|After thirty-four consecutive seasons in the Blackpool & Fylde Sunday Football Alliance Bloomfield Vets FC player Les Hewitt finally decides to hang up his boots at the age of fifty-one.|
In 1973 I was in the fourth year at Roseacre Junior School, Gladys Night & the Pips were riding that Midnight Train to Georgia, Elton John was singing about Crocodile Rock and Tony Orlando and Dawn were tying a Yellow Ribbon Round the 'Ole Oak Tree'. Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols were still a couple of years away and Sunderland FC were upsetting the mighty Leeds United FC in the FA Cup final at Wembley (Click to view). Unbeknown to me sixteen year old Les Hewitt was about to start his first season in Fylde Coast Sunday football with Red Lion FC.
Red Lion FC – 1973/74 season. Les (Skip rat) Hewitt pictured standing far left. You may also notice regular BFSFA referee Ross Swift in the coat far right (cool wellies). Other players pictured include Paul Gaunt, Steve Magauley (Bottom left), John Bridge, Johnny Rightly and Ronnie Morris. The owner of this picture John 'Bones' Cooper is also on there.
Les Hewitt went on to play an amazing thirty-four consecutive seasons in the Blackpool & Fylde Sunday Football Alliance. His 'weather worn' almost gargoyle like facial features are testament to thirty-four winters driving through the mud at venues such as Moor Park and battling against the freezing rain and gales of Commonedge Road.
At the end of the 2007/08 season nearing the age of fifty-one years old Les finally decided to hang up his boots and announce his well earned retirement. Fyldesport.com recently caught up with Les and asked him a couple of questions about his long Sunday footballing career.
Les pictured after his last game with the famous number 4 shirt.
Clubs played for?
6 – Red Lion FC (twice); Churchtown FC; Boars Head FC; King Edward FC; FC Co-op; Saddle FC and finally Bloomfield Vets FC.
Only six clubs in 34 seasons is a great show of loyalty and commitment. Some individuals played for six different clubs last season!
How many appearances ?
He's no record of the actual number of appearances and to my knowledge neither has anybody else. On a conservative estimate based on 34 seasons * 25 league games plus three cup games per season = 952. Don't forget that he also played Saturdays for many of those seasons.
How many goals ?
Once again there are no official records but Les was a 30 goals a season man from his debut right up to the days of the King Eddie side that folded in 1993.
Sunday League career highlight?
Firstly winning the Prem with the old King Edward FC side that had been promoted consecutive seasons since starting in the bottom division. Also scoring and winning the Gledhill Cup at Bloomfield Road again also with King Edward FC.
Toughest opponent ?
Dave Reagen (Redgie) centre-half that played with King Edward FC. Les played against him many times when Les was with Red Lion FC.
What about your alleged poor disciplinary record?
Only joking – In 34 seasons Les never received a caution or a card of any colour or description – Yet another amazing Hewitt statistic.
Things you'll miss about Sunday football ?
Everything about it – the lads, dressing room banter, the post match pint, playing and winning trophies – everything really.
Things you'll miss the least ?
Les states putting his contact lenses in before every game and in his early days – having to walk his hangover off to sober up to be able to play.
What will you be doing now on Sunday mornings ?
Watching of course.
Will you still be available for the Fyldesport Vets FC ?
Les Hewitt with the Fyldesport Vets pictured bottom row third from left.
Favourite Sunday football venue played at ?
School Road – Wren Rover's ground and Bloomfield Road.
Best player played with ?
David 'Sparrow' Kirkham (King Edward FC)
Best player played against ?
Kevin Curtis (ex-Mammas FC)
Any tips for today's layabouts on being able to play for so many years ?
Be lucky by staying injury free – but more than anything – Les says he loves the game so much and that’s what has kept him going for so long.
After winning the 1989/90 Gledhill Cup Final with King Edward FC. (Les far left with the Bods)
Picking up the Premier Division top scorer award from Dave Taylor at the 1989/90 presentation night.
Looks more like a gypsy streetfighter after the 1989/90 Melling Cup final.
The 1991 Argosy Team.
On the pitch after winning the Melling in the 1990/91 season.
In the suits prior to the 1991/92 Gledhill Cup final. Good to see a South stand behind the goal at Bloomfield road.
Les receives recognition for his long and loyal service to Bloomfield Vets FC
That's it then lads – it's the end of the road for the boots, shin pads and those famous 'lucky' pants (Watch out as they'll soon be appearing in the Bloomfield WMC raffle!)
I've seen many players that don't make it past February in their first season in Sunday Football as the rigours of the Fylde Coast winter often takes its toll on today's mollycoddled, PS2 obsessed, alcopop supping mummy's boys so Les deserves every credit for turning out every Sunday for all of those 34 seasons.
He's the archetypal Sunday footballer and few if any would disagree that he's a worthy candidate for the bfsfa.com/fyldesport hall of fame. Congratulation's Les and we hope you still remain involved with Sunday football.
So my message to you all is BEAT THAT !
If you think that you know someone that's been involved with Sunday football and deserves similar accolades in a similar article then write and tell me all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org I can think of a good number of likely candidates but why not nominate them yourselves?
Fyldesport.com would like to thank all of the good people at Bloomfield Vets FC especially Steve Hughes as his help was invaluable in the creation of this article. Additional photographs kindly provided by Steve Walsh.