High Peak News
19 December 1914
CRICH TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB
To the Editor of the High Peak News
Sir, – Judging by the Press reports of the Matlock Football League meeting held last week, it seems that we are accused of being "pot-hunters," and that the reason we resigned membership of the League was because we had been defeated in knock-out competitions. May we occupy a small place in your football columns in refuting this?
In the Spring edition of the Crich Area Community News I was interested in John Windsor's excellent article on Mary Hammond's visit to The Mount, Crich where Miss Austin and herself spent many happy days there. In retrospect I think it was Mary that introduced organised football to the youth of Crich including myself.
She was "AKELA" the leader of Crich 1st Wolf Cubs. She was also the District Commissioner for the scout movement. I spent many happy hours in her company, she taught us discipline, cleanliness, courtesy, punctuality and to be good christians. In essence it groomed us to be good citizens later in life. I have already stated Mary encouraged our interest in football.
In the summer evenings we used to meet at the Black Swan Clubroom every Thursday. Then we would walk through Joe Smith's farmyard to the 'Parks' then on to the Fishpond Farm where Mr and Mrs. Briggs gave us permission to play on their field and looked after four huge hedgestakes (goal posts). We used to play "friendlies" against the Lea and Holloway Pack, who were our great rivals. We usually beat them! So we should with talent like "Sonny" Flinders, Wilf Hudson, Des Wragg and Gordon (Ted) Howiss and if modesty permits! myself.
Pictured alongside is the Crich Boys team which played Ripley Lads, the Ripley Youth League Champions in the semi final of the Belper Junior Nursing Cup on Easter Monday morning 1948 at the Plaistow Green Ground. Crich Boys won 6–1. The scorers being Richard Haynes (guest) who scored a 'hat-trick' (three goals), two from Roy Howitt who played an exceptional game and one from Trevor Mason.
So Crich Boys were on their way and were formed mainly due to the efforts of Alf Sulley who with myself journeyed to Darley Dale and Cromford Meadows to meet Mr. A. Jolley the newly elected secretary of Rowsley & District Youth League. Cromford Meadows for a meeting; strange? Ah, yes! You see, Mr. Jolley and his chairman Mr. Jack Wheeldon were playing cricket there. Incidentally both were Matlock League D.F.A. Referees! It was decided due to fixture congestion, (most of Rowsley Youth league shared their grounds with their Matlock League senior partners) to make it a round robin competition.
The new members of the youth league were divided into four sections, and a 'round robin' competition was introduced with the winners of each section competing in the semi final. The final being played on Matlock Town's Causeway Lane Ground.
The first winners were Wensley Youth Club. Crich Boys lost their semi final 3–5 to Hackney Foresters at Cromford before a crowd estimated at 1,000.
Before the League's first full season started in 1948–49 two strict rules were introduced, to encourage local youthful talent;
No.1 was that any registered player must live within two miles radius of the club head- quarters;
No.2 The players must be under 18 years old on September 1st.
With this rule, and with call-up to serve in the armed forces with conscription; several players were unavailable.
However, we survived due to an influx of talent. Some of us improved due to light evenings with 'Double British Summer- time'! when we played until we dropped at the Crich Recreation Ground; the Crich answer to 'The Football Academy.'
It must have done some good, because we won the Rowsley & District Youth League Championship. Would you believe, the locals began to sit up and take notice! Even the name 'Nig-Nogs' began to fade into the past. It was J. Isaac Wooley who who christened us. Tut tut 'strange' as he was the DFA Member for Matlock & District, Matlock League secretary of the high flying Crich Rangers. However I am happy to say they gave us their support e.g. the use of their ground at Plaistow Green, the loan of shirts and football kit and sometimes a football; all these items were very costly in those days,. We were very lucky and appreciated their gesture, but even today I occasionally hear the nickname.
