WHO ARE YA? Chris Oakley, The Football Attic


1) Who are ya?

I’m Chris Oakley, 42, born in Barking, Essex but have been living in Ashburton, New Zealand since September 2012.

2) Who do you support?

West Ham United and England.

3) What was your first game?

The first game I ever went to see was West Ham v Orient on December 26th, 1980. West Ham won 3-1, if memory serves…

4) What do you do for a job?

I was a Web Editor until very recently, however I’ve been made redundant so if anyone’s looking for someone to edit their website, get in touch! (GM – sorry to here that, Chris)

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

No, never, sadly…

6) How did you get into it?


7) What do you get out of it?


8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

It depends what footsteps you’re referring to! If you mean the steps I’ve taken to be a blogger and podcaster of some eight years (GM – yes), I’d say pick a topic you genuinely have a lot of passion for, don’t be afraid to choose one that’s slight or obscure as you could end up being seen as an expert on the subject, and don’t put yourself under any unnecessary pressures or constraints. Enjoy what you do and enjoy it for what it is!

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Again, if you mean blogging and podcasting, I don’t think I’d change anything. I’ve worked with some amazing people, enjoyed myself immensely and that’s how I hope things will continue.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Trevor Brooking, of West Ham and England.

He was a universally admired person, on and off the pitch. The grace and skill he had as a player was amazing and I used to love watching him. Not only that, but he was born in Barking like me, so he’s our local hero too!

Many thanks, Chris. All the best with finding a new job.

You should already be a fan of the terrific Football Attic, but if you’ve never seen it before you can read it here – thefootballattic.blogspot.co.uk



The Invacar

Parked up on the perimeter track between the pitch and the stands, the Thundersley Invacar was once ubiquitous at any football game, and the little pale blue three-wheeler often graced the screen during The Big Match.

The Invacar had to be carefully driven through one of the ground corner gaps, between two adjacent stands, and park up pitchside prior to kickoff. From there, disabled fans had the best vantage point, with only the linesman and refreshment seller’s mobile trolley (“Sweeeeets! Hot drinks! Cold drinkssss”) to obscure the action on the pitch. They could even drive round the track to swap sides at half time!

The original Invacar was invented in 1948, when Bert Greeves adapted a motorbike with the help of his paralysed cousin, Derry Preston-Cobb, in order to help Derry get about. Due to the high number of debilitated former servicemen in the post-war period they spotted a commercial opportunity and approached the UK government for support, which lead to the creation of Invacar Ltd.

Invacar was not the only company contracted by the Ministry of Health to produce three-wheeled vehicles for disabled drivers. Others included Harding, Dingwall & Son, AC Cars, Barrett, Tippen & Son, the titular Thundersley and Coventry Climax (steady on!).

All Invacars were owned by the government and leased to disabled drivers as part of their disability benefit. With a 500cc engine capable of a reputed top speed of 82 mph (dubious, as they were usually doing no more than 5mph whenever I saw one), the fibreglass shelled and pale-blue coloured Invacar was produced in the tens of thousands until the final DHSS contract came to an end in 1977.

Sir Bert Massie, a governor for the modern day accessible car scheme Motability, explains that those in charge didn’t think of it as a service that gave you independence through motor vehicle ownership:

“The government didn’t see these as cars… they saw them as a prosthetic. There was a strange logic to their thinking. They saw the role of the NHS as being there to get you mobile. If you were not disabled, you’d be doing that with your legs. So, if you were disabled, and couldn’t do that, they gave you a one-person invalid carriage as a leg replacement to get you from A to B.”

Prone to blowing over in moderate winds, and catching fire, both necessitating swift rescue of the occupant by passing good Samaritan drivers; Invacars were banned from British roads in 2003 on safety grounds. Usage had declined anyway, as the nascent Motability scheme offering disabled drivers a conventional car with modified options was a far better deal. The Invacar would never again be seen at the match.

Calls to make a Subbuteo model Invacar have so far gone unheeded.


Collapsed Lung – ‘Thundersley Invacar’

As an aside, early 90s brit-rap grebo combo Collapsed Lung, of ‘Eat My Goal’ fame, released a single called ‘Thundersley Invacar’ in “tribute” to the vehicle.