Don, who resides in a bungalow overlooking the Boldmere playing field, was interested to hear about the Boldmere St Michaels book written about their 125 year history. He was interviewed for this website so he could give his memories going back many decades supporting Boldmere.
Don who was 80 years of age said, ï¿½I first saw Boldmere play with my Father when I was old enough to appreciate the game of football so I would have been about seven or eight years old. We lived at Short Heath. My Father used to watch Aston Villa occasionary. When Aston Villa was at home I can remember when they scored a goal because you could hear the roar of the crowd from our house. When we went to see Boldmere play it would take us about 25 minutes or so to walk from out home across the Park to Church Road. We used to stand opposite the half way line. My Father used to tell me stories of when he played football with a blown up pigs bladder. I was pushed to the front because the crowd that watches Boldmere in the `Central Amateur League` in those days was sometimes up to four lines deep and I was quite small. In those days there was no barrier but a rope was used tied to posts around the pitch yet no one ran on the pitch because that was frowned upon. ï¿½
He added, ï¿½The pitch was not in good condition as it is now. It was a bumpy surface but it suited Boldmere because they were a strong team.ï¿½
ï¿½There was an old shed type construction to shelter the fans. There was a shed near the entrance where I would have paid my admission fee. Dad would have paid something like three pence. If you went to see Aston Villa it would have cost him a shilling which was a lot of money in those days. You could also buy a cup of tea from the shed. Harold Spencerï¿½s wife used to serve tea. It was not as luxurious as they have now but it was a big pavilion shed. I recall they had a communal bath installed for the players to wash themselves in after the game.ï¿½
Boldmere used to play against teams such as Smethwick Highfield and Ipstock Penistone Rovers. Boldmere won that Central Amateur League a few times.
Harry Spencer was described as a great header of the ball and as a centre half he won everything in the air. He would have walked into any team. The players in the team were all gentlemen even though they were not associated with the Church anymore.
Editorï¿½s note: Jackie Lewis who was an ace goalkeeper was later signed by Harry Hibbs the ex-Birmingham City keeper who was manager of Walsall. Hibbs was the first post war Manager when he was appointed in 1944. His `shoot on sight` policy provided good entertainment for the Saddlers fans in those days.
Don said, ï¿½Boldmere had a hardcore of loyal supporters like Moor Green had. You grew up as rivals and both sets of supporters would have been keen on Amateur football. Don recalls going to the Moorlands to see a local derby match between the teams.ï¿½
He added, "The F.A. Amateur Cup was a big draw for the fans in those days. A brass band used to march on the pitch and would leave the pitch when the teams came out for the match. It was always a great atmosphere."
Don’s Brother-in-Law was Robert `Bob` Sill who was a stalwart of the Boldmere club. He played from 1938 to 1948. During that time he captained the side for a few seasons. Son of a Policeman Bob was just 5`7” tall but was a very strong player and fast with a powerful shot. He scored lots of goals and was on the score sheet when Boldmere won the `Verviers Trophy` in Belguim in 1938. The Boldmere team had played several games over the Easter long weekend to win that competition.
Don recalls that Bob had visited him on the Sunday after they played Shildon in January 1948. The Durham team with the likes of Bishop Auckland were part of that `hotbed` of football in the North East. The Boldmere team travelled up in the train to play and won the cup-tie 2-1.
Don said, “I recall Smethwick Highfield had a big centre half called Bradley. He was a tall fella about 14 stone with a mop of black hair. He was hard as they come. He picked on one of the Boldmere players who was slight in statue with a couple of over the top tackles. Bob did not like what he saw. When Bradley won the ball, Bob did this `sliding` tackle with his studs showing although the heel of his boot was on the ground and Bradley went up in the air. These days it might be a red card. In those days if you got the ball it was considered a fair tackle.'
Note this article in NOT in the Boldmere St Michaels book.
