Three Enfield Town fans missed their side’s 2-1 reverse at Lowestoft Town in the Ryman League’s top flight on Saturday to mark one of football’s tragedies.
Instead, the Towners travelled to Solihull to take part in a special rededication of Midland Football League Highgate United’s main stand in honour of Tony Allden, the centre-half who was struck by lightning when his side met the old Enfield in the quarter-finals of the FA Amateur Cup 50 years ago to the day on February 25 1967.
More than 250 people turned out to see the player’s widow Sue and sister Christine unveil the newly named ‘The Tony Allden Stand’ before Highgate hosted Long Eaton.
Led by Roger Green, who laid a wreath alongside Highgate’s on behalf of the Ryman Premier club in memory of the defender who passed away the next day in hospital, the trio were among more than 2,000 fans who’d packed into the then Worcestershire Combination club’s home five decades ago before witnessing the tragic events.
Two other players, brothers Eric and Roy Taylor, pictured today at the ground being filmed for a BBC documentary to mark the anniversary, also collapsed with shock on the pitch after the fatal lightning strike at 3.27pm and were rushed to hospital with their pal.
A spokesman for The Gates paid tribute to the Towners contingent in a statement on Monday: “Roger and two other friends had made the journey from Enfield to The Coppice as they did exactly 50 years ago to the day to pay tribute, in what I can only describe as a truly remarkable act, one that deservedly earned many plaudits from everyone associated with Highgate. And we have now found ourselves three new honorary friends.”
Because of the media attention generated by the tragedy, the replay drew a crowd of over 30,000, forcing its move away from Highgate’s Tythebarn Lane to the larger Villa Park where Enfield won 6-0 before going on to lift the cup that season by beating Skelmersdale United in a final reply at Manchester City’s old Maine Road ground.