1956

Jim Laker’s Ashes. He took 46 wickets in 5 matches against the Australians. A brilliant supporting cast – Hutton (L), May, Cowdrey, Edrich and Compton, and they were just the batters.

The new house at Waterloo was one of George Haigh’s. A semi with two bedrooms, bathroom with inside toilet, a large through lounge, a very small kitchen and a garden, front and back. We never opened the front door and the back door was at the side straight into the kitchen which was no where near the size of the last one. A gate and a front path out onto Beadon Avenue and steps up from the back garden. There was a cellar too, at the bottom of the steps. We ate and sat and played in the room. Except for breakfast. Cornflakes and treacle butties on a put-up drop-leaf something-or-other table. Mum coughing, breathing her last.

The back garden was not quite 22 yards, but long enough. The borders were neat and you’d to watch out. No short cuts across the borders, not seen anyway. And walls. We couldn’t afford bricks, so Uncle George brought this concrete brick-maker, like an ice-cream wafer maker. He came every Sunday for ages, made bricks and dad built walls. The front one was curved. Mum wanted it that way. The back garden was long and narrow and had grass at the top, which finished at the other concrete brick wall, and an allotment at the bottom. We played lots of cricket, but watch out for the bloody borders. You can’t have plants and play cricket. It was the thing dad and me did together.

We also played on the waste ground at the back of St Michael’s church, Fernside. We all wanted to be Laker and when we turned it sideways off a tussock, we were him. Our kit varied a bit. A baseball bat and golf ball had to do some days.

The back garden wasn’t always for cricket. Across the road were the Sandersons. He was a painter and decorator and he used to appear at the back door, stand and talk in the kitchen, without being asked. Older brother worked for him in the summer holidays when he was home from university, became quite a dab hand at painting and plastering. Mum and dad said they went to play cards on Saturday nights at the Sanderson’s house, but it was a waste of time. Dad was always coming over to see if I was alright. They had a daughter Barbara. We used to play in my tent in the back garden.  She used to let me take her clothes off, what sights and smells. She wanted to take my clothes off, but I wouldn’t let her. Dad found us at it one afternoon. I said we were playing doctors and nurses.  Barbara stopped coming over after that. She was thirteen, I was about nine.

I was still in Dalton primary school in July 1956, the year before the eleven plus examinations. It could have been school holidays as the Test was played late in the month. So there 3 years or so, starting in a shed in the playground. I cried the first day. Ann Bailes had to look after me. The teacher was Miss Jewson and I don’t think we got on. She sighed a lot. I was the last that got to do anything. I had the smallest number of stars. My untidy work, done in pencil, was always returned with loads of red remarks. I read well though. She made a sort of surprised noise when one day I picked out a book. She made me door monitor once. Had to open the door for big brother’s girlfriend. She’d been in Miss Jewson’s class too. Came back to visit when she’d gone to the High school. Ridiculous smile across my face. I used to have rich phantasies about what was in her bra. Eventually, last in the class, and possibly because it was becoming unfair, I got to to write in ink. Or rather I scratched something with a metal point on the end of a wooden stick, dipped into a tacky ink-well. Looked like a small animal had walked across the paper. No need to record what Miss said.

Mum walked us to school the first few times, but then I’d go from home on my own. There were lolly-pop men on the big roads. One got knocked over by a car. He died. Could get the bus too. You got to know the bus conductress. Until the West Indians started coming.

We moved to a bigger building and Miss Jewson became Mrs. Eliff. I never saw her again. The new teacher was Miss Boast. She was old. School assemblies for the first time. Teachers at the end of the row and Miss Pattinson on the stage. She was old too, like a skull on legs. I thought I’d never find the hymn the first time. It was the first book Miss handed out. It was easy. The first numbers lesson was good. Everything added up to ten. Mum said she’d been to see Miss, ‘He’s not naughty. It’s just he does things before he realises he shouldn’t.’ I threw a stone in the playground. It hit a boy in the eye. An ambulance came. I never saw the boy again. I was frightened for ages. I’d been bad. I was waiting. Nobody told me off. There was a food shortage once and we had bread instead of meat or potatoes. Miss Pattinson, in assembly, asked if anyone had gone hungry. I was the only one to put my hand up. There was a groan from the dinner lady. I had to see Miss Pattinson after that. She didn’t tell me off. Mum said I’d been honest.