(The late Bob Sill is in the middle row of the team on the left)
â€œDAVID MEETS GOLIATH BUT DOES NOT WINâ€
Another fascinating football story by Arthur Such (see image when he was heading the ball ) who played for Boldmere St Michaelâ€™s in the 1950-1951 season.
There are of course two distinct aspects of the game of football: the skilful control of the ball including the art of dribbling, passing and shooting. However there is a physical side of the game whereby strong tackling players are out to get the ball and let you know right from the outset that you are a marked man!
At some time during a footballersâ€™ career they are going to run into a strong defender with a reputation for vigorous play. The incident I am about to recall is not mean to imply that the defender was a â€œdirtyâ€ player, but he was certainly a tough player and very physical. I will not name him but he played for Oswestry Town. I was well aware of his reputation and my own physical frailties when I was 23 years old.
As chance would have it during the game between Boldmere St Michaelâ€™s and Oswestry Town I was going for a loose ball, when I saw the robust defender was doing the same. By sheer luck we were both about to reach the ball at the same time. I estimated that the weight difference was approximately three stone in his favour.
An apt phase of recent origin seemed appropriate for this situation- get your retaliation in first. Bearing this in mind, I did something that I had not done before and certainly never after. We did reach the ball simultaneously and I kicked it with all my strength and rolled my boot so that all six studs were showing. The ball shot out â€œlike a shellâ€ over my left shoulder and what did my studs encounter? A clash between the sole of my boot with the studs and sole of his. I was pigued (wounded pride) to say the least. The wily scoundrel had done exactly what I had done. I knew that he knew what I had done, and for a few seconds wondered how he would react.
He looked hard at me, slowly smiled, patted me on the shoulder and with a â€œthatâ€™s the way to play Lad,â€ before shuffling off to take up his position in defence. My only comment now is: â€œYou do have to do it sometimes for self protection.â€
I never saw the game (in the late 1940s and 1950s) in the context of physical strength but to get to the very top you do need a strong physique. I was a skilful player who scored goals but I was not that physical a player.
The wife of a former Boldmere St Michaels football player can rightly claim to be one of the original `Footballers Wives` long before Victoria Beckham and all the `WAGS` of the Premiership players get all the headlines. Note that this article is NOT in the new book on Boldmere St Michaels
Jean Watt, born in Great Barr, was delighted to read the launch
of the book on Boldmere St Michaels. She was stunned to see
that the `Sutton Coldfield Observer` had published an article which had included her late husband in a team photograph. The image is on the cover of the new book on Boldmere St Michaels Football Club which was launched on 1st July 2008. Her husband Jack `Johnny` Watts played as an inside- right in the late 1940s for the club.
Jean was engaged at 18 years old after meeting him at a dance. She married when she was 20 years. She said, ï¿½I had been going out with Jack when I was a teenager. I watched him play all his matches for Boldmere even in the winter when the snow was on the ground. I did not have boots but stood in the snow in my high heels. I used to get worried if Johnny was injured on the field and hoped and prayed he was okay. He was always scoring goals-a few hat tricks too. I kept all the newspaper cuttings of his footballing career in a grey shoe box. I especially remember the Boldmere team playing the Indian Olympic team in 1948 because Jack was not very well. He had a touch of tonsillitis. However he insisted that he would play the game against the stars of the 1948 London Olympics. We, including Jackï¿½s Father, also used to always watch him play. We were all so proud of him. It was a once in a lifetime thing for Jack be involved in such a game. I remember some of the Indian players did not play in football boots. The Olympic team won the match 1-0 but I do recall the Boldmere team had bad luck and should have won the match.ï¿½ (Author`s note: see pages 36 and 37 in the book of the match)
Jean added, ï¿½I always sat in the old Pavilion at Boldmere to watch the match. It was like a huge wooden shed. I used to wait there for him after he finished the game. Someone used to leave the door open to the dressing rooms and I would get a glimpse of the players in various stages of undress getting into the communal bath that both teams shared in those days. I was very embarrassed as they cheered at me. There used to be some noise from the dressing room when they used to shout and sing especially after they won a game.ï¿½
