Category Archives: Football

Football Programmes of the Soviet Union (3)

Last time we were looking at Soviet football/soccer programmes for the top division, Division No 1. One or two more to look at. This  is “Спартак Москва” or Spartak Moscow, against “Зенит Ленинград” or “Zenit Leningrad”. Still a top team nowadays, “Spartak” was originally an international fitness and sports society and in Soviet times, was supported by the “Komsomol”. The latter was the “All-Union Leninist Young Communist League” or “Всесоюзный ленинский коммунистический союз молодёжи” abbreviated to” ВЛКСМ”. Despite all that, Spartak Moscow is today still considered to be “the people’s team:

This next programme has another famous team over the years in “Динамо Москва” or “Dynamo Moscow” who are playing “Спартак Орджоникидзе” or “Spartak Ordzhonikidze” on Saturday, April 25th 1970. The latter became “FC Spartak Vladikavkaz” in 1990 and then “Spartak-Alania Vladikavkaz” and then “Alania Vladikavkaz”. The club are still in Russia nowadays and they play in the North Ossetia–Alania region of the Caucasus:

They are based in Vladikavkaz, which in the days of the tsars was the frontier town of the Caucasus, a region which was very much the North West Frontier of the Russian Empire. All the dashing young officers would seek postings to Vladikavkaz, the one outpost of western ideas, surrounded by thousands of wild tribesmen:

Here are the team line ups and the team changes, written in by my friend, Oleg Soloviev, all those years ago, in a place as remote as you are likely to find. I presume he was there watching one of the teams before Zenit Leningrad had to play them, perhaps checking what their tactics were:

The Dynamo Moscow goalkeeper (No 1) was very famous. The Russian says “Лев Яшин” and the English is “Lev Yashin”. He always played dressed completely in black and was known as the “Black Octopus”. He was a legend in world football history and one evening, my Dad drove me to Leicester City to see them play Moscow Dynamo. Yashin didn’t play but they brought him out onto the pitch to wave at the crowd and he got a standing ovation. The Dynamo goalkeeper that night was the player below Yashin in the list. He was Vladimir Pilguy (Владимир Пильгуй).

My last top class Soviet programme is one that I actually bought myself on the day of the match in Leningrad. It was for Zenit Leningrad aka “Зенит Ленинград” against Nacional (Uruguay) aka “Насьональ (Уругвай)”, which was an international friendly match.  It was a beautiful sunny summer’s early evening, July 19th 1969, and Nacional won easily by 4-0. The Uruguayan national anthem was interminable, and when it finally finished, our school party thought both anthems had been played.

 

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Football Programmes of the Soviet Union (2)

The first programme today is another top football/soccer game, this time between “ЦСКА” and “Динамо Минск”. Don’t forget that the home team is always printed second on the front of the programme. It’s a politeness, a little like allowing a guest to go through the door first.

Many football fans will recognise the abbreviation above. bottom right,  as “CSKA”, which stands for the “Central Sports Club of the Army”. It’s rather like English clubs were often founded by a particular church or factory.

The opposition in this game was “Dynamo Minsk” a team which used to be in the USSR although the city is nowadays in Byelorussia and its club no longer plays top class football. A club founded, no doubt, by electricians, who are often a bunch of really bright sparks.

The Byelorussian Premier League is today so small that it contains even “СФК Слуцк” or “SFC Slutsk” whose ground can accommodate a mere 1,896 spectators. That’s the least of Minskian worries, though. Minsk has been invaded quite a few times. Indeed, one of the few bits of good news in the history of Minsk was that it somehow escaped the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan’s Mongols in 1237–1239.

Otherwise it took a battering from the troops of Tsar Alexei of Russia (1655), the army of Charles XII of Sweden (1708), the army of Peter the Great (1708), Napoleon (1812), the Red Army (1918), the Poles (1919), more Poles (1920), even more Poles (1920-1921) and the Germans (1941-1944). The latter barbarians took the population of Minsk from 300,000 down to 50,000.

Just up by the “ф” of “футбол” is a tiny diagram with a rather unclear picture, captioned “централный стадион”. I’ll leave you to work that one out, now you’re all mostly fluent with Russian letters. As a clue, the diagram looks pretty much like a “Central Stadium” to me.