We realise the importance of their support when we played our first fixture in the Rowsley Youth League. This was against Amber Hill Youth Club away, nobody knew anything about them! Only instructions how to get there! We did find them and eventually beat them 2-0. First we had to board the East Midland service bus from Matlock to Chesterfield, then we got off at the Slack Hill Ashover and then find Lant Lodge Farm which was derelict! We had to change in the hay barn. The pitch was on an old cornfield with last years stubble still evident. The goal posts were trimmed down Silver Birch trees, no crossbar only rope and no goal nets, and four corner flags. Their players were mainly farmers more suitable to Ashbourne Shrovetide Football, with one exception: that was Bill Bradbury, a very good player indeed. He joined Hackney Foresters for the 1948–49 season and later went to Coventry City then Hull City. Oh yes we won 2–0 and later won 6-0 in the return match at Crich when a few old scores were settled. The first fixture at Lant Lane was on March 13th the day Derby County lost 1–3 to Man. Utd. at Hillsborough in the FA Cup Semi-final.
What a baptism to youth football. We must have looked a "sorry bunch" indeed, as we trudged back to Matlock dragging our bruised, tired and aching limbs after missing the service bus back. We must have resembled Napoleon's defeated French army on their retreat from Moscow!
In the close season in 1948a committee was formed to look after our interests. These were Cyril Booth landlord of the Bulls Head, Bill Bradley (Chairman) Roy Lynam and Sid Walters (both ex players), Wilf Minard, Jack (Jotty) Brown (Trainer), George Storer who did sterling work fund-raising for the club and arranging transport for away matches, through Norths Transport (Derby).
The notable achievements for 1948–49 season was winning the Rowsley Youth League Championship, The High Peak News Cup, and the outstanding match was beating Youlgrave Juniors. We won 10–-2 at Plaistow Green on a very windy day in March 1949. Jimmy Hasland scored six goals, against the side which went undefeated in the next season (1949-50) and were all England Under 18s Champions, winning the Sporting Record Cup by beating Scunthorpe Boys.
As I have already stated 1948–49 was a very successful season. To celebrate the success and achievements we held a presentation evening at the Bull's Head when Derby County players attended, notably Jack Stamps ,Bert Mozley and Frank Broom.
After our championship season (1948–49) we had to think in terms of team building having lost several players being over '18' and the call up to the armed forces looming.
A new committee was formed, with Bill Bradley still as chairman and George Storer as the Rowsley Youth League Representative, enabling him to carry on organising and fund raising both of which he did excellently. Fred Spendlove was elected as Club President adding to the committee with his football knowledge and expertise. He was joined by Roy Hudson and Don Nadin both who played for Whatstandwell Youth Club when he was at the helm and enjoyed some successful seasons, more about them as it proved a huge success.
In the 1949–50 season we recruited two players straight from school-boy football which was the Mortimer Wilson at Alfreton. They were Colin Harrison and Derek Swindell, they were soon settled into the team Colin was a fast running winger and Derek was a quick tackier and a sound full back and later in the season when Wilf Hudson was unavailable for reasons already stated, Derek was appointed club captain, a job that suited him well. He was also a very good musician and played the trumpet or is it coronet? Incidentally Derek's father was co-opted to the committee.
At this point I must mention George Webster who was our No.1 supporter and Chief Scout, self appointed of course!, also assistant groundsman? He used to help George Storer and Alf Sulley rig the goal nets for home fixtures and mark the pitch out. This was after Wilf Hudson had performed a very tricky balancing act, fetching a sack bag full of sawdust from the Smith Brothers (Joiners), Roes Lane. As a concession we let George Webster have a free seat on Norths Transport Bus for away fixtures. You always knew George was around especially on Monday evenings when the committee selected the team. George was always ready with his "two penny worth" about team selection. With the committee deliberating, sorry debating on team selection! One could hear what I can only describe as a high pitched scream "Weid" coming from the Tap Room, it was George relating his tales to the customers; his favourite one was 'incredible'. He said that when he was young he was so fast that he could take a corner kick hit the crossbar and headed the rebound into the net!! The goal was disallowed because of a rule infringement! Hmmm. Occasionally he would come up with a constructive observation, I remember him saying to me with words in the venacular in other words broad Derbyshire! "Ey Up Mi Duck!" you want ter git that th'eer Fox yooth he'll gerra lorra gewds.
