South Shields Museum - Football

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curly
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South Shields Museum - Football

Post by curly »

I was in our "new" museum the other day and was surprised by an exhibit containing the England cap and medal awarded to Warnie Cresswell, the only South Shields player to represent England at football. Warnie won his first England cap in 1922 in a game against Scotland appearing as a left back, and it is this cap and medal which are exhibited.
The surprising thing is the size of the cap! Either, they awarded very small caps, or it has shrunk with the passage of time, or he was a very small full back!
Be that as it may, he was swiftly sold to Sunderland in 1922 for a then British record fee of £5,500 before eventually being transferred to Everton for another suitably large fee.
At the time of of his last appearance for South Shields, the Mariners ended up sixth in the second division (whilst Manchester United ended up thirteenth!) By time he was transferred to Everton, South Shields had been relegated to the third division north.
I understand that South Shields record home crowd at Horsley Hill Stadium (you know, where the dog stadium was, now known as the Stadium Estate) was some 38,000 against Derby County on a Wednesday afternoon. Apparently the Mariners played the majority of their home games on a Wednesday and that's why the town had a half day closing for many years later.
I remember many years later when Shields played in the Northern Intermediate (or was it Premier) Division, at Simonside Hall, decent sized crowds of 2/3000 turning out to watch the likes of Bert Garrow (goalie), Len Smith (centre forward, Eldon Sreet, and a devilish opening bat for Whitburn) and Gerry Donoghue (one of the most stylish wingers I have ever seen). I can particularly recall F.A. Cup third round games against Aldershot?, York City, and Queens Park Rangers (to whom we lost 2 - 1 in a replay at Loftus Road) these games attracted crowds of over 7,500 tightly squeezed in and hanging from the trees on Newcastle Road!
Alf McMichael, the former Newcastle half back, was manager at the time and Jack Leighton, who had a driving school and Leighton Motors on West Way was the Chairman. Jack later sold the club, and the ground for housing development, and became a pariah in this town! The club became reinvented as Gateshead long before a new South Shields club was formed.
To think that South Shields F.C. has such a rich history, and yet, as far as I know, none of it is in book form is astounding!!
I haven't even found a web site that details the history or achievements of the club.
If anybody has any anecdotal stories about the club's history or players. please post them and share them with us.

jimmywizz

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Post by curly »

Found some more old photo's here
http://members4.clubphoto.com/john30092 ... cons.phtml
I remember Stan Matthews playing at Roker Park for Stoke at the age of fifty, and he took the mickey out of Len Ashurst all afternoon.
Take a look at the old league tables, they're really interesting, Durham City, and Merthyr Town were in the league, and Manchester United in the same division as Shields.

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Post by curly »

It seems that my elderly informant has been a bit mistaken on some aspects of the club's history, the passage of time misting his memory perhaps: I've found this other interesting link
http://daverowlings.freeyellow.com/history.htm
:D

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Post by curly »

Here's an interesting exerpt from Stanley Mortensen's book (he played alongside Stan Matthews at Blackpool). Apologies about the length, but it's worth the read.

FOOTBALL IS MY GAME - Stan Mortensen (First published 1949)

Chapter IV The First trip To Blackpool

Wanted by South Shields Ex-Schoolboys F.C.- A match with any boys’ football team in Great Britain. Players’ ages under sixteen.

THE foregoing notice went to the sports editor of the North Mail. It had far-reaching effects for me, as it put me on the road to being a professional footballer.

The “challenge” appeared in print on 30th December, 1936, and it formed such an important place in my life that it is no wonder it occupies first page in the books of cuttings which my wife Jean keeps up to date for me.

