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Young Friends And Football Memories From 1949/50


When Formby youngsters turn out to play for one of their football teams this weekend - FJS or Redgate Rovers or whichever is their club - the last thing on their mind will be whether or not they will remember the game they played or even what happened on the day when they look back in over 65 years time! When a good friend of mine, Brian Rimmer, showed me a photo of his school team back in 1949/50 – we can’t be sure - and pointed out someone next to him who I also know, Peter Norris, I realised we had a reminiscence of past times in Formby to bring to Bubble readers. I have used the information and the tales they told me, but I have also tried to bring it to life in my own words so that any mistakes must be traced back to me.

Let us start with the old photo Brian loaned me and just take a look at it. I could have trimmed it as the boys are not quite centred, but that is part of the charm and gives us a better idea of the field in which they played. Football pitch, did I hear someone say? Well, it was the best pitch they had and it is where their school team turned out on a Saturday morning. I wonder if anyone can work out where it was situated? We can see a large house in the background and that was one of three large houses that stood in Cambridge Road at the time, though this particular house has since been demolished. In the 1955 Street Directory for Formby, we can find the first house at the corner of Jubilee Road and Funchal Avenue was ‘Pentrick’, followed by ‘North View’ and then Number 1 and Number 4. The only other two houses were ‘The Firs’ and ‘Sandon’. How times have changed. The telegraph pole we can see was on Ashton’s Lane (containing 3 houses), which ran parallel to Cambridge Avenue. Today this area has become Pinewood Avenue.

Having examined the photo, let us put some names to the players.

On the back row stood Sam Adair, Brian Mawdsley, ‘Lanky’ Aindow, the goalkeeper Ian Corless, Ernie Johnson, Derek Rigby and Walter Storey.

On the front row we can see Dennis Rimmer, Brian Massam, Ken Rimmer, Brian Rimmer and Peter Norris.

All were Formby or Altcar lads apart from Sam and Derek who had recently arrived from the Liverpool area.

The only one I actually met myself other than Brian and Peter was Ken Rimmer, a farmer in Altcar who passed away not so very long ago. Walter’s father, Mr. W.H.Storey, was the proprietor of the Lifeboat Cafe Roadhouse in Liverpool Road. What I can see in the photo is a set of happy faces ready for their game - and with youth and enjoyment written all over them. The kit is, of course, of its time and identifies with the 1950s – but the faces could be lads of today, full of fun and lives to be lived. Brian Mawdsley and Ernie Johnson have been attracted by some movement to their left – was that their teacher, possibly? About half of them have a team school badge made of material sewn onto their shirts – thanks, Mum!

Imagine the excitement – not only a footie match but also a photo of the team! It was a Saturday, but what time of the year? Look closely at the trees and the lack of leaves suggests the end on winter. Also, Peter has some strong memories of that day in particular. He loved to see Formby play at the Brows Lane ground on a Saturday and on this day it was a big game! Formby were due to play rivals Skelmersdale United in a cup match – a semi-final, possibly in the George Mahon Cup - and in those days Formby and ‘Skem’ were two of the best sides in the Liverpool County Combination. Yet Peter was under a ‘3 line whip’ to turn up for the photo, and he was not going to miss that! It was teacher Bob Tanner who ran the school team, as well as the cricket team in the summer. The boys were lucky to have a young male teacher who could run their teams and were able to enjoy their matches against local and Merseyside schools. The other teachers at the school – and there may have been a few more – were Headmistress Miss N.K. Cubbon and Miss Ramsbotham. I reckon if you still have pupils who remember what you did for them at school over 65 years later, then you must have done something right and you certainly made an impression. Bob Tanner had probably served in the RAF during WWII as both Brian and Peter remember how keen he was to talk about the service.

As Peter said to me, “In those days you were lucky to have football boots!” Most boys wore studs that you could get with 3 nails protruding - and you hammered them into any boots your parents could get you. Shin pads were essay books or pieces of cardboard pushed into school socks, Peter continued, “We had shorts which we had for PE, but shirts were in a variety of colours. We played football ‘on the ground’, as heading the laced leather ball, especially when wet, would give you a long headache - especially if you headed it on the lace itself! The ball was too heavy to kick very far as it was a ‘full size’ and made of leather. Games were always on a Saturday morning and Bob Tanner would mark out the field and put up the goalposts.

The pitch was some distance from the school, and sometimes we had to first chase the cows or sheep away.” Imagine those days for lads in the 40s and 50s. Not only did they have to learn and practice the skills to beat opponents and score goals, but they also learned how to dribble past cow pats and sheep droppings, playing with a big and heavy ball. As Peter reminded me, “There were no changing rooms in those days or sponsored shirts, and no substitutes if you got injured.”

Don’t ask me who they played that morning or what the score was, it was too long ago – but the photo survives, a happy moment in time for young lads with their lives ahead of them. There are plenty of questions to ask if only someone could find the answer: who won the Formby/Skem match?; is there anyone else who remembers those teachers we mentioned?; how could Dixie Dean score 60 goals in one season playing with a ‘casie’ ball that was often wet and like a brick to head at the goal? Any answers gratefully received.

There is one more matter to mention, however. I said before that it was a day that had an impact on young Peter Norris – and this is the reason why. He said, “The day also sticks in my mind as when I got home to the boathouse where I lived, I found one of 2 spitfires flying low along the stretch of hill had clipped its wing on one of the sandhills, crashed by the boathouse and careered along the beach. It finally ended up partly covered by seawater close to the shore by the old Stella Maris House. My dad was involved in helping to collect the pilot, who was very seriously injured, and we all watched the recovery of the spitfire. I was told the planes were not from Woodvale but were Fleet Air Arm spitfires.”

I have looked at the front pages of the Formby Times for 1950 and 1951 without success, so I will have to return to the Library to look through the 1949 editions. Can any Bubble readers help with this?

Have a look at these adverts from the Formby Times of 1950

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