This week, a video appeared on my Facebook timeline which featured some karaoke. I refrain from adding the word “singing” because the “singer” was the late, great Ben Hiscox AKA Sir Dennis Cox. I understand the video was taken whilst the great man was on a tour with his beloved Bristol Manor Farm FC. I think a drink may have been involved. From the quality of karaoke involved, I really hope it was, or else there could be no sensible explanation.
The video gave me one of those “oh no” moments. A very funny “oh no” moment, it must be said, because it was Ben. That man, my best friend, and everyone else’s best friend; he had me laughing again. Later in the week, he had a room cheering to the rafters. Bristol Post Footballer of the Year: Ben Hiscox.
Of course it had to be Ben. There were some very worthy contenders in the list and I am sorry that they did not win this year. They can rest assured that their time may come again. For Ben, his family and friends, the football club he loved so much, the village in which he lived, this was another gift. I am told the spirit of Ben was everywhere in the room when he won the Post award, so powerful that you could almost touch it. Only someone with a heart of stone could not have felt it, but in our village, in our community and, particularly in the world of football, no one has a heart of stone when it comes to Sir Dennis Cox.
If you are wondering about the validity of the award, then don’t. You will remember that after Ben’s passing, Stoke Gifford went on to win the Bristol and Suburban League, an achievement beyond most things I have ever seen in football. When I asked his team mates, close friends to a man, they all said that if Ben had still been around, the title would have been wrapped up many weeks before. And even then, there was humour. Ben had a habit of scoring bad goals, except that there is no such thing as a bad goal in football. Scuffs into the wrong corner, the ball bouncing in off his knee, or worse, his backside. This is what great players do, this was what Ben Hiscox did and boy did we let him know about it!
I pass Ben’s seat on the village green every single day and not once, not ever, do I not think of Ben. Behind it is the beautiful apple blossom tree, always adorned by flowers and messages. Sometimes I sit there to while away the time, other times I just cast a glance across and the memories come flooding back. Sometimes I see young people, late at night, sitting on the seat, just as the mischievous young Ben might have done, quite possibly not having any idea what the seat represents. That doesn’t matter. They will probably know, soon enough, and even if they don’t they will be part of this village.
Another week of memories, of swinging emotions, reminders of a life well lived, a community as one, a love that can never die, the spirit of Ben Hiscox.