The one thing that has always struck me about the few Russian football programmes I still have left  in my collection, fifty years after my friend, Oleg Soloviev, sent them to me, is that they speak of places so far away, so remote and so difficult to get to as to be beyond the reasonable expectations of most people. Many of them are from cities literally thousands of miles from where he lived in Leningrad (St Petersburg). This programme is from Tbilisi in Georgia, a mere 1400 miles from where Oleg lived:

The local team was Dynamo Tbilisi. The name is in the bottom left of the programme and is written “Динамо Тбилиси” with “Зенит Ленинград” in the bottom left corner, and also above the blue diagram of the two teams. In places like Georgia, everybody spoke Russian but the local language, Georgian, also appears. The top left, yellow rectangle has some good examples. In the bottom right is the diagram of the Tbilisi team with three interesting players. Number 6 is Khurtsilava, “Хурцилава”, and Number 8 is Metreveli, “Метревели”. Both of these two played in the Soviet Union team which came to England in 1966 for the World Cup and finished fourth in the world. At right back, No 2 is a famous Georgian name, “Дзодзуашвили”  or Dzodzuashvili, a man of complete and utter genius who ruled the USSR for 29 years, died, but still played First Division football a quarter of a century after his death. Still can’t place him? Well, here’s a clue.

This is another, more artistic, programme with the Georgian word for football or “футбол”.

Compared to the rest of the Russian programmes you have seen so far, this one is a riotous multicoloured festival of brightly coloured inks. Most of the rest of them have only four or five colours maximum. Still, at least you know the Georgian for “football”. The big question is, though, where in the blog post is the Georgian for “October” ?

 

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Football Programmes of the Soviet Union (1)

I wrote this blog post, and the others in this series, beginning on November 30th 2021. It does not indicate my favouring Russia over the Ukraine in the war currently being waged on the latter’s territory.

In any case, I have written about sport in the old Soviet Union in the late 1960s, not the situation today. Indeed, I would argue that Russia today is an infinitely worse country to deal with than the old Soviet Union used to be. The only situation I could compare present day Russia to would be the Germany of Hitler and Goebbels, where the population were hypnotised into believing what they were told to believe. Anyway, here we go…….

Three, perhaps four lifetimes ago, I was at school, at a country grammar school in west Leicestershire. From 13-17, I studied Russian there, a subject that I always loved. I was also a huge football/soccer fan, and accordingly, I had a collection of hundreds of football programmes. These are the little booklets that are on sale before the match with all the details of the teams, the fixtures to come, the top goalscorers in the league and so on.

Those two hobbies came together when I wrote a letter to a Russian First Division team who were then called Zenit Leningrad, asking them if anybody there would like to become my penfriend, and exchange football programmes with me. Here’s the team badge:

 

A little while later, I received a letter from a Russian gentleman who, just like me, was a lover of football and a programme collector. His name was Oleg Soloviev and his surname meant “nightingale” in Russian. The team used to play at what was then called the Kirov Stadium, a vast bowl with 100,000 seats.

I sent Oleg English and Scottish programmes and he sent me Soviet ones. I say “Soviet” because in those days many of the teams had Soviet names, as we shall see. Oleg was the man in charge of Zenit’s Youth Team and he travelled widely around the USSR in connection with his job. I still have some of the programmes he sent me, although only a small fraction. When I left home to go to my first job, my mother threw out my entire programme collection because I didn’t live there anymore. This type of action, which, incidentally, discarded well over a thousand pounds worth of footballing treasures, was by no means rare at this time and there were other young people I knew who suffered from it. It was all part of the “Bring ‘em up tough but with deeply rooted complexes” method of child care, so beautifully captured by Philip Larkin in this oh-so-true poem

One small difference from English programmes was that in the Soviet Union, the home team was always printed second. This is shown in this particular programme which is of a design used by Zenit Leningrad for a number of years. At the top is the word “футбол” or “football” and the next word is “стадион” which means “stadium”. Perhaps you can spot the name of the man that the stadium was named after, namely “Kirov” or “Кирова”.

