Club History

The story of WEST DIDSBURY A.F.C begins in 1908 when the club was originally founded as CHRIST CHURCH A.F.C by Mr R F Hartley. He was the Sunday School Superintendent who together with some of the church officers, decided to form a football team out of the Boy’s Brigade Company and Young Men’s’ Bible Class at St. Luke’s Church, Burton Road.

St. Luke’s was the daughter church within the parish of Christ Church on Darley Avenue, and although the early committee meetings were held on Burton Road the newly formed club was known as CHRIST CHURCH A.F.C. the rooms adjoining St. Luke’s became the venue for the club committee meetings and other rooms on the premises provided convenient facilities for dominoes and billiards. The church indeed was a focal point in the community and West Didsbury, a village on the outskirts of Manchester with open fields to the south of Barlow Moor Road and beyond, a stark contrast to the urban sprawl of this part of South Manchester today. It was common practice for the churches to pioneer soccer in those days at the turn of the century and many of the professional clubs in the Football League can look back to equally humble beginnings as a Sunday school team.

Having formed a team, friendly matches were arranged for the first few seasons against sides like Withington Hospital and Pendlebury Colliery and then, in a desire to play more competitive football, the club joined the Manchester Alliance League in which they continued to play until the out-break of the First World War. In common with many other clubs most of the players were conscripted into the Forces, (the ‘call-up’ age was 18), and this had the effect of prematurely terminating the Alliance League as it was never resumed after the war.

During the war years teams had to be content with occasional friendly fixtures as there was no organised competitive football. One such game was played on Boxing Day, 1916, when the opposition was the Manchester Corporation Gas Department Juniors side.

Although there are no detailed books of this period of the club’s early history as CHRIST CHURCH A.F.C the above information is included in note form in later records, has been verified by former club members and is also referred to in subsequent newspaper articles.

Immediately after the First World War the club was re-formed by Mr J C (Johnny) Edwards who as a youth had gained representative honours. Unfortunately his playing career was prematurely ended through injuries received at the Battle of the Somme, but he ably took on the job of secretary to the reconstituted Christ Church club.

Lack of finance was the first problem and so the members were each given subscription books and went from door to door asking their neighbours to make a donation to club funds. The large houses on the south side of Barlow Moor Road in Fielden Park were the homes of many merchants, and they, together with the local shopkeepers on Burton Road, were also canvassed for support. The end result of all this activity was that the ‘Ex-Service’ contingent raised ample funds to get the club moving again.

Having got the finance the next project was to gain admission to a competitive league, and here again Johnny Edwards was the man who got things moving. He knew Clarence Halliwell, secretary of the Lancashire Amateur League at that time, as both men were neighbours on Northern Grove and he was also a close friend of Bob Blezzard, a football league referee. Advice was sought from both men and application was made to both the Lancashire Amateur League and the Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League for the approaching 1920-1921 season.

Although both leagues readily agreed to admit the club it was decided to join the Lancashire and Cheshire League as this involved less expense in travelling and in any event, as most players worked on Saturday morning, away fixtures in Preston, Southport and the like would have been impractical.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

On joining the league the committee was faced with another problem – what to call the club. This arose because the L & C League had a very strict rule that all member clubs must be self financing and that works or otherwise sponsored clubs would not be admitted. This meant that CHRIST CHURCH A.F.C had to change its name to avoid any implication that it was other than a truly amateur club, and so the debate began as to what the new name should be.

As the club was based in the area bounded by Barlow Moor Road, Palatine Road, Lapwing Lane and Burton Road, this was a strong contender for the name of the club. However there was already a lacrosse team of that name and also the Albert Bowling and Tennis club and so eventually after much debate it was agreed to name the club WEST DIDSBURY A.F.C and it was under this name that the club commenced playing in the league as competition recommenced for the 1920-1921 season. Incidentally Bradford Parish Church later also suffered from the same name problem which they simply overcame by shortening their title to Bradford Parish.

Having been elected to the league, the club then applied for and was granted Full Membership of the Lancashire Football Association and was the only club of such status in the L & C League. This in turn led to an interesting situation as the league itself was only an Associate member of the L.F.A with no voting powers. So, League Chairman, Colonel S E Woolam, signed on and paid his subscription as a member of West Didsbury and was enabled to use the club’s vote on amateur and other relevant matters at the Lancashire F A meetings in Bolton.
HOME SWEET HOME 16 Oct, 2014
From 1908 until just before the was in 1914, the original Christ Church AFC ground was at Shorts Farm (Ballbrook), Wilmslow Road, with changing facilities in the cellar of the adjoining public house, the Golden Lion. Both the pitch and the pub have long since been redeveloped.

This pitch was where Old Broadway is today and indeed it was the development of these large houses which led to the move to the Christie playing field just before the First World War.

So far as we can determine the first pitch at Christies was on a field between Christ Church on Darley Avenue, and what is no Barlow Moor Road, with a gate from the road down to the pitch. Then Darley Avenue was extended and new houses built to the rear of the church to the south of Barlow Moor Road. There was no Princess Parkway and no Wythenshawe and it seems that the original pitch was more or less where the Parkway runs today.
Changing facilities were what could politely be called Spartan with a corrugated metal bell structure as the dressing room with no light or water. The latter commodity was provided by a resident of Oaker Avenue and at the end of a game both teams sat round the large iron bath and washed in cold water, with the assistance of a hurricane lamp in winter.

Incidentally, an amusing story surrounds the construction of new houses near the church and especially a large pit on the site in which lime was slaked for plastering purposes. Apparently this was also a temporary supply of material for marking the pitch and prior to the match on Saturday a detail was organised to secure a bucket of lime without getting caught by the night watchman. On one occasion however the club marketing party was apprehended and in the ensuring spirit to escape towards Barlow Moor Road, one luckless chap thought the sand covered lime pit was solid ground and ended up in the pit covered from lime from head to foot. Rather than risk a recurrence of this unfortunate incident the watchman became a co-operative friend of the club and the weekly bucket of lime was made available without hindrance.
THE ROARING TWENTIES 16 Oct, 2014

Following election to the L & C League the club was placed in Divisions 1 and A as the competitions recommenced in the 1920-1921 season, and indeed this was to be the first of 25 consecutive seasons in the top flight lasting until 1951-52.

The Twenties was also to the be most successful era in the 75 year history with both teams achieving honours on a total of 14 different occasions during the ten years to 1930. The first of these went to the second team who claimed runners-up badges in Division A when they finished behind Urmston at the end of their maiden season.

