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|HURST WILL BE ROOTING FOR A SUDBURY WIN
England's 1966 World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst MBE will be rooting for AFC Sudbury in the final of the FA Vase, in partnership with Carlsberg.
Sir Geoff's father Charlie was player-manager of Sudbury Town, which went on to merge with Sudbury Wanderers to become AFC Sudbury.
As AFC Sudbury prepared for the final of the FA Vase, Sir Geoff recalled following the team as a youngster when his father was in charge during the 1950/51 season.
In fact, it was whilst supporting Sudbury Town that he took one of his first team baths.
At the age of 10, he accidentally fell into the players' bath after Sudbury Town had played Crittalls Athletic.
Sir Geoff revealed: "I can remember feeling a bit wet - and a bit of an idiot!"
Ken Smith, who played alongside Charlie, recalled that the accidental dunking was not the only incident involving young Geoff that day. He said: "We picked Charlie and one or two of the other players from the Chelmsford area up at a café to go to Braintree for the game.
"When we got to the ground, they suddenly realised that Geoff wasn't there so the coach driver had to go off and find him. He'd been left behind at the café.
"He brought Geoff back and took him into the dressing room at half-time so Charlie knew he was okay.
"After the match, Geoff came into the dressing room and stepped straight into the sunken bath fully-dressed. He had to go home in the goalkeeper's jersey and shorts."
Charlie enjoyed a successful season with Sudbury Town, taking them to third spot in the Essex and Suffolk Border League and to the final of the Suffolk Senior Cup at Portman Road where they lost to Stowmarket.
The left-half had played professionally for Bristol Rovers, Oldham Athletic, and Rochdale before moving to Chelmsford City and subsequently Sudbury Town.
Seventy-eight-year-old Ken, who played left-back for Sudbury Town for about 15 seasons, said: "Charlie wasn't a particularly tall chap but he was very good in the air and very enthusiastic.
"He was an inspirational leader and a very nice chap. We all looked up to him because he had played at a higher level."
John Chaplin, author of The History of Sudbury Town, said: "I remember Geoff coming to the games with his father, but obviously no-one knew he was going to become so famous."
Charlie went on to manage nearby Halstead Town where Sir Geoff played once for the reserves at the age of about 14.
Sir Geoff recalled: "I remember playing on the right-wing and being kept out of the way because I was only a youngster."
Eventually, Sir Geoff moved from Chelmsford to West Ham where he went on to enjoy a distinguished career - winning the FA Cup in 1964 and the European Cup Winners Cup the following season.
Although he made his name with the Hammers, Sir Geoff is best remembered for scoring a hat-trick in England's World Cup win of 1966.
Sir Geoff says his father, who passed away a few years ago, had a great part to play in his success on the pitch.
He said: "My father had a huge influence on my career. He was my hero.
"He used to spend a lot of time with me in the back garden of our home in Chelmsford, in particular teaching me to kick with my left foot which obviously paid off in the World Cup."
He says his father would have been thrilled to see AFC Sudbury reach the final of The FA Vase, especially as it is being played at West Ham United.
The Jewson Eastern Counties Premier League champions are hoping to make it a league and cup double when they take on Brigg Town in the final on Saturday, May 10, kick-off 3pm.
The Northern Counties East League Premier Division side will be hoping to take the FA Vase back to North Lincolnshire for a second time, having won it in 1996.
Sir Geoff said: "It's their FA Cup and they will get as much enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfilment from playing in the final as the pros get from playing in The FA Cup final.
"There's no difference in the feeling of elation and success if they win or disappointment if they lose."
Sir Geoff hopes AFC Sudbury can go on to win the FA Vase, 14 years after Sudbury Town suffered the heartache of losing in the final to Tamworth FC in a replay. He said: "It's fantastic for them to be in the final. West Ham is a great stadium and I am sure there will be a terrific atmosphere there. I would like to wish them all the best.
"The most important thing is for them to enjoy it and take in everything on the day - and just give it their best shot."
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