Other recognisable things are the kick-off time at the bottom, namely 1600 hours and the day “21 июля” or “21 July” in the middle of the ball.

The teams are going to play a friendly match, the lower team is “Зенит Ленинград” aka “Zenit Leningrad” and the two word opponents are “Сборная” which is “international (team” and “Японин” or “Japan”.

The next programme concerns two teams which still exist nowadays. “Шахтëр Донетск” or “Shakhtyor Donetsk” versus “Зенит Ленинград” aka “Zenit Leningrad” . The game actually took place in the 27th year of the USSR Championship, 1965 (bottom), on April 21st (top right), at 1800 hours (bottom) .

Here are the two teams, both set out in a daring 4-2-4 formation. “Зенит“ obviously means “Zenith” and “Шахтëр” means a “coalminer”. Донетск /Donetsk is now in the Ukraine, in the Donbass region, famous for its coal and iron ore.

That same team of Shakhtyor Donetsk/”Donbass Coalminers” is the away team in the next encounter, against “СКА Ростов” which is “SKA Rostov” “SKA” stands for “Sports Klub of the Army”. Rostov is a very large city and the stadium hosted five games in the 2018 World Cup. This link will take you to some pictures of Rostov’s beautiful buildings.

The game kicked off at 1700 hours (bottom) on July 1st 1971 (middle left). The large yellow letters say “кубок СССР по футболу” which means “Cup of the USSR in football”. It is the 30th tournament (top left, with “30-й турнир”).  Underneath the big yellow letters it is revealed that the game is the “матч ¼ финал” or “quarter final match”.  Rostov, though, have never been a very successful cup team. Just under the right hand yellow pentagon it says “35-й кубковый матч СКА”. So, if this is Rostov’s 35th cup match, and the cup competition is now thirty years old, then they must have only ever won five cup ties.

 

 

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The Carvings in the Tower (3)

Last time, we met Richard Milnes who left the High School on the last day of the Summer Term, July 30th 1940. Further south, the Battle of Britain was about to reach its peak.

Neither he, nor his friends, when they carved their names and their message on a stone window sill  in the High School Tower would have known how the war would turn out.

The Germans were certainly well ahead so far. And to add to England’s troubles, the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose this day to give his firm promise that he would never ever send “our boys” to war.

I don’t know if it was a desire to leave something defiant that could not easily be wiped away, but Richard and his friends climbed up into the School Tower, the one that dominates the skyline of the city, and carved their names and their message on a stone window sill. It is still there today:

“The following were members

of the anti-parachutist squad

May 20-21, 1940 (being first to do so)

RA Palmer, JS Gibson, DJ Furley,

RM Gunther, RB Holroyd,

RV Milnes, R Mellor, JMT Saunders”.

JS Gibson worked in the Preparatory School from September 1938. He left in November 1941 and served, it is believed, in RAF ground crew, although these particular men are members of the RAAF:

By 1943, nine of the 32 members of staff had gone off to fight for their country. They were CH Beeby, AR Davis, JS Gibson, F Greener, WD Gregg, JS Hunter, KC Lewis, AR Pears and AW Thomas. All of them survived as far as I know. Mr Gibson left the RAF in 1945 but did not return to the High School.

Another member of the anti-parachutist squad, Robert Bernard Holroyd, lived at 4 Bonington Road in Mapperley:

Robert came to the High School on September 20th 1934 as Boy No 5844 and he left on February 11th 1941. He had passed his School Certificate in 1939.

In the OTC and the JTC he reached the rank of sergeant and passed his Certificate ‘A’. The latter attested the holder’s abilities in battle drill, command, including drill commands, drill, map reading, range work requiring a minimum score with .22 rifle and weapon training. The holder was considered “eligible for consideration for a commission” in the Territorial Army. In the first few months of the conflict, many holders of Certificate ‘A’ were also considered eminently capable of teaching conscripts how to march, salute, shoulder arms and so on:

Robert also attended the Air Cadets and became a Lance Corporal, a Corporal and then a Sergeant by 1940. In sport, he won his First XV Colours and was Captain of Rugby in 1940-1941:

He was “An enthusiastic  footballer whose keenness is an example. An accomplished hooker. Defence sound.”

