washing the kit.
As well as lifting numerous trophies, the team enjoyed a trip to one of Stortford’s twinned towns, Friedberg in Germany, to take on a local under-18 side in 1987, with Julian and his under-15 team-mates testing themselves against players old enough to sport beards and moustaches.
Julian retired from football at the age of 29 as a result of back and hamstring injuries, but he still enjoys sport and plays golf.
The 46-year-old former St Michael’s Primary and Leventhorpe School pupil now lives in Braintree with girlfriend Elaine and works as a senior import broker for FedEx at Stansted Airport.
“The core of us went through together for about another eight years after finishing junior football,” he said.
“When we went into men’s football a lot of us played for Athletic 88 on Sundays and some of us played for the Northolt men’s teams on Saturdays. Some of us also played for Swifts.
“Some people have moved away to places like Reading, Wales and even Australia, but social media keeps us in touch. We all wish each other happy birthdays and try to catch up when we can.”
Julian would love to hear from former team-mates and any Grange United players from the time who are interested in playing a match. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.