Category Archives: Personal

The End of the War in Europe and Church Gresley (2)

Last time I talked about an old single sheet football programme. It was for a match played literally one day after the war ended in Europe, on May 9th 1945. The programme was for “Gresley Rovers (Selected) v RAF”.  The top two stars in the RAF team were Raich Carter and Peter Doherty, both highly rated international players of the era, the equivalents, perhaps, of a younger Steven Gerrard and an older Kevin de Bruyne:


Here are Sergeant Carter and Flight Sergeant Doherty on the programme which is quite tatty, but does contain a large number of autographs in pencil. This is what pushed the price up at auction. Here is the RAF attack, if I can use that phrase:

I have been unable to trace either Sergeant Wilder of Tranmere Rovers or Sergeant Thompson of Bolton Wanderers. Sergeant Jim Durnie may be the Jim Durnie who moved from Annbank United Junior Football Club to Glasgow Rangers but I have not been able to find any dates for this, so I am not totally certain.  Glasgow Rangers were a huge team at the time. Here is their massive stadium, Ibrox:

On this second picture, of the RAF defence, there are autographs for Messrs Griffiths, Horner and McDowell, but not for the rest:

Flight Sergeant Griffiths’ club has been altered to Manchester United and there is another autograph in a blueish colour reading diagonally towards the top right corner. I think it begins with George and the surname may be Hardemer or Vardemer or something very vaguely like it. It may even be George Hardwick. Of him, more later.

All in all, I have had very little luck with my detective work for this section. I have been unable to find anything for either Downing, Horner or McDowell.

Flight Sergeant Griffiths is the Jack Griffiths who played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bolton Wanderers, and Manchester United during the 1930s. His football career came to an end because of the Second World War, but he played 58 times for United during the war and also guested for Derby County, Notts County, Port Vale, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion. After the RAF he became player-coach of Hyde United. Here he is, frozen in time on an old cigarette card:

Sergeant Wright is unlikely to be Billy Wright, the England captain, because he was in the Army at the time, but it cannot be completely excluded if the team were short of RAF players. Here he is, practicing for his meeting with Puskás in seven years’ time:

Timms, the goalkeeper, I could not trace beyond the guess that he may be the W Timms who played only five times for Gresley Rovers, making his début against Bolsover Colliery in the Derbyshire Divisional Cup Final on April 8th 1939 (lost 0-5). His fifth and final game came, amazingly, just 14 days later against Quorn Methodists on the 22nd (won 5-0). “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”, as you might say!

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

Victor Comic and me (1)

When I was just a lad in the early 1960s, I read comics at every opportunity.
To be honest, I eventually decided that a comic with only pictures in it was too quickly consumed and for that reason it didn’t give a great deal of value for money. Eventually therefore, I settled on “Wizard” as my comic of choice, because it had only text stories inside and it therefore took a lot longer to read. My favourite characters included “The Wolf of Kabul” a ripping yarn about English intervention in Afghanistan involving a man armed with a cricket bat:

Political correctness was not first and foremost in anybody’s mind in these stories, but at least they did always win:

I also recollect “The Scarlet Skull”, a series about a First World War pilot in a Bristol Fighter who was armed with a Mauser revolver and who brought German aircraft down with just one bullet through the pilot’s head:

There wasn’t anything that he couldn’t do. He inspired me. If there’d still been an RFC in 1962, I would have joined it.

This cover mentions “Wilson the Wonder Athlete” but given my attraction to ice buns and chocolate bars, I wasn’t particularly interested in stories about running around very quickly or about living in a cave on the Yorkshire moors eating nuts and berries:

Another favourite story of mine was about a tree in Kenya that was so high that it had whole tribes of people living in it. No, really, I do remember it, but nobody else seems to!
I did buy other comics with my pocket money though. I can still remember waiting impatiently for a new comic called Victor to come out on February 5th 1961. I went up to the newsagent’s in High Street, Taylors, and asked Albert Taylor to make sure he saved me one. I even returned to his  shop on several occasions to make sure that he had not forgotten what I’d asked him to do:

There was a “Super Squirt Ring” as a free gift, but I just don’t remember that:

What I do remember was the edge of the comic where a machine had cut it. It was heavily and stiffly serrated and very, very tactile as you rubbed your finger across it. Ten years later, I would have a university lecturer telling me about French novelist, Marcel Proust and his madeleine cake but this famous literary event didn’t even come close to Victor Comic around 9.30 am on February 5th 1961.
The free gift from Victor Comic, which I  do definitely remember, was the plastic wallet which would eventually contain more than 20 postcard sized pictures of the ‘Star Teams of 1961’. This is a wallet like the one I had, but I can’t find an exact match:


The Star Teams included England, Tottenham Hotspur and Ipswich and Scottish teams such as Glasgow Celtic, “The Rangers” and Kilmarnock:

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There were also Northern Irish teams such as Glenavon and Portadown whose results, in those days, were featured on BBC TV on Saturday afternoons. Rugby League was not forgotten with Wigan and St Helens. The England and Scotland Rugby Union XVs were there as well. This is Wigan:

Nowadays, the Star Teams of 1961 are almost permanently on sale on ebay, but that’s not the same thrill as going up to the newsagent to buy the comics with them in, straight after breakfast.

