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National service and football opportunities

It was then on to Whittington Barracks, Lichfield and a further posting to Leicester in the Royal Army Pay Corps. Civilian lodgings and being close to home made army life different. Tom Johnston who had transferred from Peterborough United to Nottingham Forest had a connection with Harry Whitcroft, manager of Brush Sports, Loughborough and arranged for me to play for them in the Leicestershire Senior League - my train fare home to Peterborough, almost a professional!
At the same time someone had spoken about me to Leicester City, then managed by Tom Mather, and one Friday evening my name appeared in the Leicester Mail and Leicester Mercury selected to play for Leicester City ‘A’ against Melton Town. I had no contact with the club before or after the event and played for Brush Sports on the Saturday.

Meanwhile Posh were re-grouping after the war and many local players were performing alongside a smattering of pre-war professionals.

In 1946 I was posted to Leeds, again in civilian lodgings, and for a few weeks, when passes were available, returned home and played for Posh Reserves in the United Counties League and just one first team fixture in the Maunsell Cup at Rushden. Due to a backlog of fixtures early 1947, two first team matches had to be played on the same day so the teams were split up, half reserves and half first team in each game. The Midland League match was against Scarborough at London Road, whilst at Newton Road, Rushden, our team were humiliated 4-1, with a certain Len Pipes scoring all of Rushden’s goals.

When unable to get leave I played for Harehills Liberal in the West Yorkshire League, two trial matches for Goole Town, Yorkshire League, and also against Yorkshire Amateurs for York City Reserves. Yorkshire Amateurs, who played at Bracken Edge, Leeds included Eddie Joyce, a legend in those parts. I believe he played at this level when almost 50, and a newspaper report confirmed that he and his son played in the same team!!

Due to uncertainties regarding leave, I played a few games for BTH Sports (now Hotpoint) when required, and in January 1948 I was Africa bound for 20 months.

So, in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) the football was not of a high standard, perhaps at best similar to United Counties or Peterborough Premier League level, this includes the National team, which as football enthusiasts will acknowledge, reflects enormous progress by them as they are now world class. In addition to playing for my unit I had no difficulty in making Representative teams, England v Scotland, England v Gold Coast Records Office who were Africans and generally accepted as the National X1. The Africans were mostly barefooted, some had a type of strapping on their feet but none wore boots, so they were extremely fast. Hard tackles did not intimidate them and our only saviour was their over-excitement in front of goal.

"Our only saviour was their over-excitement in front of the goal'"

On playing football in the Gold Coast, now Ghana.

1949 - return to local football

Back in England in 1949 with my army friend, Derek (Perry) Dexter, we were posted to Edinburgh. Our workplace was in Easter Road, next to Hibs ground where we saw the greats, Gordon Smith, Lawrie Reilly, Willie Ormond, Willie Bauld and a few others. I played for a provincial team in the West Lothian League, on some real muckheaps. 

On Christmas leave, my army friend Derek Dexter asked me to play for his village team, Warmington Wasps (who?), at Nassington. The pitch was on a slope and the ball was airborne for lengthy periods but I recall evading the ferocious lunge of Nassington’s ‘Curly’ Sharpe and passed the ball backwards to our left-half. The shock caused him to re-launch the ball into orbit once again. We won the match 6-3, Warmington went on to win the Peterborough League Div3 (South) and were promoted to Division 2. I was asked to join the club for the next season and was impressed with the enthusiasm and work of the non-playing committee and helpers and the spirit of the local players. Some of the local players were exceptionally talented and it was decided to recruit some additional players from outside the village, this would allow them to form a reserve team so the fringe local players would not lose out. And so, with every optimism, our new team took the field against Deeping Town Athletic and won 6-3, a perfect blend. Warmington finished second in the league behind Yaxley and were promoted to Division 1. They also won the Peterborough Junior Cup defeating King’s Lynn ‘A’ at London Road.

The success was continued and Division 1 was won the following year but promotion to the Peterborough Premier League was denied because our changing facilities were not to the standard required. Then a BOMBSHELL! - An astonishing decision by the league committee, prompted by chairman, Mr C Walden. Warmington had to apply for re-election and were subsequently required to play in Division 3 (North), in the same league as the reserve team played. The reserves then had to apply to the Stamford League for admission to their competitions.

At this time I was approached by Rushden Town and met Mr Ken Ambridge, secretary, at his home. However, travelling problems led me to consider instead, joining my working colleague, Bryan Ringham at Holbeach. I enjoyed playing for that club and also with the players, in the Peterborough Premier and United Counties Leagues.

The following season I joined Warboys Town and we finished runners-up in the United Counties League Div2.

Meanwhile, Warmington were winning Peterborough League Div2 AGAIN, putting them back to Division 1, from where they were relegated two seasons before. The reserves were re-instated into Division 3 (North).

After another season at Warboys, I found it difficult to travel on Saturdays due to business commitments, so re-joined Warmington. After a few seasons I was sympathetically advised to take up golf - and I play that just as badly!

My association with Posh continued through a season ticket and my memories now span more than 80 years and if any aspiring author or historian would like them recalled, I would be delighted to do so.

A resumé of events and directory of players, referees, administrators and helpers are detailed on this website.

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