At the School Sports Day in 1940, he was the “Victor Ludorum”, the best all round athlete. He was a good, enthusiastic rower and was awarded his “Blazer for Rowing”.

During the war, he became a Signalman in the Royal Corps of Signals. Let’s hope that he never exhibited the same levels of criminality as Reginald Lawson, the clergyman’s son, punished in 1911 for “signalling words of an indecent nature by semaphore”.

On May 23rd 1942, that Certificate ‘A’ paid off when Robert Bernard Holroyd was made a Second Lieutenant. He stayed in the forces after the war, because on May 3rd 1952 what had been an emergency commission as a Lieutenant was firmed up to a real commission. I have found out no more than that, and Lieutenant Holroyd can now walk off into history. Let’s hope he was happy and lived to be a hundred!

 

 

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November 14th 1960, Derby County 1 Norwich City 4

Apparently, when I was a baby and then a toddler, my Dad used to take me to see the local football team play. They were called Gresley Rovers, and their ground, the Moat Ground, was in Moat Street, Church Gresley, a little village in South Derbyshire. Here’s their stadium in 1972:

I don’t remember any of that, but I do remember my first match watching Derby County, a team who were in Division 2 at the time.

They used to play at the Baseball Ground, so-called because unsuccessful efforts had been made to introduce this popular American sport here around 1900. The stadium was surrounded by thousands of Victorian terraced houses. They’ve moved since then:

The game was on Monday, November 14th 1960. They were playing Norwich City, the Canaries, and so-called because they played in yellow shirts. This was the first step in a journey which I finally called a halt to in 1997, tired of my money being taken for very little worth watching.

I did a little bit of research about that Norwich game recently. The Derby team was:

Adlington, Barrowcliffe, Conwell, Mike Smith, Upton, Curry, Fagan, Swallow, Hutchinson, Parry, Hall.

I have not been able to trace the Norwich team, yet, although the Norwich manager was Archibald Macauley.

The game was a League Cup, third round game, and here is the cover of the programme:

Later, I wrote the score on the cover. Derby County gave me some sublime highs, but they certainly made you pay, both with your cash, but worse than that, with your hopes:

Inside the programme were the teams, with the players expected to play:

And here is the Norwich City team, with the players expected to play:

Nobody in these teams is famous nowadays, at least, not outside their own club. The programme contained pen-pictures of the visiting players. These three were selected as being typical of the fifteen or so in the programme. The thought to carry with you is that, for  John Richards,  Bobby Brennan or Derrick Lythgoe, this could have been the greatest moment of their lives:

There was a League Division 2 table, providing a check on how well the 22 clubs were doing:

The abbreviations Utd, A, O, T, T,C stand for “United”, “Argyle”, “Orient”, “Town”, “Town” and “City”.

The intervening 61 years have not treated all of the teams above very well. There were also lists of the leading goal scorers in each division.

Brian Clough, of Middlesbrough, would one day become manager of both Derby County and their local rivals, Nottingham Forest. He led them to unbelievable glories. Today, a statue has been put up to him in Nottingham:

The programme also contained the results of past matches that season.

And finally, there were the advertisements, often for rather strange things, given that the spectators had all gathered to watch a football match:

Although you might want to fly to Luxembourg after watching your team lose 4-1 !!

Now here’s a trip back in aviation history !

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“A long forgotten war, wasted young lives” (4)

Edward Archer Thurman was born on October 20th 1885. He was the younger brother of Arthur John Thurman, the Notts County footballer who had died in the Boer War at Boshof on May 30th 1900. The Boer War was fought from 1899-1902 in South Africa, fuelled by the British greed for the diamonds and gold discovered in the Boer states.

Edward’s elder brother, Arthur, though, was not killed in action. Like 23,000 others, he died of “enteric fever”, now known as typhoid.

The Thurman brothers’ father, Edward, though, turned out to be a much more difficult man to pin down. In the 1885 Directory there are two Edward Thurmans. One lived at the “White Lion” public house at 28 Hollow Stone, in the Lacemarket area of the city and the other had a chandler’s shop on Mansfield Road. In another 1885 Directory, Edward Thurman was a victualler at the White Horse in Barkergate. Or, he was a maltster in Sneinton Dale with a home in Barkergate, again in the Lacemarket.

