"30 years of hurt... never stopped me dreaming..." said poor old Baddiel and Skinner before Euro '96. Well if you think that's bad, try being Keith Hipwood. The Merton Chairman and all-time top goalscorer was around from the beginning, three whole months before Back to the Future: Part I was even released in the cinemas.
Back then, in July 1985, Keith witnessed 'The Mighty Soash' established by employees of the London Borough of Merton Council. He's presided over years as the council boys have fallen away and be replaced with younger, shadier looking lads. He remembers the season 17 years ago that Jason Costello joined the club as a striker, he remembers a young Adam Loveday joining - back when he had more pace and considerably more hair. He was there to witness Loveday's ill-fated spell in charge when the team finished bottom of the league and he remembers signing the financial loan agreement so Adam could payback the £1,000 he'd collected in match fees and "accidentally" spent behind the bar over the course of the season. Keith remembers 14 different clubhouses and remembers travelling with the club to Dublin, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Lisbon, Prague, Budapest, Madrid, Brussels, Berlin, Rome, Seville, Nice and Valencia AND he even remembers John Buffy scoring goals! However, there's one thing that Keith can't remember and that's Merton Social lifting a cup. We've tried and tried over the years but never quite made it over the line.
On Thursday 28th April, on a fateful night at Molesey. That all changed.
Merton Social's valiant first team battled their way to the final after victories over Lennox (3-1) and AFC Centrals (3-2) and were facing a Petersham Pumas side who'd had to play twice as many games to get there. It was always going to be a hard game.
Merton took the lead early in the game. Jox was barged off the ball and the referee awarded a freekick 30 yards out. Danny Winters stepped up and hit a beautifully back-spun ball to the edge of the box where Jack Massey was lurking. Massey connected sweetly to send the ball back into the box and tee up gaffer Anstey, who stooped low to lead by example and smash his header into the back of the net.
Stephen Moules made it two a few moments later, when Massey's superb run landed him the ball. He picked out Jox who flicked the ball to the edge of the six yard box, Where Mousley steamed in and slotted home.
The Pumas pulled one back with a good header before half time, but the social were unstoppable and held on to full time with the scores staying the same.
As the fans invaded the pitch, there were choruses of 'Merton Til I Die' as skipper Danny Winters strolled forward to collect the trophy and send the 15 supporters into rapture.
Keith's dream was complete. Merton finally earned that star above the crest and it was a cracking night for all.