Would you believe we did sign Arthur Fox from Holloway and he did score a lot of goals for us.
Which brings us to 1949-50. So moving swiftly on this was the season we said goodbye to two of our key players. One was our captain Wilf Hudson he was stationed with the RAF in East Anglia. While he was there he played for Lowestoft Town F.C. when he was demobbed he joined Belper Town F.C. and was their captain when they won the Derbyshire Divisional Cup at the Baseball Ground. While he was with Belper Town he had trials with Coventry.
This photograph was taken at the away fixture to Matlock Swifts F.C. who we beat 5-0 with all our forwards scoring with a sparkling display looking resplendent in our new kit in Arsenal colours. These colours were suggested to the committee and somewhat coaxed in their decision by Wilf Hudson, hmmm! The lad always did have a silver tongue and tremendous power of persuasion. The second player to be called up was Ron (Juddy) Needham who was very versatile playing at full back, centre forward or as an emergency goalkeeper. He was always trying new ideas! He also played the piano and was a good organist. I was aware of his musical talents when he conducted the 'Back Seat Boys' singing the hits of the day like 'Slow Boat to China' and 'Far Away Places' when North's Transport Bus conveyed the team to away fixtures. They sang like 'little angels', but were they? That is another story.
The post-war era football in general experienced a revival when hostilities ceased after VE Day. Countrywide clubs began to be reformed and cup competitions and leagues organised geographically; e.g. clubs in the 3rd division, North/South, the cup competitions were made on a two legged basis Home and Away. Club attendances were very good and most grounds were at full capacity. "Football fever " caught on and local leagues were formed; e.g. Ripley and District, Belper and District Amateur League also the Belper Nursing Cup, which was played in late May 1947 because of fixture problems due to the severe Winter the Nursing Cup Final was played on the Herbert Strutt playing field, with Crich Rangers losing by 2 – 3 against Duffield United with their centre half Keith Hague ex-Derby County scoring with two free kicks and a penalty kick four minutes from time for the winner. Poor little Sammy Hall the Rangers prolific scorer took quite a battering from the Duffield centre half, however two years later the Rangers who were just coming into their prime in 1949 won the Nursing Cup by beating Horsley Miners' Welfare 10 goals to 4 on Christchurch Meadows.
The Matlock and District League was launched with the prestigious Cavendish Cup competition was an additional attraction also the DFA Nedal Final which was played at Causeway Lane on Good Friday when a full capacity watched the long awaited duel between Youlgrave FC and Crich Rangers, who drew 4 – 4 on a very heavy pitch. The match referee was excellent, Fred Wain from Bakewell, who awarded the Rangers a penalty five minutes from time. Fred Wragg the goalkeeper scored from the spot kick.
The Crich Rangers team was: Fred Wragg, George Dowler, Gordon Slack, Graham Wass, Granville Beasley, Syd Harrison, Albert Bull, Billy Rodgers, Sammy Hall, Tommy Mycroft.
Youlgrave (Pommey) won the replay and the Cavendish Cup also the Matlock League Championship. However Crich Rangers got their revenge by beating Youlgrave FC 3 – 0 in a rearranged league match therefore ending Pommey's unbeaten record. With the Rangers fielding a mystery team with a 'Mystery Man' who scored all three goals and put in a virtuoso performance. His name was Millington, he came from the Nottingham area. A rumour was that he had played for Notts County or Forest; he certainly made an impact with his performance that day, it was talked about for years. He only played that once, then disappeared just as quickly as he came! A one match wonder. He surely was!
After Youlgraves unbeaten record went Bert Marden was deflated., but he soon bounced back. However he was completely demoralised when the Rangers signed the Calladine brothers, Charlie (centre half) and Ged (Gerald, centre forward), who were the 'king pins' of Youlgrave team. Rumours locally were that the signing fee was one or two tons of coal that is feasible I suppose! H'm no comment!