A chandler makes or sells candles and other items such as soap. A victualler sells food, alcohol, and other beverages.

Edward Thurman junior entered the High School as Boy No 1460, on January 21st 1896, at the age of ten, and left at Midsummer 1901, along with DH Lawrence.  According to the School Register, the family was living in 6 Notintone Place in Sneinton, and the father worked as a maltster, an occupation defined as a “person whose occupation is making malt”. In actual fact, he turns grain into malt which is used to brew beer or to make whisky. His business premises were in Sneinton Dale, as the second 1885 directory stated.

Notintone Place, incidentally, was the birthplace of the founder of the Salvation Army, General William Booth:

According to the 1894-1899 Directories though, Edward Harrington Thurman lived at 26, rather than 6, Notintone Place. And yet another Edward Thurman was the manager at Gladstone Liberal Club at 20 St. Ann’s Well Road.

Like his brother, Arthur, Edward junior was an excellent footballer and played at least 32 times for the High School, scoring a minimum of 12 goals from midfield. He won his First Team Colours and the School Magazine, “The Forester”, said he was a player who “Dribbles well and passes unselfishly”.

His opponents during the 1899-1900 season were:

Lincoln Lindum Reserves (a) 0-3, Mr AG Francis’ XI (h) 3-5, Loughborough Grammar School (a) 1-2, Newark Grammar School (a) 5-2 (one goal), Mansfield Grammar School (a) 4-0, Magdala FC Second Team (a) 4-2, Mr Mayne’s XI (a) 5-2, Leicester Grammar School (a) 14-0, and Ratcliffe College (a) 4-1.

During the 1900-1901 season his opponents were

Mr AG Francis’ XI (h) 3-4, Insurance FC (h) 11-0, St Andrew’s Church Institute (h) 0-7, Mr AC Liddell’s XI (h) 1-2, Leicester Wyggeston School (h) 23-0 (three goals), Derby School (a) 8-0 (one goal), Newark Grammar School (h) 17-0 (two goals), Old Boys (h) 4-3 (one goal), Lincoln Lindum (h) 5-2, St Cuthbert’s College, Worksop (a) 2-1, Sheffield Wesley College (h) 1-4, Mr AC Liddell’s XI (h) 3-3, Mansfield Grammar School (h) 7-1 (one goal), Derby School (h) 8-1 (one goal), Loughborough Grammar School (h) 6-0 (one goal), Magdala FC (h) 0-2, Leicester Wyggeston School (a) 3-2, Magdala FC (a) 2-4, Mansfield Grammar School (a) 13-1 (one goal),University College (a) 2-3, Newark Grammar School (h) 12-0 (one goal), Nottingham Insurance FC (h) 4-2 and St Cuthbert’s College, Worksop (h) 2-0.

Edward was usually a No 7, a right winger, but he sometimes played as a No 8, an inside right. Lincoln Lindum would eventually become the professional club, Lincoln City.

In 1900-1901 Edward appeared in what was arguably the School’s best ever football team. Their record was 16 victories and two draws in 25 games with 145 goals scored and only 45 conceded.

Interestingly, in 1899-1900, Edward was in the Lower Fourth, the same form as DH Lawrence. Of the 39 boys, Lawrence finished fifth and Edward finished 36th of the 36 who sat their exams.

By now, the family had moved to No 2 Belvoir Terrace, which was in the same general area of Sneinton. By 1904 the family had returned to Castle Street. Mr and Mrs Thurman are believed to have spent their last years in Selby Lane in Keyworth.

Edward left Nottingham and went to work in Uttoxeter (always pronounced by the real locals as “Utchetter”, rather like ”Ilkeston” and “Ilson”).

He worked initially in the corn business as a clerk, although he eventually became a commercial traveller.

Despite such a good job, Edward joined up when the Great War broke out in 1914. Like his brother, Edward volunteered to preserve King, country and above all, democracy, the right to vote, enjoyed at the time by a massive 14% of the adult population. Edward was in the South Nottinghamshire Hussars and he was killed on December 3rd 1917 in Palestine. He was buried in Ramleh War Cemetery, not the only Old Nottinghamian lying there among almost six thousand casualties of war. News of Edward’s death was received in a way which is poignantly reminiscent of his brother, Arthur.

