30-07-11: Brightlingsea Regent XI 4 Tottenham Hotspur Legends 2 (Friendly) North Road, Brightlingsea, Essex
With a population around the eight-and-a-half thousand mark Brigthlingsea sits on the estuary of the River Colne, 10 miles south-east of Colchester and eight miles west of Clacton on Sea. Once known for its oystery fishery and shipbuilding industries these have all but vanished although the town does have a marina and a recently refurbished yacht club to retain a ‘working’ link with the sea. You may remember the series of protests against the live export of animals through the town in 1995 that became collectively known as the ‘Battle of Brighlingsea’ and kept the local Police busy for some nine months.
The western promenade, which is overlooked by Bateman’s Tower, boasts hundreds of beach huts and a 1930’s open air swimming pool. Although nowhere near as grand as Ipswich’s Art Deco Lido at least it’s still functioning. The tower (which leans in a similar fashion to its more famous counterpart in Pisa) was built in 1883 by John Bateman as a folly for his daughter as she recovered from consumption.
Former Ipswich captain and midfielder Matt Holland swore by the healing powers of the sea water here. Football’s Mr Indestructible regularly paddled along the beach at the Essex coastal town following manager George Burley’s recommendation of salt-water therapy to a reduce the swelling in a ankle injury. He’d picked up the knock during the home match with Manchester United – Town’s first following their return to the Premiership in 2000 – to put in jeopardy a remarkable record of 171 consecutive appearances in Cup and League games. But the treatment worked and Holland went on to extend the run to 223 consecutive appearances for the Blues!
Steve Sedgley a midfield predecessor of Holland’s at Portman Road is probably more commonly associated with Spurs and Coventry than with Ipswich. In a playing career that spanned fourteen seasons he made 84 league appearances for Coventry, 164 for Tottenham, 105 for Town and a further 106 for Wolves. He picked up two FA Cup winners medals, one with Coventry as an unused substitute in the Sky Blue’s 3–2 defeat of Spurs in the 1987 final, and one four years later, with Spurs this time, as the North Londoners beat Forest 2-1.
Ipswich paid £1 million for Sedgley in the Summer of 1994 and he spent three eventful seasons in Suffolk as Town were relegated a year later, just missed out on the play-offs in 1996 and were close to a Wembley appearance in 1997 but lost out to Sheffield United in a heartbreaking play-off semi-final second leg. His languid playing style saw him spend most games wandering seemingly disinterested around the centre circle before coming to life to make a crucial tackle or to ping an inch perfect pass out to the flanks.
And that’s pretty much how he played this afternoon as he and a Tottenham Hostpur Legends side took on Brigthlingsea Regent – new members for the coming season of the Ridgeons League – in a Charity match in aid of ‘Cardiac Risk in the Young’. While I recognised many of his teams mates faces, and their names as the teams were called out over the tannoy, I can’t claim to be able to match one with the other. Perhaps a passing Spurs fan could take a look at the team picture above and do the honours. In any case good on them for putting on a decent performance and Brigthlingsea Regent too who, on this showing anyway, should prove a handful for other clubs in Ridgeons Division One.