Local interest in the club was substantial and spectators often travelled with the team and officials to away fixtures, and an away trip to Southport in the Lancashire Amateur Cup in the 1921-22 seasons was significant for two reasons.

The first relates to another humorous anecdote recalled by former chairman Bert Ludden and concerning a slightly built but excellent winger named Collier playing outside left, but who had not seen a great deal of the ball during the first half. At the interval one Southport supporter was heard to remark “…that lad’s being starved…” and unfortunately this comment was interpreted rather too literally by Mrs Collier who was within earshot and who proceeded to give the gentleman a large and colourful piece of her mind.

Sadly this match saw the beginning of the end of the playing career of Jonny Wragg who sustained a severe injury during the course of the match and was forced to stop playing soon afterwards as this injury frequently recurred. He then threw his weight into committee service from then until 1929-30 and again from 1936 to the outbreak of the Second World War.

1922-23 saw the first eleven register their first honours when finishing as runners-up to Royton in Division 1 and also reaching the Rhodes Cup final. As we have already mentioned, WEST DIDSBURY was akin to a village club and this final induced several coachloads of spectator to travel to Urmston for what turned out to be the most eventful Rhodes Cup final in the history of the league. (The Rhodes Cup was named after H W Rhodes, League President from 1909-1934).

The opposition were Bradford Parish, a young up and coming side who had just won promotion as champions of Division 2. At the end of normal time the scores were level and extra time also failed to produce a decision. Both teams were leg weary but ordered to play a second period of extra-time, and Bradford Parish found themselves reduced to 9 fit men as two of their players were too exhausted to continue. The West Didsbury team refused to play on against only 9 men and so the officials had no alternative but to replay the final and ironically Parish won this match and lifted the cup. Bradford Parish won 2-0 with both goals coming from penalties scored by Jimmy Hampson who went on to higher things with Manchester United and Blackpool. However the attitude of the West Didsbury club did not go unnoticed and league officials were so impressed that a special plaque was commissioned and presented to the club to commemorate their sportsmanship.

The following year, 1923-24, and it was a case of runners-up honours again as the League introduced a new Aggregate Trophy awarded to the club whose 1st and 2nd eleven achieved the highest combined points total for both divisions. The obvious strength in depth at West Didsbury was reflected when the club finished with 60 points just behind Urmston who won the new trophy.

So, after four years of league membership West Didsbury had been the ‘bridesmaid’ in every competition – Divisions 1 & A, the Rhodes Cup and the Aggregate Trophy, but the first outright success was to follow immediately in the 1924-25 seasons. It was the Aggregate Trophy which was secured ahead of rivals Bramhall, and although Bramhall had pipped the 1st eleven in Division 1, the combined points haul of 62 proved enough to at least see the name of WEST DIDSBURY engraved on a Trophy after all the near misses.

One interesting footnote in the records mentions th performance of full-back Lester Edwards (imperturbable with a cool head and around judgement) whose goal in a 7-1 home victory over Cheadle Hulme in February 1925 was his first in the L & C League in which he began playing with another club in 1911-12.

In 1925 new dressing rooms were erected as the club moved across Christies to occupy a pitch vacated by Old Trafford St. John’s who had found a new ground in the Old Trafford area. Funds to cover this and the usual expenses were raised by dances and whilst drives held in the West Didsbury Public Hall on Burton Road, and this was also the venue for entertaining visiting opponents after Lancashire Amateur Cup Ties when refreshments and a dance were often organised.

Match publicity was a regular feature with weekly posters prepared and displayed on the pavilion at Christies and outside the newsagents on Lapwing Lane. The notice board here also carried the weekly teamsheets and became a common meeting place for the players to debate the committee’s team selection after their Monday evening meeting. For a short time also a local photographer took match photographs and put these on display in his studio window near Nell Lane. Unfortunately none of these survive, but it may be that some of the early team photographs were his work.

Although the 1926-27 season was described as ‘Erractic’ by the secretary in his summary of the year, nevertheless the Rhodes Cup was captured for the first time as Davenport were overcome in the final, and the team ‘… so satisfied J C Edwards’s desire for an ornament on his sideboard’. In fact the assault on the Rhodes Cup of that season began and finished on South Manchester’s pitch as they provided the opposition in the first game and also hosted the final. The detailed record in that cup-winning run was as follows:

January 8th 1927
South Manchester
(A)
4-1
(Brierley, Holmes, Massey, J Pyatt)
February 5th 1927
Chapelmoor
(H)
7-3
(Massey 5, Brierley, J Pyatt)
March 5th 1927
Bramhall
(N)
6-2
(Stanway, Holmes, Robinson, F Pyatt, Brierley 2)
April 2nd 1927
Davenport
(Final)
2-1
(Holmes & Brierley)

The following players represented the club in the competition:

Foulkes (goal), J Robinson, F Pyatt Jnr., A Foulkes, C Murgatroyd, G Goddard, A Greaves, J Pyatt, R Tinsley, A Stanway, F Noble, T Brierley and A Holmes.

Whilst the first eleven were winning the cup the second eleven again finished runners-up in Division A, to Longsight, and in the Aggregate Trophy the club were also runners-up, this time to South Salford.

1927-28 saw the Aggregate Trophy won for the second time from South Salford who reversed the roles in Division 1 after a play-off match to decide the championship. This match was described in the press as a ‘fitting climax to the season’s even contest for scores were level in the 124th of the 130 minutes admirable match’, eventually won 4-1 by Salford after extra time. The second team were runners-up to Royton in Division A which left both teams runners-up for the third time.

The disappointment of the second team was somewhat compensate for when Royton were defeated in the inaugural final of the League’s latest competition, the Subsidiary Cup, after a 2-2 draw in the first game. However this turned into a long saga when WEST’s 5-3 victory in the replay was annulled by the league as Royton protested about the inclusion of R Tinsley in the West Didsbury team, as he had just completed 32 games in the first team that season!! The replay was ordered to be replayed as the league also discovered that Royton were far from innocent and had included a former professional in their side. Eventually the third meeting between the clubs saw West victorious by 3-0 at the start of the next season as all the disputes meant that the game had to be held over until September 1928.

The league title continued to elude both teams and as the Twenties ended the second team finished runners-up yet again. Division A had been extended into two sections of nine clubs each and although West Didsbury won Section A, were defeated 1-0 by the winners of Section B, Union Chapel of Fallowfield, in the Championship play-off.