“He was for several years a member of the Uttoxeter Town Cricket Club, being popular with all who knew him. His many friends will be sorry to hear of his death.” He was 32 years old.

 

 

 

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In the Footsteps of the Valiant (Volume Three)

There must have been many people out there who thought that we were not going to publish any more volumes about the Old Nottinghamians of all ages who sacrificed their lives in the cause of freedom between 1939-1948.

But, while Covid-19 seized the world in its deadly grip, our work continued, albeit at a slower pace. And all those efforts have now ended with the publication of the third volume, detailing 24 of the High School’s casualties in World War II. Don’t think, incidentally, that we were running out of steam and had nothing to say. All five volumes have been deliberately constructed to contain the same amount of material as all of the others. And that material is all of the same quality.

This volume, therefore, portrays the families of these valiant young men, their houses, their years at school with Masters very different from those of today, their boyhood hobbies, their sporting triumphs and where they worked as young adults and the jobs they had. And all this is spiced with countless tales of the living Nottingham of yesteryear, a city so different from that of today. And as I have said before, “No tale is left untold. No anecdote is ignored.” Here are the teachers that many of them knew;

And as well, of course, you will find all the details of the conflicts in which they fought and how they met their deaths, the details of which were for the most part completely unknown until I carried out my groundbreaking research.

These were men who died on the Lancastria in the biggest naval disaster in British history or in the Channel Dash or in the Battle of the East coast when the Esk, the Express and the Ivanhoe all struck mines. Some died flying in Handley Page Hampdens, or Fairy Barracudas, or Hawker Hurricanes, or Avro Lancasters or Grumman Wildcats or even a North American O-47B. One casualty was murdered by a German agent who sabotaged the single engine of his army observation aircraft. One was shot by the occupant of a Japanese staff car who was attempting to run the gauntlet of “A” Company’s roadblock. One was the only son of the owner of a huge business that supported a small local town, employing thousands. When the owner retired, the factory had to close. He had no son to replace him. His son lay in a cemetery in Hanover after his aircraft was shot down. Thousands of jobs were lost. And all because of a few cannon shells from a German nightfighter. The work of a few split seconds.

They died in the Bay of Biscay, the Channel, the North Sea, Ceylon, Eire, Germany, Ijsselstein, Kuching, Normandy, Singapore, Tennessee. None of them knew that they were going to die for our freedoms. And certainly none of them knew where or when.

But they gave their lives without hesitation. And they do not deserve to be forgotten. That is why this book exists, and so does Volume One, and Volume Two and in due course, so will Volumes Four and Five.

We should never forget this little boy (right), playing the part of Madame Rémy, and killed in Normandy not long after D-Day:

We should not forget this rugby player, either, killed in a collision with a Vickers Wellington bomber.

We should not forget this young member of the Officers Training Corps (front row, on the left). A mid-upper gunner, he was killed in his Lancaster as he bombed Kassel, the home of at least one satellite camp of Dachau concentration camp:

We should not forget this young miscreant, either, mentioned in the Prefects’ Book for “Saturday, October 20th 1934. “Fletcher was beaten – well beaten.” By June 23rd 1944, though, he was dead, killed with twelve others when two Lancasters collided above their Lincolnshire base. He wanted to have a chicken farm after the war. Not a lot to ask for, but he didn’t get it:

We should not forget the Captain of the School, killed when HMS Express hit a German mine:

We should not forget the son of the US Consul in Nottingham, the highest ranked Old Nottinghamian killed in the war:

And we should not forget any of the others, wherever they may turn up. Killed by the Japanese in Singapore :

Killed in a road block firefight in Burma:

And this little boy, still years from being shot down on his 66th operational flight  by Helmut Rose, in his Bf109, German ace and holder of the Iron Cross First Class. And yes, that is the little boy’s Hawker Hurricane:

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The First XV player, proud of his fancy jacket:

A young man tricked into having to dress up as a young woman in “Twelfth Night”:

Two years later, getting a part  as “Jean, a veritable Hercules….a convincing rural chauffeur”, in “Dr Knock”. Except that all of your friends think that you have got the part of the village idiot:

And a very frightened village idiot at that.

