As Craig Lyle made his 750th Appearance for the Club last weekend we thought it would be good to reflect back on some of his memories!!!
I think his appearances have spread across some 27 Seasons!
Q & A Below.
1 – First match
Toward the end of the 1991-92 season after the annual Ruts v School game I was encouraged to play for the club. My first game was aged 16 and up front for the Reserves away to Kingston Albion. We were 4-1 down at half time but came back to win 5-4 and I scored a goal. After that performance and the realisation that I could drink cheap beer at the club under age, I was hooked!
2 – Best match
I think it has to be the League Cup Final replay in 1998 where the 1st XI beat Addington at Croydon Athletic on penalties. Leading 1-0 the game descended into a farce with the Addo support throwing a range of items from chips to pints of beer over any Ruts player near the touchline. Two Addington players were dismissed during the game – one for throwing a punch at the ref! After a late equaliser, extra time passed and the penalty shoot-out followed. Even then, opposition supporters took to throwing lumps of concrete at Ruts players as they took their penalties. Thankfully we held our nerve and won the shoot out and with the exception of Gappy and Wally who stayed for a beer with the trophy, the rest of the team made a quick exit from the ground!
3 – Best Goal
Despite scoring nearly 90 goals for the Ruts it has been so long since I hit the back of the net that I can’t really remember many of them! Perhaps the best goal I scored was for the Vets at home (the most recent goal) in the 2013-14 season. I believe Dan Poulter was refereeing the game that day. The ball came to me about 30 yards out and I decided to hit it first time. I remember some of the players groaning as, like me, they thought it would sail high and wide. However, much to everyone’s surprise including mine it nestled in the top right-hand corner of the net!
4 – Worst match
Been a few, but one that stands out was when playing for the first team at home (I don’t remember who against) but cable TV (Channel 17?) were there to film the game. I was playing full back as I went to clear the ball the oppo forward bundled me and the ball over the gaol line. Clearly a foul but the ref let the goal stand and when they showed the game on TV they kept replaying the incident in slow motion.
5 – Best save
2015-16 season when the 3rd XI won promotion. The penultimate game against Westside A. Having dropped myself for the previous game, I was back in the team and keen to impress. Ollie Hicks scored for us and thankfully, for once in my life as a goalkeeper, everything that was hit at me stayed out. The best save of the lot was when the ball was crossed to the forward who had a clear shot and I gambled at the near post and managed to palm the ball away from close range. I also saved a penalty in the game and kept a clean sheet. That 1-0 win prevented them from catching us and set us up nicely for the final game against Shaftsbury at Poplar Road where we drew 1-1, won the league and I broke my ankle!
6 – Favourite memory
Has to be the 3rd XI Surrey Cup Win v Weston Green in May 2005 (2-1). Call me smug but it was an even sweeter victory seeing the oppo turn up in matching black shirts and white ties before the game and watching them lose the plot during the game (with two red cards) when it became clear they weren’t going to win. Excellent performance coming from a goal down – with our goals coming from a smart finish from Erol Yilmaz just before he had his leg broken in a nasty challenge and the extra time winner from a Simon Minihane header after an pinpoint cross from Darren Knott. To date this is the club’s only Surrey Cup victory.
7 – Best Manager played for
Fred Jupp as he gave me a run in the 1st XI even though it was wing-back!! Also playing for Erol Yilmaz, in the 3rd XI as he has provided so much comedy over the years, and been successful on numerous occasions with league and cup wins. Being his friend and carer (at the weekend) has its benefits he often still picks me even when my performances don’t warrant it! Thankfully for me, not many people want to play in goal.
8 – Best Football Social Night
This would have to be the Friday night of the Prague tour in June 2016. This has been my only tour to date. I took a gamble recommending a 1980s video club, but having all 24 of the touring party on the stage taking advantage of the cheap alcohol and dancing away was a sight to behold – especially with Higgy and Wally leading the way.