Eagle Comic (3)

Last time we were trying very hard to get the Ovaltineys song out of our heads. I was trying to make the point that Dan Dare was not the only character in the comic:

Eagle had sporting personalities. I have even written myself about the first one ever to appear:

There was cricket coaching, and, thirty years before its time, and in a largely all white society, it was presented by a black man, Leary Constantine, a cricketer who achieved more in his life than most of  us do:

There were features about how to make models:

There were two written serials with solid text rather than just pictures. “Plot against the World” was the first ever to appear:

There was a half page about road safety. It was presented by Billy Steel, the famous Derby County footballer of the day:

During the 1950s lots and lots of children would be killed on the roads, because the drivers in England knew very little about how to drive safely and the children of England, accustomed to just a couple of cars a day going past, had very little road sense. Around 1963, a little boy in our class called Nigel Sparrow was killed by a car as he cycled along country lanes looking for bluebells for his mother. He was in hospital for two weeks or so before he passed away. We prayed for him every day in our school assembly but it was all in vain. He succumbed to his injuries and died. That was the first time I ever had any serious doubts about the religion I had been given. I think about Nigel regularly, poor little boy.

Billy Steel offered a lot of very good advice:

He offered advice a lot better than he played football for Derby County.

Years ago, I actually wrote about him, but only in the context of my Dad, Fred, who thought he was “a right twerp”:

“As regards football players, in the late 1940s, Fred was always less than impressed by Derby’s then record signing, a young man they bought as they attempted to stop their slow but inexorable slide out of the First Division. This was a handsome young forward called Billy Steel, whose dark tousled hair was, for Fred, his best, and probably only, positive feature. Fred was just unable to stomach how Steel would miss an easy chance to score a goal, and then merely laugh about it as if it were nothing important.”

Next time, the other features that made Eagle the best selling comic in English history:



Filed under Aviation, Derby County, Film & TV, Football, History, Literature, Personal, Science, Writing

16 responses to “Eagle Comic (3)

  1. Excellent memory prompts, John. It might have been still in the 40s when we had a classmate die. We prayed for her parents every time we passed her house on the bus to and from school

    • Thank you, Derrick. My hope is that even the people who have never heard of Eagle will think back to their own comics, After all, there must have been comics in Australia and all the other parts of the Commonwealth.
      Nine year old Nigel Sparrow was the first chink in my religious beliefs. He was a terribly shy and quiet boy who would never have hurt a fly. Had it been one of the naughtiest boys, I might have understood it better, although I know now that thinking in that way would have been very wrong.

  2. It seems we could use this for the kids today!

    • I do despair for the future in our country at least. Little kids of three and four are sent to school wearing diapers, as you’d call them, because they have not been trained properly. At the other end of the spectrum, the Medical Schools announced that they could not find students with the manual dexterity to be surgeons, because they’d apparently never done any handicrafts as kids, never made a model kit, never sewn a dress, never made a Mother’s Day card and so on. And thanks to mobile phones, most kids cannot hold a conversation or even look at the world around them.

  3. Great memories. I doubt that modern T20 cricketers have taken much advice from Leary Constantine!

  4. Within the last six months or so, the BBC, possibly BBC4, made a programme about the black cricketers of the late 1950s and early 1960s, They came to play as professionals in the Lancashire Leagues and, put simply, everybody loved them, and they loved the people of Lancashire. Sir Leary is dead now, but they interviewed his daughter, who confirmed events. Wes Hall, if you remember him, used to come over every season, and in fact, still visits Accrington nearly every year.
    I used to love the West Indians of that period with their exotic names like Basil Butcher, Seymour Nurse, Rohan Kanhai and so on. None of them ever went on trial for drunken affray or any of the 101 sad episodes our modern superstars have been involved in.

  5. I remember the green cross code man who I seem to remember was charged with some child offences (I may be totally wrong about that for which I’m sorry!). It was however good advice and ran for years helping children cross the road. I totally agree with your comment too about children not have the dexterity for work. They don’t make things, even cutting a straight line is hard for some. The future is bleak and these are the ones who will be looking after us in our old age – very worrying indeed!

    • Google doesn’t reveal any child offences, but I have the vaguest of memories of that kind of thing being on the news.
      As kids we used to do all kinds of activities which would have developed our dexterity. Everybody had a penknife back then and, fighting off the desire to be in a drug gang, we used them to carve hoops and stripes on broken off branches of elm bushes. We also developed our knife throwing abilities with a good game of “split the kipper”. If you played that now, you’d be in care by teatime.

  6. Oh to have something that tragic to happen to you, John, at such a young and tender age. These comics could still come in handy teaching the young and foolish how to be careful on busy roads. Thank you for another post full of information I had no idea about.

    • My pleasure, Amy. One of the worst aspects of being a life long teacher is the number of boys who were lost over the years to accident, illness and suicide. You never imagine that anybody you teach will not make it through to a happy old age, but not everybody is that lucky, sadly.

  7. I’m pretty sure that I did see a few comics like this because I can remember that Leary Constantine Batting guide. Maybe there was an Aussie version.

    • I suspect that they probably sold the same comic in Australia. After all there were a lot of recently arrived English people in Australia at that time, the age of “Emigrate to Australia for £10”.

  8. Chris Waller

    I didn’t realise just how much of the content of the Eagle I had forgotten. I remember Dan Dare (and The Mekon!) and, of course, the cutaway drawings which so fascinated me. You reminded me also of Nigel Sparrow. I can still see him in my mind’s eye. I had all but erased that event from my memory. I share also your concerns about the lack of basic skills in the young. Local infants’ schools despair at the number of children who arrive unable to hold a pencil and whose speech is poor because they and their parents spend so much time interacting only with their mobile ‘phones.

    • Absolutely, and there are so many too who turn up in nappies expecting the teacher or the class assistant to sort out the problem. One of my daughter’s friends took up teaching but didn’t last the first day in a junior school in Leeds. She refused to do the thousand and one things that teachers have to do today, and all for 20K a year and constantly being monitored. The number who quit in the first few years is absolutely alarming.

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