 

Please note:

All three of the titles published in this series so far are on sale with both Amazon and Lulu.  All royalties will be given to two British forces charities, and if this is important to you, you will prefer to buy from Lulu. This will generate a lot more revenue.

For example,

If Volume 3 is bought through Amazon at full price, the charities will get £1.23 from each sale.
If Volume 3 is bought through Lulu, that rises to £9.48.

Incidentally, if you see the price of the book quoted in dollars, don’t worry. The people at Lulu periodically correct it to pounds sterling, but it then seems to revert to dollars after a few days, although nobody seems to know why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pictures from my past (1)

I don’t know how my memory works other than to say that, nowadays, for the most part, “It doesn’t”. That’s just a question of age, though, and the fault of some of my prescription medicines.

Some of my earliest memories are pictures. Pictures that somehow have remained in my mind for year after year, decade after decade. They come from many sources. Books and comics. Films and TV programmes and sport as well. And rather disconcertingly, as I have done the necessary research for these blog posts, many of my longstanding memories have actually proved to be rather false.

My earliest recollections come from the very few bubble gum cards that I had. In the late 1950s, a company called Chix did a very nice set of footballers, and I was captivated by the card depicting Jeff Whitefoot, whose name absolutely fascinated me. With all the cowboy  programmes we used to watch on TV at that time, I suspect that I came very close to believing that Jeff was a member of some obscure tribe of English Red Indians who lived in the Black Hills of Manchester:

The best example of what might be termed false or mistaken memory is the card showing a player called Cliff Holton. My recollection as an adult is that as a child I was fascinated by the strange colour of Holton’s shirt. He played for Northampton Town whose shirts were an unusual purple-very dark violet-maroony colour. But now, with the help of ebay, I have discovered that Chix only ever portrayed Holton as an Arsenal player, with an ordinary red Arsenal shirt. So, for what it’s worth, here’s Cliff Holton, that well known Arsenal centre forward. Let’s be generous to an eight year old, though. Perhaps some of the cards had a more purple tinge than others, especially when it came to those hooped socks:

Other distant images that have stayed with me include a few from a series of bubble gum cards which were rather snappily entitled “WHO-Z-AT STAR ?” . One card was of a young actor called Edmund Purdom, the star of “an adventure show” I used to watch entitled “Sword of Freedom”. It was not particularly popular in the industrial East Midlands of England. I suspect that it may have been too heavy handed an allegory of the Cold War and the Dirty Repressive Commies. The tights clad hero was “a maverick freedom fighter, prepared to die for his belief in a free society.” He was busy fighting “the tyrant who exercises control over 16th century Florence, the tyrannical Duke de Medici “.

Where I lived, within easy walking distance of at least half a dozen coal and clay mines it was pretty difficult to identify with “a city of poets and painters, wealth and marvels”. What I did like, though, was our hero’s rapier which looked as if the baddies were being stabbed by a yard long toothpick.

Here he is!

The same series provided a card depicting Conrad Phillips in the lead role of “William Tell”, complete with his rather strange sheepskin coat and crossbow. As a small child, I always felt rather unsettled because he never seemed to have proper sleeves in his coat, and I used to worry that he would catch cold, up there in those Swiss mountains:

Another card in the same series depicted Willoughby Goddard, who portrayed the gigantic Gessler, the villainous Austrian ruler of Switzerland. I was fascinated by the piece of information on the back of the card that when he went by airliner, he always had to buy three tickets for three seats to avoid crushing other passengers. At that time there was an incident in one episode that I didn’t understand at the time. William Tell had Gessler at his mercy, but let him go free. Tell’s little son asked his sheepskin clad Dad why he hadn’t got rid of the evil Gessler once and for all. Tell replied that there was a risk that if they ever killed Gessler, the Austrians might send somebody who was competent and then the Swiss would be in trouble:

Two puzzles to finish with. Which member of our family persuaded us all to watch “The Four Just Men”? an English TV series which was allocated its own card in the WHO-Z-AT STAR ?” collection.