Jean recalls, ï¿½I watched Jack play sport through all of my adult life because I loved my husband to bits. I watched all the sports events he was in and followed him every where. Not only did he play for Boldmere but he played for `Jack Moulds` and then semi-professionally for Atherstone. In the summer months he played cricket for Aston Manor and West Bromwich Dartmouth. He was a sprinter in the Birchfield Harriers team. I went to to sports meetings too. In fact he supposed to have had a trial for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club before we were married but he could not go. At that time in 1948 there had been a severe snow storm and the trains were not running. In a way (as she laughed) I was glad as I did not really want to live in Sheffield.ï¿½
She added, ï¿½He always said that he appreciated that I was always there to support him. Sport kept him very fit which helped him in later years when he retired. He was called `Johnny` when he played at Boldmere. There was another player called Jack `Nobby` Clarke. My husband was called by his real name Jack after he left Boldmere. He took a great interest when our Grandson Marco started to play football when he was very young. Jack used to say to his Grandson, ï¿½When you see the whites of his eyes shoot!ï¿½ Marco went on to play for Boldmere`s youth team.ï¿½
After 53 years of a loving marriage, Jack, a non smoker, died in 2004 of a Cancer related illness. Jean lovingly nursed him in his final months. She said, ï¿½We had a good life together and I still miss him every day.ï¿½
(Interview by Mike Talbot on 14th July 2008)
Tom Ross, “Joining us on the `Sports Bar` tonight (04/09/2008) delighted to welcome Mick Talbot. Mick was `Physio` at Birmingham City for a while (with their youth teams) he has been a `Physio` at a number of non league clubs but he was at Boldmere St Michaels for a while-my old club. One of the things he has done before he left was to write the history of Boldmere St Michaels to celebrate their 125 history. Yes they have been going 125 years. It is longer than a lot of football League clubs. A labour of love Mick?”
Mick Talbot, “Oh Definitely! It is a bit of a cliché to say this but it was a joy to do. It would have been easier for me to write about Arsenal or Manchester United because they get all the headlines. For me it was about capturing an era-a charm- when the players played in baggy shorts and the ball was really heavy. I wanted to do this as I have a feeling that people now want to know about days gone by.
Tom Ross, “Nostalgia is big!”
Mick Talbot, “That is basically why I did it and to capture an era because in the 1940`s and 1950`s the gap between professional football and Amateur football was not as wide as it is now.”
Tom Ross, “Absolutely because a lot of Amateurs played at professional clubs.”
Mick Talbot, “Harry Parkes springs to mind as he was one of them. He played for Aston Villa but as a teenager he played for Boldmere in the 1930`s. The rest of us who are too young to have seen him play would have gone into his sports shop at the top end of Corporation Street by the Law Courts (Tom-“Bought me boots there' )and then looked in awe at those sepia pictures of Aston Villa teams on the walls of the shop going back decades. Birmingham City also `cherry picked` clubs like Boldmere. They signed John `Jackie` Lane after 1949-1950 season who was scoring goals for the `Mikes.` He was in their promotion winning team managed by Arthur Turner in the 1950`s. They won at Doncaster Rovers 5-1 and ironically Doncaster Rovers will be playing Birmingham City again on the 13th September. Did not a certain `Tom Ross` played for Boldmere St. Michaels??'
Tom Ross says “Badly!!”
Mick Talbot, “I heard differently. I heard you gave out as much pain as you got.”
Tom Ross, “I did and Robin Whetnall and Alan Hampton the `Governor` at that time loved me as I was keen and enthusiastic and would kick anybody for nothing. That was always a big help. The thing that I loved about Boldmere when I was there is that it really was a warm club (friendly) Church Road is still the same place. The club house has been done out but you know what I mean?”
Mick Talbot, “A family club and that is what originally attracted me. I left Paget Rangers after they went bust which is unfortunate. There is another story of a fine club and I hope someone writes their history one day.”