Here I must mention another schoolmaster, Mr. John Young. He thought so much of the team which had reached the last sixteen of the Schools Shield that he decided it was too good to be broken up. I wonder if some day somebody will produce a team of world-beaters in that way—taking a set of lads, keeping them together, and training them into a first-class side. It’s a thought, but so obvious that it must have occurred to many people. There is probably a catch in it, somewhere. The catch lies in a fact. Take eleven promising lads good in wind and limb, and give them the same training and the same coaching. But they don’t all arrive at the same place, even under the same treatment. One or two-or, if in luck, an even greater proportion - have that little bit of something which no coach can put into a player. Temperament tells, too. That is by the way.

Mr. Young re-formed an old club known as St. Andrews, and called it South Shields Ex-Schoolboys Club. It was from St. Andrews that such players as Alec Lockie and George Ainsley joined Sunderland to start grand careers in League football; and the organisation was in fact a nursery for the famous Roker Park club. We liked the idea so much that we wore the Sunderland colours.
We had the advantage of having played together at school and were all pals, so we soon became a pretty hot combination. We were too good for any thing else in the district of the same age, and we won all sorts of prizes.

I was lucky to be in such a team, and to be able to play regularly, for it is in the fourteen to sixteen years period that many boys cannot find opportunities for serious football, and lose interest in the game. Shortage of pitches, lack of organised facilities, and the necessity for working for a living are all contributory factors to this state of affairs, which is on the way to being remedied, thanks to the keen interest of the Football Association through the county football associations.

An idea of the comparative strength of our Stanley Street team will be gained from the fact that at the end of December, when we had the cheek to throw out our nationwide challenge, we had only con ceded eight goals in four and a half months of football No centre-forward had managed a goal in that time against our captain and centre-half, Ronnie Sales. He was another who took up the game professionally, being one of my three pals of those days who signed for Newcastle United. The others were Bob Donaldson and Ernie Brown.

The answers to our challenge we’re soon forth coming. Two which were taken up came from Leeds and Blackpool. I have an idea that Blackpool’s interest in fixing a game had been aroused by their own scout in the South Shields area, who had been sending reports of our play to Bloomfield Road and was anxious that the Blackpool club officials should see us in action.

The first match was against a Leeds combination of boys of our own age, and they agreed to travel to the north-east to meet us before our own supporters.

Supporters? Oh yes, we had our regular little following at Stanley Street; and they were all real enthusiasts, who thought - as do all supporters - that there was nobody quite like us.

The South Shields club lent us their ground for the occasion, and the more spacious enclosure and bigger playing pitch really made conditions neutral, although of course we had the noisy encouragement of the loyal “Geordies “.

If we had been conceited about our prowess, we were soon pulled down a peg or two. For these Leeds youths, playing well, beat us 4—3. I scored two goals, so that I had no reason for personal dissatisfaction, but I couldn’t claim to be the star of the game. That honour went to a Leeds forward.

In their attack was a little fellow - I wasn’t very big, but I was bigger than this chap - with a rather square-cut chin, fine ball control, and an obvious longing to be up and doing around the other team’s goal. An attacking forward after my own heart, in fact. And like me, he scored two goals.

Years later he was to figure in two of the most sensational transfer moves in the game’s history and to play for his country. First he moved from Bradford to Newcastle United at a fee well into the five- figure class, and then later on he moved on to Sunderland for the then record fee of £20,050. The name? Len Shackleton of Arsenal (who let him go for nothing!), Bradford, Newcastle United, Sunderland, and England.

My mother watched this game. She had so often seen me dash off, boots under arm, to play football, and so often seen me come home dirty, tired, hurt, hungry but happy, yet she had never seen me on the field. Sometimes she must have wearied of the talk of football when Freddie Colthorpe was round at our house, but she had never so much as given a hint of discouragement, to my enthusiasm for the game - and now here she was at last sitting in the stand watching me play.

In the first ten minutes I met with a mishap. I went tearing in for a ball, sensing a chance of scoring, and ran full tilt into another player. I dropped like a log, and was carried off unconscious.