How can the plot have been any more complicated ? The Four Just Men were Richard Conte, Dan Dailey, Jack Hawkins and Vittorio De Sica. Except for Jack Hawkins, I have no idea which one was which :

There were five assistants for the Four Just Men, played by Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore in Goldfinger), Lisa Gastoni, Andrew Keir (Professor Quatermass), Robert Rietti and June Thorburn :

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The list of guest stars in the series, though,  was simply amazing :

Judi Dench, Alan Bates, Leonard Sachs (Manuel), Patrick Troughton (Dr Who), Donald Pleasence (Blofeld), Richard Johnson, Ronald Howard (son of Leslie), Basil Dignam, Roger Delgado (The Master in Dr Who), Charles Gray (another Blofeld) and Frank Thornton (Captain Peacock) :

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Next time, the pictures I remember from my comics.

Meanwhile, fill the lonely hours with………..

 

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Filed under Film & TV, Football, History, Humour, Personal

What would you do ? (4) The Solution

Here’s the problem from last time:

And the correct solution given on page 2 of the comic is:

“The referee would rule “No goal”. The rules of the game state that the ball must be a certain weight (14-16 ounces). He would then restart the game with a bounced ball at the spot where it was last kicked. The ball would be bounced between two opposing players. “

First, a few words of explanation. 14-16 ounces is between 0.40-0.45 kilos or 340-397 grams. Nowadays a “bounce-up”, as it is popularly known, is no longer contested between two opposing players, because it was found that having two burly men face up to each other and then having a football dropped between them, tended to encourage the players to kick each other rather than the ball. With aching shins, they would then start a punch-up as they argued.

Nowadays, I suspect that the ball would be given to the player who last kicked it with no opponent involved, but I’m not totally 100% sure of that. The “burst ball” has happened a number of times in football history. You can find quite a surprising number if you just google “burst ball in cup final”.

The two most famous times for a burst ball were firstly in 1946 when Charlton reached the FA Cup Final, only to lose 4-1 to Derby County in extra time. When the Derby centre-forward, Jackie Stamps, shot for goal in the closing minutes of normal time, the ball burst en route to the back of the net. A week earlier, when the same sides had met in the League, the match ball had also burst then. Here’s the winning Derby County team, complete with directors, the most important people in any successful football team:

The odds on this bizarre event happening again must have seemed very unlikely, but the following year in 1947, in the first live televised FA Cup final, Charlton reached the Final again, this time beating Burnley by 1-0. And again the ball burst!  The theory at the time was that because of the war, the quality of the leather in the balls was not what it should have been.  Here’s Charlton, in their white and black change kit:

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What would you do ? (4) The Puzzle

“What would you do ?” used to figure on the cover of a boys’ comic called “Boys’ World”. This was a publication, obviously, aimed at boys and first appeared on January 26th 1963. There were 89 issues before the comic was merged with Eagle in 1964. The last issue of “Boys’ World” came out on October 3rd 1964.

I used to buy “Boys’ World”, and this was mainly for the front cover, which always featured a kind of puzzle. It was called “What would you do ?” and was based on somebody being in what Ned Flanders would call “A dilly of a pickle”. Here’s the situation:

The yellow box sets the scene, and the task is for you to solve the situation. Perhaps you might like to write your idea in the “Comments” section.

Here’s the yellow box enlarged:

What an unusual event. The centre forward shoots very powerfully, the goalie can’t stop it, and the brown leather ball sizzles into the net. Thousands of people are ecstatic. Their team has scored. But the referee has found some nits to pick. He saw the ball deflate in mid-air as it flew towards the goal. Will it be  a goal ? What will his decision be?

Depends on who the teams are, I suppose. The forward who has just had a shot is wearing a yellow shirt and white shorts. That’s an old Tottenham Hotspur away kit from the late 1960s. And the red and white stripes is Atletico de Madrid. No problem for the referee there then.

Incidentally, the yellow box’s infatuation with the orange arrow quickly diminished, and she soon parted from him. She realised that he was only after her puzzle setting skills and once she’d set the scene a few times for him, he left her high and dry in a cheap hotel room in Cromer:

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Filed under Football, History, Humour, Literature, Personal, Writing