However, Bert soon replaced them when he signed a classy and very good centre back from Dronfield, Wilf Lincoln, and also signed another defender who was a strong and powerful player from Wirksworth, Tommy Spencer, and he has played for the Derbyshire FA Representative eleven. Being an ultra cautious type he enticed Darley Dales sound and resolute centre half Clarence Askew, and signed him by making an offer that he couldn't refuse!!
Darley Dale themselves had a very good team in the early 50s and had a very good player in Arnold (Keeker) Webster who was an ex-Sheffield Wednesday player and was very adaptable either at centre half or centre back.
Darley Dale also had two fine goalscoring wingers in Ken Grafton and Tony Evans. They also had a very good inside forward in Gene Woodhouse. However in a perverse way Best certainly raised the standard of football in the Matlock League because in order to compete other clubs had to sign better players. Teams like Darley Dale, Milltown United, Wessington, Crich Rangers, in the Hope Valley, Tideswell had a very good side with ex-players from Sheffield Wednesday.
A competition was usually played at the end of the season. This was the Marshall-Wood Trophy which was magnificent. Crich Rangers won the trophy several times and their players usually looked forward to playing in the final, if selected, that depended what "dark horses" emerged from the Woolley’s and Uncle Herbert’s scouting trips! The players had some fringe benefits from playing in the final. The pitch was in very good condition and huge because it was maximum length and width. It was only used for the finals because Tideswell F.C. played the village during the season. It was adjacent to the Royal Oak Pub so the players didn't have to go far for to celebrate their victory. Also as the final had an evening kick-off the players had missed their teatime and were very hungry by the time they reached Bakewell or Matlock Bath for a Fish & Chip supper the only problem was that the Fishpond Pub was very handy because the players wouldn't depart for home when 'time' was called.
After their undefeated record went this feud between the Rangers and Youlgrave went on for a number of seasons while their matches were never violent great rivalry between both clubs and even rubbed off on the Juniors' encounters in the Rowsley Youth League, these were always a bit special if we Crich Boys beat 'Pommey'. At senior club level in actual fact it was their Presidents battle for 'Top Dog' supremacy. Nevertheless there were some classic memorable matches. Bert never stood still at matches! He was a restless little character usually smoking or chewing a cigarette, nervous tension? Perhaps! Rumour was that he used to take the Matlock League Rule Book to bed with him and sleep with it under his pillow!! I do know for a fact that on Sunday mornings Bert and Ike Woolley with Uncle Herbert in their cars would jockey for position outside the home of E. G. Goodwin (the Matlock League Secretary) on Wash Green, Wirksworth this was in order to lodge a protest of an infringement of the rules by their opponents the previous day. If Bert knew the League Rules as indeed so did Ike Woolley.
One person who certainly knew them inside out was Fred Spendlove who was Crich Boys President and Chairman for a while. Fred had a good knowledge of football and he had a very astute mind when assessing a players qualities and capabilities and he usually had a good blend of talent when selecting his teams and had a modicum of success when he was in charge of Whatstandwell Youth Club in 1945-48 and when Whatstandwell F.C. won the Belper Junior Nursing Cup in 1945-48, shown in the photo. Their club head-quarters was the Wheatsheaf Inn, and played on the Chase Cliff ground. He was also President of Crich Boys F.C. and the secretary of Crich United who had their club house at the Jovial Dutchman and played down at Roes Lane and for a short time was a nursery club for Chesterfield F.C. Fred was also secretary of Crich United A and B teams when they played at Bowmer Lane, Fritchley and changed at the Red Lion, and after demobilised welcomed back players of the calibre of Harry Hobson, Ken Curzon, Arnie Rowe, Sid Butt. In my opinion if Fred could have had financial backing he would have progressed much further up the football scale or ladder. A good example of his acumen was when he won the Belper Junior Nursing Cup with the Derby Hotspur F.C. who really were the best under-18 team in Derby with two local players.
There were a few changes in Crich Rangers F.C.from 1947-48 to 1948-49.