The sizeable local support continued to follow the fortunes of the club as former L & C League President, Mr W A Williamson recalls:

“I as a player with Bradford Parish in the later 1920’s and early 30’s remember many hard battles with West Didsbury who in those days were one of the very best teams in the League. The ground at Christies was surrounded two or three deep all round the pitch, such was the interest in the leading Lancashire and Cheshire League sides”.

So the club completed its first ten years in the L & C League having quickly established itself as one of the top teams of the Twenties, and without doubt this was the most successful period in the history of the WEST DIDSBURY club to date.

THRIFTY THIRTIES 16 Oct, 2014

The period from 1930 to the outbreak of the Second World War saw the club continue in the top divisions of the league, but without the same success as the first ten years of membership of the Lancashire and Cheshire League.

The close rivalry of the Twenties with Royton Amateurs was renewed in the course of the 1930-31 season when the two clubs met no less than five times in premier competition, the three extra meetings resulting from a long drawn out 1st round tie on the Lancashire Amateur Cup.

The first tie was played at Royton on 1 November 1930, and by half-time West Didsbury were 3-=0 ahead only for the referee to abandon the second half as the pitch was then considered unfit.

The replay took place the following Saturday, again at Royton, and just when the match looked to be heading for a draw with the score at 2-2, the crossbar snapped in the 83rd minute and the tie was again abandoned.

The second replay at Christies produced the first complete 90 minutes of the tie and West Didsbury progressed to the next round 5-3 winners.

The teams finished that season with respectable league positions of 5th and 4th respectively, and whilst the first team improved their performance the following season with only four defeats this was not enough to prevent South Salford from taking the title and we finished runners-up in Division 1 for the 4th time.

Indeed this 1931-32 campaign was to be the last occasion when the club gained honours in the premier division.

The second team meanwhile reached the final of the Subsidiary Cup that same year (1932) for the second time only to loose by the odd goal in eleven to Heald Green. In an exciting final played at Cheadle Heath, the current club President, Norman Priestley, was one of the West Didsbury scorers in the 5-6 result. Norman writes about that game:
“The line up then of course was five forwarded, three half-backs, two full-backs and a goalkeeper and I was right half whose job it was to mark their inside-left. Nearing the end of the game the score was 5-5 and then this inside-left gathered the ball in midfield and had a great run to score the winning goal. My main memory of the match is of standing well upfield watching his sickening progress to ultimate success. The pang of regret experienced then is still there whenever that match is recalled”.

Another member of that final team was W Allen whose initial performances earned the following comment in the record book… ‘Allen would be better advised if he paid the same attention to avoiding offside positions as he does to checking them after the referee’s decision’. Norman Priestley frequently played in the same side and comments:

“Billy Allen was a great forward and scored with equal facility by head or foot, and if he was in the forward line it seemed only a matter of time before he scored’.

He continued to greater things gaining a Lancashire County F A badge and then moved to Stalybridge Celtic where he played in the Cheshire League until the war. Unfortunately his playing career was ended when he broke a leg playing for his squadron side in the R A F, Billy then took up refereeing and became the first person to both play for and referee the Lancashire and Cheshire League representative side.

Unfortunately there is a gap in the playing records of the seasons 1932-33, 1933-34 and 1934-35, which means there is no accurate picture of how the club reached the Rhodes Cup Final for the third time. The L & C League records show that it was third time unlucky in 1934 and that South Salford lifted the trophy. This was no disgrace and certainly no surprise as the same League records show that South Salford were 1st Division champions from 1925-26 to 1936-37 (twelve successive seasons) and at the same period won the Rhodes Cup on 6 successive occasions from 1930-31 to 1935-36, a record which no other club is ever likely to equal.

It appears that the mid-thirties were not the happiest of times for the club, and the record of the A G M held in St. Luke’s School, Burton Road, on 5 May 1936, reveals that things were not what they should have been, particularly on the financial side. Treasurer Johnny Edwards reported a loss on the season which he had borne out of his own pocket. The Secretary criticised the loss, and that a section of the members had apparently made little effort towards meeting the loss which was actually owing to the Treasurer himself. He thought it was ‘a very poor appreciation of the Treasurer’s efforts and generosity’ and intimated that he himself was ‘not prepared to carry on with his duties unless these members showed better appreciation of their duty to the club’.

The report continued to mention the poor performances on the field and the fact that relegation had just been avoided, but that in distressing circumstances he thought the loyalty of the players should be placed on record, whilst criticising a minority on the committee for their poor attendance at 2nd XI away games.

Before the election of officers members heard that Johnny Edwards was resigning and after a discussion it was agreed to carry the club on despite the adverse financial situation and the loss of such experienced administration as Mr Edwards.

Those committee members whose interest was minimal also resigned and Messers. Goddards, Wragg and Luddem set to work getting the club back on its feet having been elected by the other members. A small body of players were asked to formulate schemes for the raising of revenue as early as possible. The League were advised of the change of committee, but before this was accepted the trio had to appear at a meeting of the League Management Committee to indicate whether they knew how to keep minute books and records and generally to run the club. Happily they acquitted themselves well and at the meeting Johnny Edwards who was also on the League Management Committee, addressed the gathering and gave the newly elected committee his support.

Contributions were then received from all the players to avert the imminent financial problems and profits made from other fund raising ventures. The result of this was that half of the money owed to Johnny Edwards was repaid, and the balance cleared at the end of the following season. The club was soon back on a secure financial footing and amicable relations restored with Johnny Edwards who continued to be the father figure at the club for many years to come.

In 1938 Cliff Hughes became club secretary, taking on the job from Harry Wragg who had been with the club for many years since its earliest days as Christ Church A F C. on his resignation Harry received an inscribed gold watch which read:

‘Presented to Mr W H Wragg by the members of WEST DIDSBURY FOOTBALL CLUB in appreciation of his loyal service 1910 to 1938’

Little did anyone realise that the new secretary was to also serve loyally for over thirty years, and that the name of Cliff Hughes was to become synonymous with the West Didsbury club.

THE 40s – Business as Usual 16 Oct, 2014
As the political situation in Eurpoe became more and more tense and the rumour of war grew stronger, West Didsbury hads their final taste of success in the Thirties on 22 April 1939 when the second eleven defeater Sough Manchester 4-1 to take the Subsidiary (Wray) Cup for only the second time since winning it in the first season of the competition.

Team: Simpson, Smith, Penlington, Powis, Yates, Hughes, Tomkinson, King, Salter, Mansour and Gutersohn (12th man Smallshaw).
Scorers: Salter 2, King and Mansour.