I did not know until long afterwards, but my mother was dreadfully upset. Friends sitting near comforted her, and soon I was back on the field, feeling as right as rain, with that wonderful capacity for recovery we have when we are kids. But the match was ruined for my mother, and I am told she did not see much of the rest of the game. Her eyes wandered round the stand, over the crowd, anywhere but on the field of play, for she was fearful of seeing me. hurt again.

That was her experience on seeing me play for the first time - and it was the last.

Strange but true. My mother has never watched me play football since that day at South Shields— although naturally she has followed my career with interest. She is content to read and hear about me, but wild horses won’t drag her to a match. She did not see even the Cup Final.

A year went by before we played Leeds in the return game, and around this time arrangements were also made to take up the Blackpool fixture. Meantime we were all growing up, getting stronger, improving our football, and of course we were now over the sixteen mark which was originally specified in our challenge when we offered to take on all corners.

It was Easter weekend, 1938, when we set off to play the Leeds team. Leeds United had made Elland Road ground available for the match. Once again they beat us; this time by the only goal of the game, so that they had proved themselves the better team.

This game was on Good Friday; and as soon as we had changed and had a meal we went on to Blackpool, with its promise of an exciting week-end by the seaside and a football match into the bargain. A seaside holiday—for “nowt “.

We had all looked forward to this part of the trip, and I daresay we were a noisy crew on the train which carried us out of Yorkshire and into Lancashire. But how exciting this weekend was to be, and what fateful consequences were in store for two of the players in that cheerful gang of lads, we did not know!

Boy-like, we spent the weekend seeing the sights. The weather was fine, there were huge crowds in the breezy town, and we were all fascinated by what we saw - the thronged promenade, the one and only South Shore, with its stalls, shows and fair ground. We walked miles trying to get everything in during the short time we had to spare. Not good for footballers’ legs - but nothing is impossible at that age!

Our match at Blackpool was early in the after noon of Easter Monday; a Blackpool reserve match was put on immediately afterwards. We won 3—2, and I was among the scorers.

It was a thoroughly good match, like those which had preceded it. Of one of the games against Leeds, a newspaper report and picture was captioned: “The Boys who Treated us to a Football Feast “, so we had justified ourselves even if beaten.

We had taken the games seriously. We had some training in the evenings; and we must have been keen on publicity even in those days, for I find on turning over my scrap-book that I have a picture of the team doing some physical jerks. We all look very serious as we try to touch our toes!

We were far from serious when, victorious, we trooped off the pitch at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool - just a crowd of happy youngsters, dirty but glowing with health and glad to have beaten our opponents, but gladder still to have taken part in a rousing match. We went into the dressing-rooms and wallowed in the big baths, enjoying to the full the hospitality of the club, who placed everything at our disposal.

As I finished dressing, Mr. Young told me that he wanted to speak to me. He took me to one side and said that the chairman of the Blackpool club, Mr. William Parkinson, wished to see me in his office.

I looked at Mr. Young, and he scarcely needed to say a word. I knew that the only business a League club chairman could have with a strange boy from the other side of England must be to do with football.

Bubbling over with excitement I made my way to the Blackpool offices - not a very impressive suite, for the whole ground is on the small side. I saw there a short, broadly-built man with an eye like a hawk’s. His first words would have been enough to damp the enthusiasm and expectancy of any footballer. For what he said was:

“Are you the inside-right? You looked bigger on the field.”

It was only in later years that I learned to recognise that this was a typical Parkinson approach. Had I been a little older, and more self-conscious, I might have wilted under that gaze and in face of such a questioning remark. But I was still on top of my little world, and I assured him that I was the inside-right, and that my name was Stanley Mortensen.

And then in one sentence the dreams of many nights came true, for without further ado he said:

“Would you like to become a Blackpool player?”

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The Mariners

Post by andysfootball »

Good Post Curly.

I was a Shields supporter throughout the mid to late 60's and early 70's.