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Filed under Aviation, Criminology, History, Humour, Literature, Personal, Writing

The End of the War in Europe and Church Gresley (1)

Near to the clay mining village of Woodville where I spent my childhood there is a very similar coal mining village called Church Gresley. From 1882-2009, Church Gresley was the home of a football team called Gresley Rovers.

Here is a small scale map of where I am talking about. The orange arrow points to Church Gresley:

Rovers managed more than 125 years of inoffensive existence until, in our new and wonderful world of money, money, money, they found they hadn’t got any money, money, money, and immediately went bankrupt.  Rovers went into receivership and disappeared for ever. Shortly afterwards they re-emerged as Gresley FC. I’m afraid I stopped bothering with them at that point. I used to go to see “Rovers” as a lad, not “Gresley FC”.

Rovers had a ground called the Moat Ground which dates back over a century:

Here is a larger scale map of the village with the orange arrow pointing to the stadium, if that is the right word:


The club played quite a big part in the life of my family. Before the First World War, my Grandad, Will, played a few games for the reserves and before the Second World War, my Dad, Fred, managed a few games for the same team. When I was still a toddler in a pushchair, my Dad used to take me up to the Moat Ground to watch Rovers play. This would have been in the 1950s. My Dad used to teach in the school in Hastings Road, only half a mile from the ground. You can find Hastings Road on the map in the top right corner. He taught many of the players and supporters over the years. The team manager and coach was the school caretaker (or janitor).

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the school isn’t there any more. Because of mining subsidence, it has had to be pulled down.

The last football match I ever attended with my Dad was the Final of the F.A.Vase. It was between Gresley Rovers and Guiseley, a team from near Leeds in Yorkshire:

The game took place at Wembley Stadium, and I left it to Fred to buy the tickets and arrange the transport down to London.  We left in one of the many, many coaches full of happy Rovers supporters which streamed out of the village on that hot, sunny Saturday 26 years ago.
Another big day in the club’s history came on May 9th 1945, when Rovers played a match to celebrate the end of the Second World War. I don’t know if they realised it at the time, but the supporters had the privilege of seeing some of the greatest players of the era. It was billed as “Gresley Rovers (Selected) v RAF”.  Last year I bought the single sheet programme for the game on ebay.

I paid far too much by the standards of people who don’t need their heads examining. In the auction I was extremely cunning. I bid “a very large sum of money I have never told my wife about” plus a penny. I won the auction by a penny.
Rovers’ opposition that joyful day were the RAF. Captain of the RAF team I believe was Raich Carter, the only man to win the FA Cup both before and after the Second World War:

He played top class football for 21 years, appearing in midfield for Sunderland (245 appearances, 118 goals), Derby County (63 appearances, 34 goals), Hull City (136 appearances, 57 goals) and Cork Athletic (9 appearances, 3 goals). He played for England in 13 matches and scored 7 times. He then became a manager with Hull City, Cork Athletic, Leeds United, Mansfield Town and Middlesbrough. He also played first class cricket for Derbyshire and Minor Counties cricket for Durham.

Carter mentions the Gresley game in his autobiography:

“One vivid memory from this period was of a team put together by Carter and Doherty which played charity matches against local sides. One such match was played at a packed Church Gresley on a May evening in 1945. The result was not important.”

What was important was the fact that the war was over, Hitler was defeated, and within weeks, all of Britain would move forward into a Golden Age.
The other great star in the RAF team was Peter Doherty who partnered Raich Carter in midfield at Derby County.

On April 27th 1946, the two of them would help Derby to beat Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
Peter Doherty, from Northern Ireland, played for several clubs, including two Irish teams, Coleraine and Glentoran, and then Blackpool (82 appearances, 28 goals), Manchester City (119 appearances, 74 goals), Derby County (15 appearances, 7 goals),  Huddersfield Town (83 appearances, 33 goals) and Doncaster Rovers (103 appearances, 55 goals), giving a total of 200 goals in 402 appearances. He played 16 times for Northern Ireland and scored 3 goals. When he moved into management, he managed Doncaster Rovers, Northern Ireland and Bristol City. All this and he still smoked a pipe.
As Len Shackleton said:

“the genius among geniuses… the most baffling body swerve in football… all the tricks with the ball… a shot like the kick of a mule… enough football skill to stroll through a game smoking his pipe…”

We’ll look at the programme next time…

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

The End of the War in Europe and Moscow

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the end of the Second World War was celebrated by the Soviet Union in their capital city, Moscow. It was May 8th 1945.

