Past Player Memories Part 16 – Lee Caffell

Nickname – Oggy

Ruts Appearances – 507

Ruts Goals – 21

Question 1 – When did you join the Old Ruts and why?

I joined halfway through the 91/92 or 92/93 season becoming the Clubs Record Signing at the time which was the £2 admin fee for a Transfer at the time.

I had been playing for British Aerospace (Hawker Athletic) in Kingston, but I wasn’t particularly enjoying it and having played with Gavin on Sundays he asked me to join the Ruts. Whilst I was actually playing for B.A I’d played against Howard Meredith as he was playing for Wimbledon 200. We got chatting and he mentioned he was an Old Rut too so I told him to come and join too, which he did by turning up at pre-season training the following Season.

Question 2 – What was your most memorable match and why?

My most memorable match was for the 2nd XI at Nursery Road on the main pitch in a Cup Semi-Final, we were playing against a Force 10 wind in the first half and we couldn’t get anywhere near the half way line, consequently we went  2-0 down. A few of our team decided to push forward, but my old head, told me to keep calm and defend until the break, as we would have the wind in our favour in the 2nd half.

Growing up as a kid I spent most of spare time playing football at Nursery Rd and Abbey Rec, so I knew it like back of my hand. We then got awarded a free kick just inside our half, I checked with ref if it was direct, so I just hit it as high and straight as I could hoping to get a corner, but the wind behind it flew through the air and then Nigel Watford told me, that as the keeper came out to collect he shouted Oh Shit’ as the Ball flew over his head and into the net. We went and reached the Cup Final after this.

Question 3 – Who was the best Manager/Captain you played under?

Choosing the Best Manager or Captain is very hard, as I never played under a regular one. However, I will pick Gary Newcome as when I played for first team he was a great leader and an inspiration to the team.

Question 4 – Your funniest Ruts Football Memory.

The incident in a match on the Belgium tour 1995 where during the game Ben Barber acquired the nickname Cymbals when a mad angry Belgian smacked him either side of his head!) I was Captain on the day and with the match as good as won I was looking around to substitute someone so everyone got a run out, as I caught the eye of the late great Billy Faust and before I could open my mouth he said to me ‘don’t take me off Oggy  I’m buzzing’ I had to laugh so I did the only decent thing and subbed myself.

Question 5 – What is your least favourite Ruts Football Memory?

My least favourite memory would be very last Vets match we played before we folded as I had enjoyed playing and managing the lads so much. It was so good also to see so many players return for the final game ,Knotty, Woodsy  Harry ,Murph ,Butch , Caps,even Higgsy and I managed a cameo role, as well as the current players but good times have to come to a end sometime .

Question 6 – Best Player you ever played with for the Ruts?

There were so many great talented players and this was a tough choice. Young Whizzer, Trigger,,Newks,,Eggy, Gappy and Roland in Goal. As I spent most of my Ruts career in the Vets I’ve narrowed in down to them, plus Knotty who was cool and classy, Capper could play in any position and never let you down. Al Whiter arguably the best player to play for the Ruts. Howard Meredith was a terrific player too, so much so that I didn’t always enjoy playing alongside him, as when the Oppo Centre Forwards knew they weren’t getting any change out of H, so they would come and play next to me, hoping for more luck! All of this said – I’m going for a very talented player very quiet man, but a great lad, who never got less than 7 or 8 out of 10 each game and that is Kevin Butcher. He never let us down and sneaked the odd goal too.    

Question 7 – Favourite Goal you scored or were part of in the build up?

My best goal of the 20 that I scored – I can only remember 3! the last one I scored for the Ruts came in a Vets match v Sutton Athletic at Poplar Rd. It was only a scrambled goal from a corner but it was the week after my dad had passed away and I remember looking up to the sky thinking that’s for him as he followed me watching games when was I was younger, Next was goal from the half way line in the Semi Final I mentioned earlier, although this was a bit lucky to be fair, so I’ve picked a goal I scored at Abbey rec for the Reserves. I think Dan Poulter is the only other person to remember it. Again growing up at Abbey Rec I knew the pitch well , I think we were top or 2nd in league just before Xmas, at the time playing Merton Social, we were drawing 2 -2 with minutes remaining, their  Keeper took a goal kick which reached the half way line and Dan contested it in the air, I was right beside him and the ball fell invitingly just in front of me, so without thinking I thought ‘ave it’ and hit a perfect dipping half volley which sailed over the Keepers head and into the net to win the game for us. Unfortunately the wheels came off in second part of that season, but it was a goal to remember as even our opponents remarked it was a great goal.

Question 8 – Most embarrassing moment in a Ruts Shirt? (Playing or Socially)

This was probably playing for the Vets v Knollmead at Worcester Park. I was no spring chicken by now and I had recovered from a cruciate knee injury but their forward who Alan Whiter and Ed Reynolds knew well called Leon was like’s… off a shovel’ and he tore me to shreds it was then I really decided I can’t do this anymore so after being 3 -0 down (all my fault ) I decided to take myself off at half time though it was good managerial decision as I told Simon Minihane ‘right your as quick as him so stick to him’ and Minnie had a blinder, keeping Leon out of the match second half and he hit a 25 yd screamer to equalise for us! Another embarrassing moment was again late in my career, I went to take a free kick, I knew what I wanted to do, but my kick only reached about halfway – I had to laugh and think that’s it  I’m finally done now, although I enjoyed every minute playing for Old Ruts.