The End of the War in Europe and Church Gresley (5)

A few days after I finished writing this blog post, I was wandering across the Internet when I came across an auction webpage called “The Saleroom” which featured a copy of my programme but in much, much, better condition:

The programme had no autographs but did have some team changes written on it, in pencil, of course:

The first one revealed that the RAF goalkeeper may not have been Corporal Timms but “Hardwick England”

I have taken this to refer to Ken Hardwick who played for Rossington Colliery, Doncaster Rovers (308 appearances), Scunthorpe United (96 appearances) and Barrow (12 appearances). He never played for England but he did suffer one of the cruellest and shameful things ever experienced by a footballer. It occurred in a letter which he received out of the blue about an England appearance. In 1955, he was invited by the FA to play for England, but it was for the Under 23 team and George was, by then, 30 years old. Well, done the Football Association, always with their eye on the ball! Here’s Ken, in his younger days:

Alternatively, the best fit for “Hardwick England” might conceivably be George Hardwick of Middlesbrough and Oldham. He had 13 England caps, some as captain, but he was a left full back, rather than a goalkeeper. Here he is, on a cigarette card which he has autographed in later life:

It’s difficult to imagine, though, that Griffiths of Manchester City would not have changed position to accommodate somebody as important as George Hardwick, ex-Captain of England. Having said that, most professional outfield players would be able to play as goalkeeper in a charity game without too many problems. Perhaps George was just amused by the idea, so he had a go in the atmosphere of universal happiness that must have been in the air for all of that First Day of Peace in Europe.

In actual fact, George Hardwick was considered Middlesbrough’s greatest ever player and they have a statue of him outside their stadium:

Near “Thompson” something has been written and it appears to me to be “Hall Spurs”:

This may be Albert E B. Hall, an outside right, who, between 1935-1947, had appeared 81 times for Tottenham Hotspur, or Spurs, as they are better known by their fans, scoring 22 goals.

It may be Fred W. Hall who appeared 23 times  between 1944-1946.

It may be G Willie Hall, an inside right who managed 376 appearances, with 45 goals scored, between 1932-1944. He was actually a fairly local man, born in Newark in Nottinghamshire.

It may have been Jack Hall. This is the least likely because all of Jack’s 67 appearances between 1936-1946 came as a goalkeeper.

Overall though, this is a singular lesson in the value of including an initial!

Near ‘Chapman’ there is something written. If this programme was ever owned by a little boy, the little boyish handwriting says “lost 4-7” but this is far from definite in my mind. Other figures are written in near both Carter and Doherty but I really don’t know what they are:

What I need, of course, is a newspaper report, but that’s easier said than done!

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10 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, Derby County, Football, History, Personal

10 responses to “The End of the War in Europe and Church Gresley (5)

  1. At least Ken had his eye on the ball

  2. Oh my goodness that George Hardwick was certainly a looker. A dandy if you will? I can only imagine the effect he had on the female population. Another great story, John! Thank you!

    • I must confess, I had never thought of George Hardwick in those terms, but now you mention it, I suppose he does have a little of the Clark Gable look about him. With the wages he earned back then though, designer clothes and fast sports cars were certainly out of the question. Most of the players then had ambitions that extended just to a nice house and a modest car.
      And thank you for your kind words, they are much appreciated.

  3. What a challenge it is to find the answer to these questions, and how interesting it is to find another copy of the same programme! (Thanks very much by the way for the heads up in my post, much appreciated John!).

    • No problem!
      I think the only way to trace events of this type would be to join a pay-site which has old newspapers and trust to luck that there had been a journalist present on the day. I suppose that the other side of the coin is the fact that with the internet I now have access to all kinds of facts that the people back then were completely unaware of.
      From my own researches, I know, for example, that lots of parents had no idea whatsoever of how or even where, their son died during the war. One poor mother and father believed to their dying day that he was killed on a landing craft as it approached one of the D-Day beaches, but the carefully hidden truth was that he was killed just off Portsmouth in an accident when somebody who shouldn’t ever have been allowed to drive a battleship at night managed to sink two or three unsuspecting landing craft.
      And that is far from unique sadly.

      • Instances like that raise many questions of morality, do we tell them (if they are alive) or hide the truth and let them believe their sons / daughters are a hero who died gallantly in battle – not an easy one to answer!

        REPLY I hadn’t thought of that, to be honest. In the case of the landing craft, a wreath laying ceremony was held off Portsmouth, attended by a good few relatives. They seemed glad to know the truth at last, but for the most part they were nephews, nieces and fairly distant relatives who had never known Uncle Jack. Perhaps his father and mother might have died happier with the legend rather than the truth, if I can put it that way.

  4. fantastic put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the other specialists of this sector don’t realize this.
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