The manager of the football team from one of the most prestigious regiments in the British Army “jumped” at the opportunity to face Oxhey Jets in their traditional Poppy Appeal match.

Sgt Craig Backhouse will bring a team from Coldstream Guards FC to the Boundary Stadium on Saturday, November 13 to take on the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side in the commemorative fixture.

This will be the fourth Remembrance game the club have staged in tribute to their former player Private Tom Lake, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2011.

This year’s occasion is set to have added poignancy because Pte Lake’s mother Carol is due to open a shelter for disabled spectators at the ground named in honour of her son, a week shy of the tenth anniversary of his death.

Jets had been due to face a combined team from the medical services in the fixture, but that fell through when their players were deployed on various duties.

Watford Observer:

Sgt Craig Backhouse 

Sgt Backhouse became aware the club were seeking opponents and he told the Watford Observer: “It tugged at my heartstrings because of the Royal British Legion affiliation and I just jumped at it.”

In addition to their team, the Guards will also be bringing a member of the corps of drums to sound the Last Post.

Jets general manager John Elliott said: “I don’t think some people realise it, but that’s really awesome because those boys are hard to get. The drummers are quite priceless to them and obviously on poppy weekend they are much sought after.

“It had to go to a one star general to get signed off. He (Sgt Backhouse) has literally jumped through hoops.”

Watford Observer:

A Coldstream Guards drummer

Sgt Backhouse praised the efforts of the Guards’ drum major for making this possible, explaining: “He’s really jumped out to assist because we’ve all got the chains to jump through to get the permissions to do this because it’s a civilian and military engagement.”

The Coldstream team will be drawn from its main battalion at Windsor and seven company, based at Wellington Barracks in London.

However, Sgt Backhouse admitted: “I’m concerned if I’m honest. The Jets are Step 5 (in the football pyramid), we’re not Step 5.

“Potentially the team on the day will be a stripped down side that we can put forward because the battalion is currently deployed in the Falklands and there will potentially be another deployment to Jamaica as well.

“It will strip back our numbers but we will have a team irrespective. We may get thumped, but we’ll give it a good shot with the players we’ve got available.”

Watford Observer:

The Coldstream Guards drummer will be joined by a piper and representatives of the Royal British Legion will parade their colours while the Union flag will be carried by RAF cadets.

The fixture will also see the presentation of the Garry Beadle Memorial Trophy. The former Jets player died in 2019, but the trophy will not be awarded to the winners.

“There should never be a winner and a loser in a game like this,” Mr Elliott said. “The winner is the poppy tin. What we’ve said is the trophy will only bear the names of the opponents. I’m quite insistent on that.”

Watford Observer:

The fixture has already raised thousands for the Poppy Appeal and the club’s founder, who believes it is becoming the biggest wreath laying event in Three Rivers, added: “I’ve said this before, but I don’t know how we can follow this. What can you do that’s actually bigger than getting the Queen’s guards down here?”