This cup of cheer was some comfort to the club as the first elevent had just complted its worst ever season with only 5 victories and 5 draws out of 26 matches in the league and whilst only managing 15 points, still managed to avoid relegation by 1 point. This was a surprising end to a season which had started brightly enough, but a clump set in after 4-0 win over Denton on 31 December 1938. The team then played 12 successive league games to complete its programme and failed to win any of them.

At this point both the history of the club and the L & C League were overtaken by events with the outbreak of the Second World War and despite the League Handbook hopefully showing a full and normal fixture list for the 39-40 season, the club’s own record books show that the only games played were friendlies against teams from all Divisions of the League. Whilst we continued to field a team until 27 April 1940, the poignancy of what was happening with the League is best summarised by reference to a footnote in the same club records which simply reads:

‘Discontinued on 9 March 1940, owing to shortage of playing members, CH’

Nevertheless, an Annual General Meeting was held on the 20 May 1940, when Cliff Hughes outlined the difficulties the club had to deal with owing to the outbreak of hostilities, and congratulated members on their loyal support which had come at a time when it was most needed. The future of the club was discussed in view of the grave circumstances through which the country was then passing, and the general opinion was that the club should be kept in being if we were only to devote our efforts to junior football. It was agreed that this should be done and the ground kept on, and officials were then elected.

The club also organised a COMFORTS FUND for members already serving or soon to serve in the armed forces, and Harry Wragg, former secretary, took on the job of operating this. Donations were given by club members and friends not in the forces and Harry then faithfully wrote to the servicemen and sent them a regular postal order and letter which proved to be a welcome contact during the war and those who returned were able to re-join West Didsbury once the turmoil of war had ceased. Sadly Mr Wragg passed away during the war years and the task of continuing the Comforts Fund was taken over by Mr Hall who kept the correspondence going until the fund was closed in 1946.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

A General Meeting was held on 8th April 1946 which opened with a few minutes silence in memory of those members of the club who had died during the six years of war. Club Chairman, Bert Luddem, then put to the 35 members present.

“…the matter of West Didsbury A F C recommencing activities in season 1946-47, Cliff Hughes had secured the ground and there was a balance of £17. 3. ½ d. to kick off with”.
Johnny Edwards gave a brief resume of the history of the club since its inception and how the same difficulties had been met and overcome after the Great War of 1914-18. He continued…

“I am very pleased at the fine turn up at tonight’s meeting which shows that the interest is there, and together with the fact we have a ground and a substantial balance, suggests well for the future. I have no hesitation in saying West Didsbury should re-start in 1946-47”.

Bert Ludden was re-elected Chairman with Cliff Hughes as Secretary, and Messrs. Foster, Kelly, Winterburn, Cooper, Ginger, O’Brien and Boyle elected en bloc as the Committee with C Yates as Treasurer. Johnny Edwards was also given the right to attend any committee meeting in an ex-officio capacity.

The next meeting in June 1946 was devoted to the question of the dressing rooms at Christies as the roof was in need of repair. Jack Foster took on the job of organising this and all was made ready for the start of the season.

Competitive football was resumed on 21 September 1946, when pre-war giants and old rivals South Salford entertained West Didsbury in the opening fixture of the 1946-47 season which ended in a high scoring 5-5 draw. This was an indication of the closeness of the two sides at this time and later the same season as epic Lancashire Amateur Cup tie kicked off at Cleaveley Farm, on 14 December. The first game ended 3-3 after extra time and the replay was again deadlock at 2-2 after extra time. The Manchester Evening News takes up the story of the third meeting under the headline ‘They fought 5 hours for Vital Cup Goal’.

“It took 5 hours to decide the Lancashire Amateur Cup tie between West Didsbury and South Salford, and West Didsbury won through the minimum scoring advantage. Extra time was again necessary in the final replay, but it need not have been. The losers did most of the attacking, but failed, expect once, to get the all important goals.

There were four occasions when colleagues skilful co-operation culminated in a Salfordian being in unchallenged position, within easy scoring range, and yet failing to finish off the efforts.
McCoy’s agile saving of a penalty, Behrens sound full-back display, Howarth’s competence at centre half and a goal each by Matthews and Todd were the other factors in West Didsbury’s favour of a just result.

Among some 500 spectators, West Didsbury Committee men of more than 20 years standing, Messrs F & J Pyatt, J & L Edwards, K McKay and B Luddem, were especially welcome”.

Again it is interesting to remark on the high attendance at the game, reflecting the earlier comments of former League President, Mr W Williamson about the size of local support for amateur clubs.
Despite this encouraging result in the cup, the 46-47 season itself was a hard struggle with senior status narrowly retained as a reslt of sharing the points with Bradford Parish in a 1-1 draw in the last match of the season. “Full back Behrens and middlemen Durkin, Mould and Goddard were outstanding in Didsbury’s improved team”.

This brief flirtation with the threat of relegation and an end to those successive years of 1st Division membership since joining the league, seems to have concentrated the minds and efforts of all in a wonderful way and a few months later we were again to the fore as the club went to the top of the First Division and indeed kept up their challenge to at last life the title until March 1948.

Plumbed Depth – Now ‘TOPS’ said the Evening News….

“West Didsbury who narrowly averted relegation in the Lancashire and Cheshire League 1st Season today lead the senior division! This recovery says a lot fort the team unity inspired by captain Denis Hall and also speaks well for the executive enthusiasm and efficiency of secretary Cliff Hughes and the committee”

This press comment proved somewhat premature when three defeats in three successive weeks meant 3rd place behind Morton and champions Bradford Parish.

The second team finished a place higher as runners up to Rusholme in Division A, and then to everyone’s delight won the subsidiary (Wray) Cup defeating East Chorlton 2-0 in the final.

Team: Wain, White, Brame, Daniels, Mould (Captain), McNamara, Callaghan, Behrens, Curlett, Goddard, Kelly (12th man – Buckley).
Scorer: McNamara 2

“The game was well contested and another example of the high standard of play in the reserve sections”. (Manchester Evening news 30 April 1948).

However, the title everyone wanted to win, that of the First Division, continued to elude the ‘Bury despite several newspaper reports suggesting that this omission from the club honours was about to be remedied.

A tremendous unbeaten run from December 1948 to March 1949 pulled the club to the top of the table, but a surprise defeat by Rusholme and a 3-1 reversal at Monton in the final game of the season left West Didsbury in third place behind Monton who took the title.

