I often wondered what happened to Pete, the best footballer in our junior school. He always made the school team and had the grit and skill, to be a professional. He was popular, and a great joker.
The last time I saw him was in 1966. A Saturday afternoon, I was washing my old Ford Anglia as usual. Pete walked down our street on his way home from the Liverpool game. We hadn’t seen much of each other since the age of 12. He’d matured, was fit and suited, and looking older than our twenty-two years. ‘This yours,’ he said cheerfully patting my banger, and I felt at once that he was used to better wheels. He must have been, because he’d followed his dream and become a professional footballer, but to my amazement, in Canada. He was playing for Toronto Italia with excursions to play for teams in the USA. I listened spellbound to his adventures in North America. Unbelievable to a boy still in his home town.
While he confidentially talked of his new life. I recalled the shy side of him revealed in the school play. The curtains opened and on walked Pete. He took up his position on stage. We waited for his words but the minutes dragged on. I was confused it wasn’t supposed to be like that. We heard the teacher’s hushed prompts but his lines didn’t come. The hall was silent and my face began to burn as I realised, he was scared. Eventually the curtains closed. There was no ribbing or ridicule. We knew that Pete’s stage fright could have happened to any one of us.
I never saw him after that Saturday and news of American soccer seldom reaches our newspapers.
Now we have Google. I researched Pete to check some facts for this memoir and learnt that he’d spent the rest of his life in the USA. Until 1984 when three youths attempted to rob him outside his work place in Los Angeles. Pete didn’t take that lightly; he fought them, but was shot dead, at the age of 39.
Submitted by Ken Tracey, 75, Orpington