One was the change of headquarters and indeed the committee members were reduced to seven from the original fourteen. This was because of a lack of harmony and disagreements between members. The bone of contention was that certain members were opposed to outsiders! being included. The nickname of “Crich Strangers” was very apt to some die-hard locals. This caused quite a problem with "the powers that be" by including better and more experienced players obviously had a better chance of gaining honours. Of course it gave them a better chance of gaining honours. Of course it gave them a better chance of beating their old rivals Youlgrave F C. the old feud still went on and on. These encounters undoubtedly were tough but not violent because each team were very respectful to each other having previously stated the standard of football was definitely raised in the Matlock area by increased competition with clubs like Youlgrave, Darley Dale, Wessington, Milltown United and of course Crich Rangers. All of these clubs signed and played experienced players.
It was these last two teams, Milltown United and the Rangers, who staged a terrific match. To see this vital fixture Wilf Hudson and myself cycled to Milltown on a borrowed bicycle. "Ah, the exuberance of youth!" Going down to Milltown was a pieceof cake, but coming back up to Crich we both were truly "cream crackered" with our tired and aching legs also we were very "saddle-sore". Anyhow we witnessed an excellent match with a 2–1 victory to the Rangers who, in doing so, ended Milltown United's unbeaten run with Harry Hobson's superb memorable goal sealing Milltown's fate! a little about that shortly as this goal indirectly changed my uncle Herbert's philosophy and his opinion on footballer's injuries that occurred.
Milltowns home ground was small and compact with a slope from one (top) end down the slope to the bottom goal Milltown obviously played or defended with a preconceived plan very well directed by their captain Tommy Lunn who later signed and played for the Rangers. In scoring his superb winning goal Harry Hobson beat Milltown's off- side trap with a dash up the slope like a greyhound drew Milltown's goalkeeper Dooley then what I can only describe as an "Alt Shuffle" and scored with a low hand shot into the corner of the net. This superb winning goal indirectly changed uncle’s philosophy and his opinion on footballers injuries gained in pursuit of their beautiful game. It was the week following the Rangers 2–1 Victory at Milltown. Uncle Herbert and Ike Woolley journeyed to Heanor where they used to meet Fred Dawes (Rangers local scout) at Sunnyside Club. On this occasion they had taken a committee man Matt Lodge probably for moral support?
These secret meetings and low key discussions for football clubs were not very happy with "Talent Poachers" Now Matt was a grand chap, but he was prone to enthuse and get excited about football. However he was demonstrating Harry's memorable goal when suddenly he lashed out unexpectedly, kicked uncle on his shin, well the air was blue and uncle spitting feathers and demanding "You silly sod Matt, what did you do that for" Matt apologetically replied “Sorry Herb I was a bit wobbly and "mi" foot slipped!” There's no answer to that, well not printable using uncles retort anyway. Although the next day at work and Uncle hobbling around he confided to me and Bill Black while showing us his nasty black and blue swollen bruised shin, to quote I always thought you footballers were a "Mardy lot" but now I'm not too sure!!
That is a classic comment. I promised earlier in this preamble on local football to write or mention when the Rangers tasted defeat and also lost their unbeaten record. This was away to lowly Cromford F. C. in an evening end of season fixture. The Rangers being the Matlock League Champions Elect. It was just a matter of finishing the fixtures and remaining unbeaten. A mere formality? But not so! The matches progressed as expected with the Rangers dominant as usual but for all of their dominance they just could not score with a number of shots hitting the woodwork, goal worthy shots being kicked off the line by Cromford's harassed defenders and their goalkeeper playing a "blinder" as also did their skipper Ray Buxton playing like a seasoned international, (incidentally he was the father of Ian who played for Derby County F. C. and Derbyshire County Cricket Club). It was just one of those days!
