17 May ~ In WSC 102 we received this letter about a policeman making a fool of himself
Mention of half-time entertainments in WSC Nos 100 and 101 reminds me of one of the most memorable matches I ever watched.
It was November 1978, Southampton v Norwich City. At 3.45, an RAF dog handling display team began putting their animals through the usual series of dog-nastics, over walls, through burning hoops etc.
The announcer then explained that the gentleman now walking purposefully across the pitch carrying a briefcase was about to be attacked by a villain with a gun and that, having fired a couple of blanks and stolen the briefcase, the padded felon would be apprehended by our canine hero.
All went according to plan until the shots were fired, at which point a police sergeant who until then had been standing on the touchline with his back to the pitch, turned around and incomprehensibly assumed that these goings-on were for real.
That he responded as he did, running on to the pitch to arrest the culprit whilst calling to his colleagues to assist, was a tribute to his bravery, if not his powers of logical analysis.
Having realised his mistake our man's position on the touchline became completely untenable, but in order to leave the ground he had to walk the entire length and breadth of the pitch. He received a rousing cheer from each section of the crowd as he passed and ended up waving to the terraces.
After the game, I found the traffic at a nearby crossroads at a complete standstill. A policeman who had been inside the ground was telling the tale to a colleague who should have been controlling the traffic.
That he was incapable of carrying out this most basic of plod-type duties was due entirely to the fact that he was sat on the wall outside a pub, crying with laughter.
Sadly I do not know the name of the star performer, or if he ever volunteered for football duty again, but I think it is probably fair to assume that he will have been made to remember his performance for the rest of his days in the force.
Tim Manns, Doha, Qatar