That was to be the last serious challenge for the title and the next few years saw a downward trend in performances from 3rd place in 48-49, to 6th in 49-50, and 10th position in 50-51.

This poor league form was in marked contrast to some fighting performances in the Lancashire Amateur Cup campaign of 50-51 when the club hit the headlines in every round…

“…the feat of West Didsbury in succeeding 2-1 at Ainsdale was outstanding. Men of the match were skipper Dugdale, wing-half Goddard and deputy goalkeeper Ashmore”.

In the second round it was off to Southport for a fine 5-4 win at Southport Trinity “Curiosity of West Didsbury’s win was that they were only level 2-2 at healf time but had scored all the goals. Wraxall was in deadly form and scored four goals while Costin had the distinction of scoring for both teams…”

Jack Costin gained further ‘distinction’ when he was capped for Cheshire F.A., before moving to Altrincham where he also gained an F.A. Amateur v The Royal Marines in December 1952.

The luck of the draw was again unkind in the next round with the third away tie eventually ending in a 4-2 win for Collegiate O.B. a well known Liverpool amateur side after ‘a thrilling battle’.
“…the “Bury who twice led through Wraxall and Hargreaves later tired under sustained pressure and owed much to Ashmore who was brilliant in goal, and Dugdale and Hall both dour defenders, for keeping the score down”.

The 50s – FIFTY NOT OUT 16 Oct, 2014
OUR WORST SEASON EVER

On 22 April 1952, what had long been the unthinkable became a reality as Rusholme won a relegation play-off 3-1 to send the “Bury into Division 2 for the first time in the history of the club and end the successive years in the top flight since 1920-21. Apparently the match was a closely fought contest according to the City News of 2 May 1952…

“West Didsbury who now accompany Old Standians into Division 2 might consider themselves a little unfortunate that they lost the play-off with Rusholme by 3-1 as their final finishing which sometimes might have been better was, however, completely luckless…”

Despite this sympathetic comment from the newspaper reporter, secretary Cliff Hughes was mre concise and blunt in his appraisal of the season’s efforts and wrote in the scrapbook…

“The first occasion West Didsbury have been relegated to Division 2. Our worst season ever”.

This sad turn in the playing fortunes of the club was somewhat ironic as most of the close season of 1951 had been spent toiling at Christies when several volunteers lent a hand in the construction of new dressing room space and better washing facilities.

The work was undertaken by Jack Foster and Edwin Boot, who worked together, and having obtained some old shelters, there were erected and new washing facilities installed. Bert Hughes (brother of Cliff) and Harold Dugdale did the plumbing to the wash basins and a new sunken bath was built out of glazed bricks by another local supporter.

Incidentally, Jack Foster and treasurer Jack Kelly were both awarded League Ties then to mark their long and consistent service to the Lancashire and Cheshire Amateur League.

BOUNCING BACK

Vice-president, Ray Gill, now living in Vancouver, Canada, describes 51-52 as a ‘stand out memory’ and continues…

‘The pact the team made when we were demoted to the Second Division was that we would come back in one year and place West Didsbury back in the 1st Division where they belonged. We were runners up in 52-53 and would have ended up champions if we had played with the consistency we should have”.

This venture into the Second Division was tackled with resolution and by the end of the 1952-53 programme spirits were high again as senior status was immediately regained through finishing as runners-up to our partners in relegation the previous season, Old Standians. The second team were also twice in the honours as runners-up in both Division B, and the Subsidiary (Wray) Cup Final. Tribute was paid to these achievements in the Manchester Evening news and also to the efforts of… ‘dauntless executive leaders, Chairman H Luddem, Secretary C Hughes, Treasurer J Kelly and committee colleagues’, and apt comment on what has traditionally been one of the strengths of the club throughout its long history.

The return to the First Division was consolidated in 1953-54 but in 1954-1955 relegation again loomed large and some fighting results away from home towards the end of the season meant that the drop was avoided. For the next few years there was little sign of the consistent form needed to challenge for honours, but at least the 50th Anniversary season of 1957-58 was spent in Divisions 1 and A.

50 NOT OUT

This Golden Jubilee Season was again one preceded by more voluntary work on the pavilion at Christies which impressed the Football news to comment

“Visiting teams will have a pleasant surprise when they visit West Didsbury Amateurs’ new look pavilion and baths. ‘All our own work’ says Treasurer Jack Kelly. And very nice too, it’s a credit to the club and the league”.

The club’s proud record in the Lancashire and Cheshire League was also the subject of several remarks and in particular that during their association only one season had been spent in Division 2.

Whilst the club was celebrating its 50th birthday, one of the most lyal players Denis Hall was celebrating himself with his 400th game for the club in the opening game of the Jubilee season, a fact that did not escape the notice of the Football Pink whose headline on 14 September 1957 read…

‘400 games – and still he is Denis the Menace’

‘Familiarity breeds contempt? Not among Lancashire and Cheshire amateur league defenders who have had to face up to Denis Hall – and they had to that often enough for he has played 400 games for West Didsbury.

It’s a magnificent record which he set in the opening game of the season – and he demonstrated to promoted East Didsbury that he has lost none of his skill or snap’.

Later that same season the Football News added their comment…

‘After 20 years with West Didsbury, Denis Hall is still playing and skippering the first team. What he had lost in speed is offset by his know how of the short cuts to the right place at the right time’.

The inspiration of this experience was frequently referred to in match reports and playing performances that year were the best of the Fifties spell in the top division with another challenge for that elusive championship title. Yet again it was not to be, and there was little celebration of the 50th birthday.

The cost of maintaining the pavilion at Christies had proved to be quite a drain on financial resources even with voluntary labour, and there were no funds in the kitty to lay out for any celebrations, and instead a large contingent marked the occasion by attending the Lancashire and Cheshire league dinner in force.

It should be remembered that maintenance of the changing rooms and pitch were the responsibility of the club until relatively recently when new changing rooms were built in 1972. at the time of the 50th Anniversary the composition of the Playing Field Society changed and one of their first decisions was to raise the ground rent at Christies.

As the Fifties drew to a close so did the proud boast of only one season in Division 2, as the club were relegated again at the close of the 1959-60 season when only a meagre 17 points were achieved. In contrast to the previous venture into the 2nd Division when the club immediately bounced back to the top flight, the 60-61 season was to be the first of six hard seasons spent trying to return to the elite of the league. The cause wasn’t helped very much by the confusion caused in November 1960 when a mistake sent the second team to play the first team fixture at Heywood GSOB. Not surprisingly they lost 6-1, but the first team had to struggle at home to overcome Heywood’s second team, and scraped through by the only goal.