The Soviets well remembered conquering Berlin. Flying their aircraft at will over the capital of the Evil Empire:

Everybody was friends (some more than others) :

On May 2nd 1945, the Red Army had flown their flag from the highest point in Berlin, the Reichstag building:

There was, of course, plenty of argument about who performed this iconic act. The photograph itself was taken by Yevgeny Khaldei using a flag sown together by his uncle:

Officially, the two men who carried out this dizzy feat were Meliton Kantaria and Mikhail Yegorov. Others state that the man who raised the flag was Alyosha Kovalyov. Yevgeny Khaldei, the photographer, supported this man as the actual flag raiser but aided by Abdulkhakim Ismailov and Leonid Gorychev (who is mentioned elsewhere as Aleksei Goryachev). The very same problems of identification had happened elsewhere on a previous occasion:

Back in Moscow, there were searchlights:

There were fireworks:


And in Red Square, there were vast numbers of soldiers of the Red Army on parade:

Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union rode a white horse across the slippery, wet cobbles of Red Square, without problems, thank goodness:


Red Army soldiers brought in German banners and then they threw them down on the ground in disgust and triumph:

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And just for once, just for a few weeks, until minds were re-poisoned, everybody was friends and they all smiled big smiles and saluted each other until they grew tired of it:

And then, like little children, they played on the grass in the park and drank vodka nicely together and they danced. Oh Comrade, how we danced……

 

 

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Filed under History, Personal, Politics

The adverts in Victor Comic (2)

Here’s a second look at some of the adverts in Victor Comic in the 1960s. Ironically, given the wide spectrum of areas where the picture stories are based, from working class athletes to First World War flyers, from the trusty Gurkhas to the first Mounties, the adverts are not particularly vast in scope. I suppose the problem was that they all had to sell things which a boy or a youth of say, 8-16 or older might be interested in, and could afford, without involving risky photographs of the fair sex or dangerous weapons.

So keep it clean lads and stick to your Airfix kits:

FW Woolworth. Whatever happened to them? All the naughty boys were  probably sniffing their Airfix glue to get their kicks but there was certainly very little of a hallucinogenic quality in stamp hinges. So the comic was full of  them. And a lot of money must have been made. Well, they do say Philately will get you anywhere. Just look at these adverts:

Don’t be fooled by the word ‘Million’, though. For a start, you have to share a million stamp packets with everybody else and there is bound to be some catch to it. You certainly won’t get a million packets of stamps because that many would bury a small town. The second advert has prices.  Between 2/6 and 5/- would be a likely sum for a boy’s weekly pocket money (12.5 to 25 pence). The advert for 50 different stamps “plus exciting mystery set” certainly makes Heston in Middlesex sound exciting and mysterious. And neither Mr Brown nor Mr Delaney in the very last section can be doing that well with the amount of advertising space they have had to share.

There are still matchbox covers for sale. although if I lived in Cocksett Avenue I think I’d move:

And still the stamps pour in. Did the entire world write a dozen letters a day? To Rumania, and Paraguay, and China (Communist and Nationalist)?

England winning the World Cup in 1966 gave every country an excuse to print even more stamps. And those stamps that were overprinted with “England Winners”. Do you remember how everybody went nuts to buy them? Well, just look up sometime how much they are worth nowadays:

For the older boy there were adverts for cars:

Mind you, they were model cars at Woolworths, not real ones. Incidentally, my Dad paid £510 for a full size Hillman Minx in 1966 and my Mum would have played merry stink with him if he’d told her the correct price.

Every teenager will want to change his body, of course. Here’s an advert for Charles Atlas who always looked rather like my Dad;. but only from the neck up. I’ve actually seen this advert before. When I was a little boy, I thought the two young ladies were very strange bricklayers. And I wouldn’t want to live in Chitty Street either:

And last of all, a comic can advertise itself. Special editions for the Summer Holidays:

And don’t miss any foreign sales. There are thousands of little boys across the globe all wanting to have Victor comic sent to them. But what bizarre sums of money! 43/4d and 36/10d are just weird. It’s like the charge being precisely £4.34 or exactly £3.61 :

Above all reserve your comic:

Or you could buy your Victor on DVD. A lot cheaper than collecting the whole lot on ebay one at a time.

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The adverts in Victor Comic (1)

Years ago, one of my favourite comics was called ‘Victor’. At this time, during the 1960s, there were lots and lots of comics, which were read by lots and lots of boys.