The Leagues that we were in then were the Northern Counties League (used to play Scarborough, Blyth Spartans, Ashington, Workington Reserves, North Shields).......then the North Regional League where we used to play a lot of reserve teams from all the north east teams down as far as Hull and including Sunderland and Boro. We then went into the Northern Premier League which should have been the stepping stone to league football until we had to move to Gateshead for a second time due to the greed of a few people.

Here's a few names from the passed you may well remember on top of the one's already mentioned.

Len Rutherford, Bobby Elwell, Len Pigford, Norman Cardew, Billy Robinson, Malcolm Leask, Billy Thompson,Billy Graham, Dave Adams.

Before the QPR game we beat Oldham away 2-1, Potter and Smith the scorers. We had drawn at Simonside Hall and someone had chucked a bottle of Brown Ale at their keeper which made the television news!

Some other notable games in the cup were against Watford, Notts County and Scunthorpe. The year we folded we got within a whisker of Wembley losing away to Morcambe in a two legged semi of the FA Challenge trophy. I still remember the last league game at Simonside Hall a week or so later in May 1974. Still got some Simonside Hall souveniers!

Some memorable schoolboy matches attracted big crowds.... England v Germany and Ireland. Players included Mervyn Day, Butch Wilkins and Wilf Rostron

Stanley Mathews palayed at Simonside Hall with a Port Vale XI in the late sixties.......Jimmy Hill also played for Port Vale that night. The crowd was 12,000. We also got 12,000 against Hereford Utd in a Challenge match. We regularly would attract 6,000 against Sunderland reserves.

Len Smith started out his career as a keeper and finished as a centre forward. He non league form was prolific and he had a testimonial game against Queen of the South which attracted 8,000.

South Shields came within one vote of ending up in the Scotish League in the 70 or 71 season.

Marching out of the old farm building onto the ground itself there was always an overwhelming stench of linament accompanied by the tune March of the Mods.

The crowd chant was THEEEEEE Mariners.

As many people as would possibly fit onto old railway sleepers used to fill the ground on several ocassions but sadly not regularly enough.

The old blue buses used to fill Fenwick Avenue (just off Wenlock Road) from on end to the other.

It was great fun being a pretend bus conductor at the age of 4 when all the conductors were at the game. At 5 you were at the game. I lived at 18 Fenwick Avenue.

Warney Creswell used to go to the Shields games up until 1973. After the night games in the Vaux Floodlit League he would get off the bus at the West Park. My dad used to make me walk him home to Mortimer Road as he was getting on a bit. He once showed me his old photo's and medals and his sister (I think his wife had died) gave me a ginger wine as it was mid November!

South Shields probably still is the biggest town in England without League representation. If I was rich enough I would get them in the league.
STAY CALM AND SANDDANCE ON

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Post by curly »

Another great post, thanks mate, that's the sort of anecdotal response I was looking for.
When I was a nipper I went to Barnes Road school, and when we kicked a ball about in the yard we used to climb the wall and hang on to catch a glimpse of Len Smith when he left his house in Eldon Street to buy a paper at Johnny Forsters newsagent.
I used to go to Roker Park with my dad and grandad to watch Sunderland, but I never went to the away matches, instead, my uncle would take me to Simonside Hall to watch Shields (or to Roker Park to watch Shields play Sunderland Reserves), legends were built and created in a young mind. However, though Sunderland were my first love, I always got a buzz out of watching the Mariners, as the home town team, especially in the big games.
It's just such a pity that there isn't much about the history of the club available.
By the way, Jack Leighton taught me to drive! I was a good mate and drinking partner with his nephew John and his dad Don (they owned the garage on Westway.
It's a shame that John Rundle feels that his involvement with the current club at Filtrona Park has run it's course. He's done a fantastic job just keeping their heads above water, and I'd really like to think that someone could come in and invest a little more money and involve the fans a bit, otherwise we could see the demise of another Shields team!

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