THE SIXTIES SLIDE 16 Oct, 2014

Despite the Second Division status, the club’s cup fighting spirit was again evident in the 1962-63 Lancashire Amateur Cup campaign when two excellent results were achieved. In the first round we went to Southport and pulled off one of the best wins of the round beating Hesketh Casuals 2-0, and this was followed by another trip to the seaside in the second round when we came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against Morecombe GSOB, and then to win the replay 2-1 by scoring the winner two minutes from time.

League performances were still inconsistent and indeed in 63-64, relegation to Division 3 was only avoided by some new signings who arrested a series of disappointing results and pulled the club away from the basement of the Second Division.

In December 1963, Johnny Edwards, at that time club President, died at his home in Blackpool, and was sadly missed by many still associated with the club who remembered him for all his sterling work in re-forming both West Didsbury and the Lancashire and Cheshire League in the 1920’s.
In the 1964-65 season both teams showed great improvement with the second team chalking up another success as champions of Division B after beating Bramhall 3-1 in a play-off for the title. However as the first team weren’t promoted (they finished 4th) the seconds had to stay in Division B because of the league rules that 1st eleven status determined that of the second team also – a rule only changed in the late 1970’s.

This disappointment was only to last a few months as the first team were promoted at the end of the following year (65-66) as runners up to Old Standians, champions by a point.

Two excellent cup victories were recorded earlier that same season when two of the semi-finalists of the previous season’s Lancashire Amateur Cup were accounted for. Firstly North Withington were beaten 2-0 in the opening round and this was followed by a 4-1 home victory over Old Xaverians. These results impressed the Football Chronicle which reported:

“…West Didsbury have knocked out both last season’s beaten semi-finalists in the first two rounds of the Lancashire Amateur Cup. Their victory over Liverpool Old Xaverians was achieved despite only nine fit men for most of the second half”.

An away fixture at Burnley GSOB proved the end of the cup run by 3-1.

The confidence gained in that promotion season of 1965-66 came to the fore in the early stages of the 1966-67 programme, but over anxiety to impress was headlighted by the Football Chronicle…

‘Promoted West Too Anxious”

“…at the moment West Didsbury are too anxious. Before the season started they played four friendlies and scored 43 goals. Centre forward Jack Roberts got 14, winger Eddie Austin 8, and they went into their league programme full of vigour and fight.

In their first match v Old Stretfordians they tore into the opposition and were 3 up in 20 minutes. But then Strets. came back and West just managed a point 3-3.

It was the same v Wythenshawe Amateurs, West set off at a terrific pace and were 3-0 up at 24 minutes. In the second it was nearly all Wythenshawe and West could only manage a draw 3-3.

Had they paced themselves they might have won both games”.

Indeed in the first five games they picked up only 4 pints but then having adjusted to the pace of the division they settled to become ‘a composed methodical side’, and lost only one of the subsequent 9 league and cup games.

The Lancashire Amateur Cup was the stage for yet another thrilling cup performance with the opposition, Odyssey from Liverpool, at that stage unbeaten leaders of the powerful I-Zingari league, having only dropped one point all season when they came to Christies on 19 November 1966. the Manchester Evening News picks up the story as…

‘West Ruin Record’
“Crack Liverpool team Odyssey looked all set to keep their unbeaten record when they twice led West Didsbury in the Lancashire Amateur Cup, but unluckily for them the home side have little respect for reputations. Undeterred by their reverses the Lancashire and Cheshire side hit back twice to pull off a thrilling 3-2 win. Malcolm Maginn equalised both Odyssey goals and Roy Gardiner hit the winner”.

It was a case of backs to the wall again in 1967-68 with relegation only just avoided as we finished third from bottom, and the respite was to be short lived as a pitiful total of 17 points came from the 68-69 season and it was back to Division 2.

In February of that season there was ‘Mutiny in the Mud’ when West were at home to Bradford Parish in the Whitehead Cup replay. At the interval West were leading 2-0 but Parish rallied strongly and drew level 2-2. at this stage three West Didsbury players wet through and probably ‘fed up and far from home’ called it a day and retired to the warmer confines of the dressing room. The remaining 8 men manfully packed their goal but could not prevent Bradford Parish from snatching the winner!

This disenchantment seemed to become much more widespread in the ‘60s and this period saw the rise in the popularity of Sunday football, and there can be no doubt that this had an effect on the strength of the club, and indeed others competing in amateur circles on Saturday afternoon. Club Secretary at that time, Cliff Hughes, took up the story in the Evening news as follows:

“Sunday football has definitely had an effect on the Saturday game. There are far more teams nowadays and if some players know they can get a game on Sundays they wont bother playing Saturday and may go to watch City or United instead. West Didsbury have been beset by this problem ever since Sunday soccer really began to catch on in the early 1960’s. at least they know their regulars are likely to stay loyal because in true amateur fashion they still pay 40 pence every time they play”.

THE 70s – RHODES CUP SUCCESS 16 Oct, 2014

Twenty-two points and 9th place in Division 2 was the outcome of the 1969-70 league effort, but no-one seemed to mind as the Rhodes Cup was prised away from Monton Amateurs with West Succeeding by 3-2 after extra time. This was our only second success in the league’s premier Cup competition, the previous triumph being in 1927. The following teams were accounted for during the cup run:

13 December 1969
Cheadle Heath
(H)
4-1
(T Jordan 2, D Lovatt & K Tidmas)
3 January 1970
Mantact
(A)
2-2
(K Tidmas & o.g)
10 January 1970
Mantact
(H)
9-1
(K Jordan 4, M Maginn “, B Jones, K Tidmas & J Golder)
17 January 1970
Birch Vale & T’St
(H)
2-1
(T Jordan & M Maginn)
31 January 1970
Hazel Grove
(A)
4-1
(D Lovatt, K Bradbury & T Jordan)
14 March 1970
Rusholme
(H)
2-1
(D Lovatt 2)
16 April 1970
Monton Amateur
(Final)
3-2
(D Lovatt 2, T Jordan)

One of our current Vice-presidents, Brian Cripps, played in that game and remembers it well…

We had performed tremendously well to reach the Final as we were still only a Second Division side, matched in the final with Monton Amateurs, a side which had dominated the Lancashire and Cheshire Leagues for a number of years.