And of course, with so many publications which reached so many boys, there were bound to be lots and lots of advertisements. Some were for games to pass the infinite time of childhood. This is one of the best known:

But that wasn’t the only one:

The majority of adverts were for hobbies:

One hobby which I always found quite bizarre involved miniature metal steam engines. One of the more familiar names was ‘Mamod’ although other types were also available:

The biggest money earner was surely philately. It was as if every boy in the country was a keen collector of postage stamps. First of all though, you had to buy an album:

Stamp collecting taught you a lot though. Where all the countries were. What language they used, and quite often a word or two of that language. You learnt if the language had a different alphabet. I could tell Chinese from Korean and so could a lot of other 10 year old boys. It was easy to be familiar with the different states of India or Malaysia and all those exotic sounding islands of the West Indies. And stamps were so easily obtainable:

They sold stamps by the Approvals method. This involved your being a member of, say, the Wulfruna Club, to quote the advert above. You were sent a little booklet full of stamps, usually in sets, all of which were priced at sums below five shillings (two weeks’ pocket money approximately). You could buy some stamps yourself or see if your friends wanted to buy any. You sent the money back to the Wulfruna Club by postal order. There were bonus stamps available if you sold more than a certain amount’s worth of stamps, or if you recruited your friends to the club. On one occasion, I received bonus stamps from Bahawalpur, one of the states of Pakistan, for recruiting two other boys to the club.

Here is a final three part advert which mentions not just postage stamp approvals but also matchbox covers. A lot of boys collected either matchboxes or cigarette packets but I wasn’t allowed to pick them up off the pavement because there might be germs involved. Anyway, here’s the advert:

Keen eyed detectives of the future or past will note that their advert also offers tuition in conjuring. There are few things in life more boring than a Member of the Magic Circle but, more worryingly perhaps, how would a stupendous world beating conjurer still be living in Stoke-on-Trent?

Unless, of course, you investigate with that Google thing whereby you walk down the street and discover that Whitfield Road is really the Las Vegas of the North Midlands.

 

 

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Staff cricket : the Golden Years (4)

I know of only one photograph of the staff team in action. I don’t remember who the opponents were, but I believe the picture was taken by Allan Sparrow who was very keen on photography and who ran the School Photography Society which had its very own dark room in one of those tiny rooms off the very short corridor which leads to the Language Laboratory. Anyway, here is that photograph of a split second in time, forty years ago:

The batsman at this end, his name, alas, unknown, has been, literally, caught out, and the bowler, Clem Lee, makes his loud appeal, “Howzat !” to the Umpire. This is Me, dressed as Ché Guévara in a Surgeon’s outfit. On the left, Tony Slack, who, in one game he played, once hit the England fast bowler Freddie Truman to the boundary for four runs, adds his voice to the appeals. The only one not appealing is the batsman near me, who just turns around to await my decision. My raised index finger signifies “Out!”

Here’s the second photograph:

This photograph shows the staff team, I suspect, on the same summer’s evening as the previous one. In the back row, on the left, is three quarters of Chris Smith, the English  teacher who left the school as long ago as 1992:

Next to him is Richard Willan, the best Chairman the Staff Common Room ever had:

Then there is Phil Eastwood, who must be very pleased indeed to see Manchester City doing so well:

Then Bob Dickason, teacher of German and French, who I haven’t seen for a very long time. He left in 1983, to go and teach in France, I believe:

Then there’s Clem Lee, the Head of Games:

There’s Ray Moore with his hair much shorter than when he first arrived. He went to West Bridgford School, I have heard, and had unbelievable success running the girls’ football team.

Then the best man at our wedding, Bob Howard, a friend I miss a lot and who I wish I had seen much more of over the years:

Then Me. That umpire’s coat must be the only thing I have ever worn that’s been too big for me. It also gave me the magic power to balance things on my head with consummate ease:

On the left of the front row is Norman Thompson the Head of Economics who taught at least one future Chancellor of the Exchequer:

Next to him is Harry Latchman, the Groundsman and Cricket Coach. He was the only proper cricketer in the team, having played for both Middlesex and Nottinghamshire and in Minor Counties cricket, for Cambridgeshire. He was elected President of Middlesex County Cricket Club in 2015:

Then comes Tony Slack:

He has already appeared in a post about the First XI football team. In fact, a number of posts about the First XI football team. One. Two. Three.Tony taught Chemistry and then he took charge of the School’s computers. More impressive, he played for the reserves at Rotherham United, and in one game was personally threatened by Charlie Hurley, Sunderland’s Player of the Century:

The final player is the Team Captain, David Phillips, the Maths teacher, who used to run both the Second XV and the Second XI if my memory serves me right. He worked at the High School for 37 years where he was an important rôle model for vast numbers of junior boys:

I don’t know if the staff still have a cricket team. The summer 2017 would mark their 70th Anniversary if they still played any fixtures.

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Filed under History, Humour, Nottingham, Personal, The High School