Tom Ross, “I liked playing at Paget it was always good to go there which was the other side of Sutton Coldfield (Springfield Road) Local derbies -we had some games there. I played there on a Sunday too so I could play on a Saturday and then on Sunday. It was muddy as hell at Paget but it was a great place. I think there is a Paget team of sorts on Castle Vale?”
Mick Talbot, “Yes there is a Paget Sports they are keeping the history going about Rangers on their website………….so having left Paget Rangers I wanted to work with Alan Parsons (Parso) and look after the players the `Lame and the Lazy` on a training night. Harry Peakman (Honorary President) who is 87 years old now, would come into see me and talk about days gone by. There are photographs in the board room and there is an image of the team playing in 1948 at Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium. (see the image on the front page of this website) This club was formed from a Church team like Everton, Birmingham City and Southampton were . Harry Peakman told me that Boldmere won a European Cup (not the Champions League I must add) as well as Moor Green who were another famous club. These two teams travelled to Europe in the 1930`s (Boldmere played before the War) to play professional clubs. The Football Association in those days banned professional clubs from playing in the tournament so the Amateur teams went to play instead. Boldmere won this trophy and it is still on display in the Boardroom. After speaking to Harry I started to write articles for the Boldmere match day programme. After a couple of seasons I had the basics to do a book especially to celebrate the club`s 125 years. I put an appeal into the local Sutton Coldfield newspapers. There were people like Alan Smith who replied. Alan’s Father Gilbert `Cap` Smith was born in Aston (like Tom Ross was) and in the 1930`s he captained the Boldmere team. In the Chapter on the 1930`s Alan provided most of those team images.
Tom Ross, “Great pictures in the book!”
Mick Talbot, “I am so grateful to people like Alan Smith. There is another chap called Robert Woodcock who provided the image from that game at Highbury in 1948 when Boldmere played Barnet in the F.A. Amateur Cup semi-final in front of a 26,000 crowd. Goodness Boldmere are lucky now if they play in front of 50 paying fans. I think the Premiership has ruined non league football because people would rather watch these matches all the time and that does affect non league. Unless of course you are Chasetown and their Manager Charlie Blakemore who gets the team into the 1st Round Proper of the F.A. Cup home to Cardiff City. In 1948 Boldmere did a `Chasetown` when they had over 3,000 fans crammed into that little Church Road ground against Gosport Athletic (Hampshire). I said to a long time Boldmere supporter Robert Woodcock, 'How come you were getting attendances of 1,000 for league matches in the Birmingham and District League and anything over 3,000 for the F.A. Amateur Cup?' Robert said,' Boldmere was a strong community in that the people were born, went to school, got married, worked and were buried in the grounds of St Michaels Church. Boldmere St Michaels was their team.' After the end of the war there was still restrictions, a few Cinema`s may have been opened but that may have been the only entertainment available. So imagine what Chasetown had to do to prepare for their F.A. Cup games to accommodate the big crowds they had. Boldmere to a lesser degree had to do the same to get the ground ready for the match like getting benches in for the crowd to sit on from the local church and building a temporary stand out of scaffolding poles and tarpaulin (a heavy duty industrial polyethylene material laminated on both sides for maximum weatherproofing) to protect fans from the weather.”
Tom Ross, “Without Health & Safety!”
Mick Talbot, “So Harry- Bless him- inspired me with his stories and the book came from there.”
Tom Ross, “Brilliant. I see a lot of the teams and the names of the players in the book who went on to do other things and they are still around-The Spencer’s, Harry Bray, Micky Speake, the Wotton’s. They were all good lads that I played with at that time in the 1970`s. They were absolutely fantastic guys. The book covers it all right up to date which is amazing and inspirational. So what happens to Boldmere now and where it can go?”