In the earlier rounds we had beaten Rusholme in a real local derby at Christies and my memory of the 2-0 win was of Roland Farley completely blotting out their midfield general at the time, Tim Poole. Other rounds are difficult to remember, even the semi-final, but the final still remains one of the highlights of my footballing memories. For us to reach the final was enough in some eyes and we were not given much chance against a side containing many members of the then current league representative side.

The game kicked off in the early evening with an almost capacity crowd (at least 100!) seeing West under constant early pressure and for the first 20 minutes it was Monton v Howard Johnson in goal. He performed heroics and kept us in the game but eventually they scored but gradually we clawed our way back into the game and deserved our equaliser just before half time. The scorer was Dave Lovatt, still very young but to those who can remember him an excellent and cool customer in front of goal.

Monton scored another, before half time I think, but we were very much in the game and ran Monton off the park in the second half and deservedly equalised yet again to put the game into what we thought was a replay. As we had never been given a chance of even a draw no-one had bothered to ask what happened in the event! However the ref. called up together and extra time was started in what was by now a decidedly dusky atmosphere. We had not at that stage used our sub so we switched brothers Bradbury, Martin for Kevin, and kicked off. The game ebbed and flowed and have everything you could want in a Cup Final but I’ll always remember the feeling when Ken Tidmas’s corner was headed home by Terry Jordan and we held on for a win.

I was given the cup outside the dressing room, virtually in the dark, but surrounded by players and spectators and I was asked to say a few words. Again, on reflection, I suppose I’d never given this victory speech any thought but I remember I praised our team, our committee, our supporters and everyone else but forgot to mention Monton!

That night and the subsequent celebrations are still fairly vivid memories to me and to all connected with the club at that time, I should imagine.

I hope this recollection helps to inspire our present lads to emulate our feat. All the very best”

INSERT PHOTO – RHODES CUP WINNERS 69-70
Back to left to right: E. Cripps, R. Farley, G. Tidmes, T. Jordan, H. Johnston, J. Whitmore, G. ODonohue, F. Ousey, G. Newton.
Front: J.Golder, D. Lovatt, D. Scrannage, B. Gripps, K. Bradbury, D. Charlton, C. Hughes.

BACK WITH A BANG THEN SLUMP

This cup success had the desired boost on morale and proved the ideal launching pad for a further return to the First Division, as in 1970-71 we finished as runners-up to old rivals Bradford Parish although we had defeated them 3 times during that season, in both league fixtures and also in the Rhodes Cup quarter final.

ALAN PUTS THE BOOT IN!

There seems to have been varying interpretations as to the merits of the Rhodes Cup success amongst spectators at the game and the Football Chronicle remarked that…

“…even West Didsbury fans thought it was daylight robbery. West went ahead through Ken Tidmas in 3 minutes, and their second goal came 5 minutes before half-time from Danny Scrannage, but Parish had most of the play and didn’t deserve to be behind.

It was the same in the second half and after Devenport scored Parish looked set to get a hatful but they just couldn’t get the ball in the net again. They even had a penalty saved”.

Obviously this report did not please a certain spectator at that game and a week later the Chronicle was at it again…

“A West Didsbury supporter, Alan Boot, has taken me to task for describing the club’s Rhodes Cup win against Bradford Parish as daylight robbery”.

The unrepentant reporter continued however…

“As I said it was a Werst Didsbury fan on the touchline who used these words. I know because I was there! … There is no disputing West Didsbury are playing well and as Alan points out they haven’t been beaten since their 2-1 defeat by Salford Amateurs last October – a run of 15 league and cup games”.

Unfortunately these comments were a little untimely as we lost 1-0 to Moss Side Amateurs in the cup semi-final but enough points had been secured to attain promotion.

The return to the First Division was to a degree overshadowed by the uncertainty created by road proposals for the Barlow Moor Road/Princess Parkway junction and their impact on Christies as sixe full size pitches were reduced to three and the six clubs reduced to playing on alternate weeks with the reserve team games played elsewhere. In March 1971 the Chronicle asserted… ‘Work will start this year, not later than autumn’.

The second team were forced to move to Stenner Lane in Didsbury and the club’s ‘historic’ dressing rooms were demolished as a new brick pavilion was built to accommodate those teams using Christies. Re-location turned out to be a temporary affair and by 1997 both teams were back at Christies using one pitch as three of the six clubs upset by the pitch moves had either folded or found new headquarters, and still the work on the road improvements had not started, and indeed did not commence until 1980.

Staying in Division 1 in the early 70’s proved a struggle and in the second season back in the top flight, the club had its most disastrous season ever in this division and gained only 10 points to be relegated again 6 points clear of everyone else in April 1973.
Things went from bad to worse, and within the two seasons (1974-75) the clouds loomed blacker than ever as the first team won only three league games and went down to Division 3 for the first time ever, as it became increasingly evident that there was no longer the strength in depth which had characterised so much of the successful early days and there was a two-fold gulf between the 1st and 2nd teams, both physically between Stenner Lane and Christies, but more significantly in the ability of the players.

BACK TO THE ALBERT

At the start of the 1975-76 season it was recognised that there was a need for more coherence at the club to ensure the two teams were no longer separate, and to rekindle the family spirit which had been the hallmark of the halcyon days of the Twenties. What was needed was somewhere for the players and officials to meet together and so in November 1975 a letter was sent to the Albert Club on Old Lansdowne Road, who agreed to let the club use their facilities after the match on Saturday afternoons during the season, and also to let the club organise a Christmas Dance.

Both were immediate successes and at last the players began to feel part of a larger club again.

This after match discussion and exchange of ideas proved to be very fertile ground in which other ventures began to grow, and one which must be singled out is the development of a club newsletter, the brain child of David Beresford which first hit the streets of Manchester at the start of the 1976-77 season. Having received the blessing of the committee to the idea of a monthly magazine and the practical help of Ernie Cripps, Dave went to work with his typewriter, duplicating paper and an impish sense of humour. Soon the amusing anecdotes of the sane committee man paddling in the River Tame in green y-fronts became legend as did the antics of Dave Mort, Fallowfield’s answer to the India rubber man and the second team’s answer to a goalkeeping problem. Players and officials alike began to scour this monthly digest of news and match reports in search of libel, but the good humour generated by this newsletter coming hard on the heels of the move to the Albert Club, resulted in a new club spirit which began to manifest itself on the field also. The teams played with a good deal more enthusiasm and endeavour, and the 1976-77 season culminated with an exciting run taking the club to the final of the Whitehead Cup for the first time in May 1077.