The Rangers would not have scored if they had played until midnight. Suddenly Cromford broke loose from the melee in their penalty-box their charge upfield being led by their unusual hero Billy Wait, anyway to his credit was a ninety minute man who I can only describe as a (pardon me) a “Muck or Nettles” player with his socks rolled down to his ankles that was the scenario! as he galloped on and goalward. But where on earth was Dick Pickering the Rangers goalkeeper? Now through being in active and bored he decided to go and join his mates for some shooting in practice at the Cromford Goal! Through their inability to score their tempers were getting frayed. So "Master Dick" was told to "B....well clear off and stop being an hindrance by his Captain most likely. On strode Billy then looking up, and seeing a mostly unguarded Crich goal toe-ended the ball into a seemingly empty net. But where was Master Dick? There he was nonchalantly leaning against his goal post would you believe eating "Fish & Chips" suddenly he was jolted back into action seeing the ball in the net and being thwarted and frustrated angrily flung his cap and the odd chip or two left from his supper into his net next to the ball. The Cromford team were wild with delight and this continued after the final whistle at their club headquarters The Greyhound in the market place with their jubilant supporters. But there was a problem. Uncle Herbert was so angry and upset at losing and the unbeaten record gone, he was refusing to take some of the players back to Crich saying "the beggars! Didn't do much in the match so they damn well must walk"! However, reason prevailed and the lesson in diplomacy by Harry Hyde saved the day. Harry was a committee man who had a taxi business and quickly arranged a shuttle service to and fro between Crich and Cromford to transport the players safely home.
Although the Rangers still had a fine team and continued to win cups and trophies, somehow things were never quite the same again. Sadly Uncle Herbert seemed to lose heart and later handed the reins over to his son Geoffrey who with his friend and colleague Arthur Heapey continued to keep the flag flying. They had to find replacements for Dick Pickering and Wilf Rawson as they both joined Belper Town F C which was a big problem because Dick was a good and fine goalkeeper and also all rounder at cricket in the Border League with Openwoodgate CC. Wilf Rawson was a good inside left and on joining Belper Town changed his position to outside left and I think he was even better in the wing position. Geoff and Arthur continued to rebuild, one could say broadened their horizons. Their best signing was a Geordie who was on Newcastle United's books and was stationed at an RAF camp near Newark. His name Johnny Tremble and he most certainly did just that to opponents defenders for he was a prolific goal scorer.
Now Uncle Herbert still had an interest in football for a few years he bought a season ticket for Matlock Town with Frank Mellors the old Rangers trainer and both him and Uncle attended regularly.
Crich Boys most successful season was 1950–51. With winning the Rowsley and District Youth League Championship and Medals and the Trustees Shield due to an influx of players from Lea and Holloway Youth Club. Five very good players were signed and by doing that the committee ensured at a stroke the 1950–51 Crich Boy's team the most successful they had ever enjoyed.
For example Aubrey Briddon who was a powerful and stylish centre-half, Roy Cowlishaw, who made up for his lack of height with being a tricky goal scoring inside forward. At this point I will mention goal keeper Bernard Booth while not being signed from Lea and Holloway Youth Club F.C. was an ever present member and an unsung hero for his heroics that season. Jack McCann wasa box of tricks to say the least. Arthur Fox who signed for the club earlier as I have previously stated and was a prolific goalscoring centre-forward. Probably the outstanding player was Harry Williamson who being originally a fast and direct left winger but when he returned to the club after his spell in the army had developed into a powerful and strong wing-half. No doubt his spell in the army certainly helped him. It was always a mystery to me that a league club never signed him or ever gave him a trial. For his army training improved him. Training ah yes!
During the season the only training we had after Saturday's match for those of us who were fit took part in a little ball work when after three pm on Sundays we all would file out of the C of E (Top) School after Sunday School we all were good lads you see! Although I once heard a remark about "those hypocrites playing football in the street on the Sabbath, they should be locked up!" Frankly I found that most amusing. For on a Sunday afternoon I assume PC Hudson would be having a well earned afternoon nap so I think it was a case of "What the eye doesn't see, etc." The only problem was shoe repairs because the village cobblers Sam Holmes and Jack Cheetham were kept quite busy.
See a photo history of Crich Football Teams
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