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Northwood Park - ground opening

In March 2008 it was thirty years since the present football ground at Northwood Park was officially opened. Before then, the club had played its Middlesex League fixtures on a roped off pitch in the main recreation ground when the youth team pitches are now situated – in those days we had Under 18s and Under 16s teams playing (on Saturdays), but not the vast youth set-up we have today.

The stars were out in force at Northwood Park for that opening game on Sunday, 27th March 1978. And the fans were there as well. To mark the opening of the new enclosed ground, Northwood turned out a Select XI to face the talented Entertainers' line-up and over 1,000 people turned up to watch.

The Entertainers XI had been formed in 1960, and traveled the country playing charity football matches, and included many stars of the time from television, theatre, and the music world.

The Entertainers had actor Tony Selby, from the popular Get Some In show, as the spearhead of their attack. Actors Dai Bradley, Peter Duncan and Jack Shepherd showed they could play a bit of football as well, and then team also included drag queen Hugh Elton, supposedly to provide the comedy, and pop stars Mark Pinder, Chris Redburn and Tony Rice-Milton.

The official opening ceremony was performed by the Mayor of Hillingdon, Cllr. John Beasley, in the company of club President Gordon Pamenter, Chairman Mick Russell and General Secretary Paul Byrne. The opening ceremony is pictured above. The Mayor was presented to the two teams before the big kick-off.

In the end the Entertainers won 7-6, with Dai Bradley (2), Pete Duncan (2), Chris Redburn, Tony Selby and Jeremy Bulloch scoring their goals.

The Select XI brought together many well-known faces. There was Jim Langley, then manager of Hillingdon Borough, but previously left-back for England, Fulham, and QPR, with whom he won a Football League Cup winners’ medal at Wembley.

Former manager TonySaunders, who had since moved on to Middlesex League opponents CAV, and local sports editors Paul Harrington (Gazette), John Comfort (Hillingdon Mirror) and Pat Mooney (Harrow Observer), helped to complete the team.

Trailing 4-3 at the break, the Select XI brought their big guns into action in the second half. Graham Taylor, Pat Mooney (2) plus first team regulars Robin Tidd and Martin Ellis (2) replied for Northwood, but the Entertainers took the match.

"We are well satisfied with the way things went," Paul Byrne was quoted in the local paper.

"We had over 1,000 people there and we should raise a substantial amount of money."

Proceeds were split between theNorthwood FC ground fund and St. Vincent's Orthopaedic Hospital.

Since that time, much work has gone into developing the ground into the smart stadium that it is today. I wonder what it will be like in 30 years from now?

The photo below shows Northwood v Rayners Lane in March 1976, when the club still played their games in the main park area. Paul Byrne is featured in the centre out jumped by the Lane defender, whilst Ian Harvey and Geoff Mills are in the background.