Mick Talbot, “I think this publicity is going to help the club and a few more people will appreciate that Boldmere still have a semi-professional non league club. You and I are Birmingham City fans but we have a favourite non league club. So what I say to people out there is if you are going to watch Aston Villa and the following week they are playing away then come down to Boldmere St Michaels. You can park FREE in the car park, have a pint after the game and watch some good (honest) football. To be fair if they live in Sutton Coldfield they will read about the local clubs and then further a field people watch Tamworth and Hednesford Town (who are top of their League in the Unibond Premier)
Tom Ross, “We have all become part of the 125 years of the history of the club and as a player I have a deep sense of pride having played in the white shirt of Boldmere.”
Mick Talbot, “Exactly. Consider that Queen Victoria was still on the throne when a group of youngsters wanted to play this new game of Association Football. In those days the Victorian Press would not have necessarily have been giving the headlines to the new sport. The headlines certainly started to develop when professional football became popular.”
Tom Ross, “They are still running it as a labour of love (Harry Peakman and Alan Parsons) they put some much into the club. Keith Fielding…………….. and Trevor Brown who got everyone working at 110%. When I was playing he was the `Physio.` He came on with the sponge and said, 'Get up there is nothing wrong with you.”
Mick Talbot, “I was talking to Chairman Keith Fielding one night about the Gould brothers who had been playing for the 1st team. Rob Mallaband who is the Manager now and his brother also played in the team like a few other sets of brothers did. Keith said, 'Come with me !' so he `frog marches` me down the corridor passed the dressing rooms to the kit room and tucked up in the corner of that room was this dusty box of Boldmere memorabilia with team photographs going back to the 1940`s. It must have belonged to someone or left in a garage after they passed on as some of the programmes were spoilt with mildew. So with Harry’s memories and this box of history were the foundation to the book. May I quote something you said to me sports books can sometimes make you cold (boring) so I was keen to avoid adding too many facts and rather get people to tell their story. For example I managed to locate three surviving members of the 1950-1951 Boldmere team who played in front of home crowds of 800 in the Birmingham & District League. One was Ken Robinson who is like a surrogate `Father` to me now after my father died. He managed to contact former team-mates Bill Hingley and Arthur Such. We all went to the club and I put a portable tape recorder on the desk in front of them and recorded their memories about what they did. Arthur who like the others is 80-something said to me,' I have had loads of memorabilia in my loft for 58 years and I never thought that anyone would be interested.' I told him there were action shots that I wanted to scan.”
(Webmaster`s note: see them on this page)
Tom Ross, “What I liked about it was that you have individuals telling their story like Johnny Lynne and Alan Parsons. It is fantastic in that they are all telling their story about Boldmere. I am biased as I am an ex-Boldmere lad. So where can people get it?”
Mick Talbot, “You can order it from W.H. Smith, Waterstones, and Amazon. co. uk. You can buy it from `eBay` Or go to the Boldmere club to watch a game. Have a pint and speak to Andy Van-Hagen who is the Commercial Manager and buy a book. The proceeds of the sales on matchday will go to the club. The Premiership gets all the headlines but my book tells the story about the real `charm` of football . I hope I have captured it.”
Tom Ross, “You certainly have. There was the famous pop simger Simon Webbe who played for Boldmere in the F.A. Youth Cup at Spurs playing against future professionals Stephen Clemence,and Stephen Carr.'
Mick Talbot, ' The youth connection is still there all these years from those early days of the 1883 team. You have people like former player Paul Casey who managed a Boldmere Youth team that went to Lincoln City in the FA Youth Cup. The club grows their own who come in from Sutton Coldfield and the rest of North Birmingham.'
Tom Ross, ' Thanks Mick for coming into the studio. To celebrate there is also the 125th year `Black Tie Dinner` at Aston Villa on 24th October starting at 7pm. The book is called `A history of Boldmere St Michaels` by Michael Talbot. He has done a fantastic job so nip out and get it.”
PLEASE NOTE THE BOOK ALSO BE PURCHASED FROM MY PUBLISHER TONY BROWN. 4 Adrian Close, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 6FL
; 0115 973 6086 Fax: 0870 130 9181
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