The thing was, not all the Express team were veterans. Somebody had cut a deal with them whereby they had to field, perhaps, five veterans, and were then able to fill the rest of the team positions with younger players.
That said, we were not expecting to be overly stretched by the old stagers' outfit. Shortly after kick off, Veterans played the ball wide to a player who seemed to me dimly familiar. The dimness may have been partly to do with the fact that I wasn't wearing glasses. And partly to my dimness. But yes, dimly familiar. And as he blurred past me en route to the byline, the realisation grew sharp that I had just been passed by an icon. No mistaking him now. It was Lyndon Lynch (pictured below).
To most football followers, Lyndon Lynch may not be a name that rings familiar. However, more memories may be stirred if I mention that his nickname at the height of his brief fame was Bald Eagle – instituted at the tail end of his career, as it were, by, as I recall, the News of the World.
Lynch was then coming towards the end of a bright non-league career and playing for Bishop's Stortford FC, whose fortunes I followed as sports editor of the local paper, the Herts and Essex Observer. Stortford were only an Isthmian League team, but in 1981, shortly before Lynch arrived, they had gone all the way to Wembley, guided by the old head of former Arsenal and England forward John Radford, and won the FA Trophy under the managership of Trevor Harvey.
That was a great achievement, but it was Stortford's exploits a couple of seasons later, when they reached the serious part of the FA Cup in the 1982-1983 season, which earned Lynch his 15 minutes of tabloid fame. That, and his resemblance to the US world middleweight champion boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler (pictured below).
In the FA Cup second round, Bishop's Stortford beat fellow Isthmian Leaguers Slough Town 4-1 away, on a mud heap of a pitch, and Lynch's acceleration and predatory instinct earned him a hat-trick, albeit that his last shot trickled over the line at about one mile an hour and did not have the energy to reach the net.
The next morning, pictures of the Bald Eagle were being viewed at breakfast tables all over the land. In the third round, Stortford drew 2-2 at Middlesbrough, then in the Second Division under the managership of Malcolm Allison, but succumbed 2-1 at home despite another goal from the entirely bald and moustachioed figure of Lynch.
Almost thirty years on, I met up with Lynch this week at the Manchester Regional Arena, where he was managing the Great Britain Paralympic football side – who play a seven-a-side game adapted for athletes with cerebral palsy – in the BT Paralympic World Cup. He looks little changed – no moustache now; still bald.
He recalls the Stortford glory days with a smile, before confirming that – surprise surprise – the likes of Radford and his other team mates did not adapt the new News of the World monicker. (And while we're on that subject, nobody started calling the team "Bishops", as they were also described. They were "Stortford" and remain "Stortford".)
"I think partly the nickname came about because I had shaven my head, and that was more unusual in those days," Lynch said. "I did look a bit like Hagler, and he was in the news a lot at that time as he was about to fight a British boxer, Tony Sibson."
Lynch recalls his time at Stortford fondly, and recalls particularly the advice that Radford offered him. "He kept on at me to release the ball swiftly," Lynch recalled. "At that time, if you held onto the ball too long, you were likely to be hit hard by a tackle from behind.
"That kind of tackle is now illegal in the game. But when I talk to my players now I try to stress the same thing about moving the ball on swiftly. All the top teams in the Paralympics work hard at keeping possession and we have to do the same thing if we are to challenge them."
Even when he was playing for Stortford, Lynch was working as a PE teacher, and he is now the assistant head of a college in Leytonstone – David Beckham's "hood" and close to the Olympic Park where he and his Great Britain side will attempt to make an impression later this summer on the three medal favourites – Ukraine, Russia and Iran.
Lynch's players – who were suitably inspired in midweek when they strolled over to the neighbouring Etihad Stadium to meet Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad (pictured above) and watch them training – are moving steadily up the world rankings. If they can find themselves a place on the podium at this summer's Paralympic Games, it will be, for Lynch, an achievement to surpass even his Bald Eagle moments.
Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the past five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames. Rowbottom's Twitter feed can be accessed here.