Performances in the early rounds are recorded for posterity in Beresford’s ‘WHITEHEAD CUP SPECIAL’ edition of the newsletter where 1st team manager Brian Cripps commented…

“The first game v Birch Vale was hard fought but we came through 2-0 with a goal from Nigel Chantler and an own goal which helped consolidate the win.

The next round involved a trip to West Flixton whom we had well beaten in the league earlier in the season. However the cup proved a different matter and we were glad to come away with a 2-1 win, both goals coming from Chris Gratton.

The third tie brought Alderley St Phillips to Christies and after an early burst from them we ran out easy winners 5-1. Keith Selby scored 2 and Rob Turley and Alan Bushell scored one each. Their goalkeeper scored a bizarre own goal.

The semi-final was held at Bradford Parish’s ground at Mellands against Royton Amateurs and this was a very exciting and nail biting affair. They scored first midway through the first half but we fought hard for an equaliser. This came from a well struck free kick by Graham Cripps from just outside the penalty area. We were now getting well on top and scored a very good goal through Dave Stenger from a Brian Cripps corner. Unfortunately a lack of concentration in defence gave Royton a headed equaliser direct from a long throw. This extended the suspense! We weren’t finished yet and after a long run and pass from Rob Turley, Keith Selby notched the winner”.

So, on 5 May, the West Didsbury squad assembled at East Chorlton with a substantial backing from a large number of club members and former members amongst a crowd of about 200 to take on Heywood GSOB from Division 1.

WHITEHEAD CUP WINNERS

The resultant 2-0 victory was duly recorded in the Football Pink…

“Third Division West Didsbury inscribed their names on the Whitehead Cup for the first time with a superb win over 1st Division Haywood. Rob Turley gave West Didsbury the lead in the second half and wrapped it up with a second with 20 minutes to go after they had soaked up some tremendous pressure”.

Whitehead Cup Final – West Didsbury v Heywood GSOB at East Chorlton – 1976-77
Kick Off 6.30 pm

Team – H Johnston, R Riggall, J Neath, D Strenger, A Bushell, S Turley, G Knagg, G Cripps, K Selby, R Turley, C Gratton, Sub: N Chantler.

We had done very well to reach the final and a good crowd assembled to see us take on First Division opposition. We had a good well balance side, quietly confident we could achieve our first success in the Whitehead Cup.

The game was very competitive and Howard Johnston made a couple of early saves but he didn’t really look under pressure. Gradually we got hold of the game and early in the second half Rob Turley, from a Riggall throw-in, scored a typical opportunist goal. We then dictated the game, our back four, Riggall, Stenger, Bushell and Neath, covering splendidly in front of Howard, the midfield, G Cripps, S Turley and C Gratton, worked very hard and controlled the game with hard running and tackling, Rob Turley caused problems to their back four. To make the spectators happy, Rob tucked another away to give us a well deserved 2-0 victory and the cup for the first and only time in our history.

INSERT PHOTO – From the right: C. Gratton, K. Selby, G. Knagg, S. Turley ‘The Cup’ N. Chantler

The memory I have however, in addition to the pleasure of actually winning the cup, relates back to our then Chairman’s spying mission on Heywood in their game at Hazel Grove. He volunteered to give us a run down on our opponents and turned up just after the start. He took detailed notes on each of the players noting weaknesses and strengths where appropriate. He was a little disturbed however when at the end of the game those players he had been specifically noting started to take down the nets, he thought it very unusual for the visitors to take the nets down!! He had been told Heywood were in blue when in fact it was Hazel Grown and when asked what Heywood players were like he said he hadn’t notice – sorry Ray. All turned out well in the end, we won the Cup!

So the lean years since the Rhodes cup triumph had ended and a jubilant crowd made their way back to the Albert Club to celebrate in the traditional manner. Unfortunately the photographs of the evening were too blurred to reproduce.

The following season was started in fine style and West raced to the top of the division with 11 points from the first 6 games,, and continued along with Old Ashtonians to set the pace. On 7 January 1978 the teams stood 2nd and 3rd in their respective divisions with only 5 defeats between them in 27 games when disaster struck in the form of a long hard cold spell with snow and ice making football impossible for six weeks. Incredibly the effect of this together with injuries to key players in both sides saw the 1st team take only 6 points out of 16 and the 2nd team 7 points out of 18 to leave the final positions as 4th and 5th in Divisions 3 and C respectively. This was a bitter disappointment to all at the club particularly as we started the season so well.

Off the field the newsletter became a magazine with the assistance of several local shops who took advertising space thus enabling a printed cover and inside pages which all helped to give the ‘Bugle’ a more professional appearance.

1978-79 also opened with a bang as the first Saturday of the season saw the first team win 8-0 away at Old Traffordians and the 2nd team record a 6-0 success at home and hopes were again prematurely high. That was to be the last first team victory until November and there was never any serious challenge for league honours. The second team also lost their next few games and then began to rally losing only twice in 13 games to take then into contention for promotion with 3 games to play. The crucial game against Bedians saw the visitors win 1-0 and a last minute winner for UMH in the final game meant both these clubs went up and we missed out by one point. The weather again played havoc with the January and February fixtures, and indeed the season was so beset by bad weather that the the Whitehead Cup and Wray Cup were abandoned by the League.

The club was honoured by the Lancashire and Cheshire League once again when secretary, Frank Ousey, was elected to become President, the first official to be thus honoured since Johnny Edwards in 1948. Frank had been secretary for the club for eleven years and prior to joining West Didsbury played for Rusholme and South Manchester in the 1930’s and during the Second World War with the Royal Corps of Signals. Unfortunately, midway through his season in office, Frank was taken ill and had to spend several weeks in hospital. During this time his wife Jean carried on efficiently forwarding the mail and ensuring Frank’s absence was covered. Happily Frank made a strong recovery and soon after leaving hospital was well enough to attend the League Annual Dinner as President, in May 1980.

There were however no league honours for our playing performances and the attempts to get out of the Third Division again proved fruitless, although the second team again just failed to push their way upwards and finished in 3rd place.

The AGM saw the election of new committee officials as the hard working and reliable Ernie Cripps and Stan Cooke felt it was time to retire and also Frank Ousey decided to pass on the job of secretary but remain on the committee. Messrs. Cripps and Cooke were elected Vice-President s and together with many others still maintain a keen interest in the club.