Then Mr. Wiseman. In the class-room next door. My first man for a teacher. He went away for a while and woman took his place. Used a ruler on the back of your hands. I never got my pictures on the wall. Then I did after he came back. A crap one of a shark. We made things that never got finished. Cardboard and paste. Railway stations and goods yards. We did exercises in the big hall. We had to change in the classroom. Some how squirming out and in your stuff sitting behind a desk. Hiding your skidmarks. Catching sight of other things possibly. Stand like a tree. ‘That’s not a tree, David Walker.’ Then you do something. ‘Look at David Walker. Do it again David.’ At break and dinner times, playing allys, making the rules up as you go along. Pretend games, ‘Anyone want to play cowboys and indians.’ My gun was a straight finger. What was that? A curled finger. ‘Oh, that’s the trigger is it?’ Football and cricket. Dawsey and Briscoe were best, and Parkin. Parkin went dancing though. And he could play the piano. And fighting. You had to. Didn’t the teachers realise? We had our rules. I cracked one lad’s head on the playground concrete. Crying, fight over. But I hadn’t won. Broken the rules somehow. Until Dawsey said well done. He’d not taken my side before. A white line appeared around the boiler-house. Couldn’t go over it. Pushed Cootey and told on him. Got told off by Mr. Meal for sneaking. Cootey’s pleased. He was short with a hair lip. Lived next to Handy on the main road. He was brainy, and cocky. You watched him, never pally with him. He wasn’t frightened. We arranged a fight after school. Two or three hung around. We starts and he’s no softy, awkward, inside me, pulling and tugging, can’t get a hit. Some grown-up stops us just as I get in a punch to the side of the head. Was it late? We didn’t fight after that. Mr. Meal was odd. He was nice, but still told you off. Made you cry, by talking to you. He moved in with a woman down the road from us. Mum said he wasn’t nice because he was divorced.

We were in gangs. Our gang came from Fernside. We walked to school and dawdled back and we called for each other. And we ran away. Whispers. Secret signals.

Mr. Meal had 4B. I was in 4A with Miss Town. She was friendly with big brother’s girlfriend’s mum. She read to us on Friday afternoons. Treasure Island. Brilliant. Every morning there were sums on the board. Then she’d come up each aisle and tick them over your shoulder, with a red pen, from answers in her book. She never did them herself. ‘We always have to do seven or eight wrong before we get one right, don’t we David Walker?’ loudly, so the whole class hears. Forty-two in the class and we change places every week. Each piece of work, composition, arithmetic gets a mark. They are added up and you come where you come. David Woods and Brenda Butcher are always top. They get to sit at the back, furthest away from Miss. Pleased with themselves. I’m near the front. Vicky Flek does her compositions as poems all the time and gets to read them out at the front. Miss clucks and says nice things. She’s skinny with a face like a rodent. I feel odd, thick, not good. My compositions lead to Miss’s desk. Red pen everywhere. ‘You don’t start sentences with and, David Walker.’ I told dad. He was going to come in and sort her out. But he didn’t.

Anyway we got to play football. Red Triangle league on Saturday mornings. We’d played the year before, but I didn’t make the team, so I was linesman. Dawsey, Briscoe and Parkin did. Picked a stick up on a walk and got mum to put some red cloth on it. Went to away matches as well. Stuck the flag up when the ball went out. A referee asked me, shouting, ‘Who’s ball is it linesman?’ I didn’t know. Something to do with which way my flag was pointing. He didn’t speak to me after. Dad bought me some football boots with cork studs. Lost them in five minutes. I didn’t do it on purpose. Then I didn’t play on the team, ‘I spent all that money on boots and you’re not playing.’ We were on the terrace side at Fartown. I don’t think we had a lot of money. I’d nothing to say.

Would I ever get picked? Mr. Witter with a ball, bouncing it on the classroom floor. We couldn’t do that. Throws it over for me to feel. ‘Good enough for you, David?’ So I played at last. Right back, a clogger. An old Town shirt, god knows where from, laces at the collar. Shorts to my knees, shin pads, short back and sides. Gordon Littlewood played at left back. We got mixed up once on a sloping pitch Lindley way. Why wasn’t the ball coming to me? Teacher told us after the game.  ‘What did you swap for?’ We hadn’t. I took the goal kicks. Couldn’t get it out of the area that game. We had to have somebody waiting on the edge to kick it on. At home I kicked into their half.  Dad watched once. I kept kicking it out. My dad goes up to the teacher after, ‘He was put off with me on the line.’ We won every game except two. We lost to Stile common in the semi-final of the cup. Played at Leeds Road. Neither of us normally played there. ‘A neutral venue.’ Mum said smiling. Just like real footballers. We lost one-nil. Thin snow, lines cleared, cold. I kick their centre forward’s legs from under him. He was going to score. Gets the penalty. Lads tell me off, but it doesn’t matter. I head a ball in defence in the second half. Nearly goes in our goal. Sir says ,’Well played.’ We lost away to Netherton too. Went on the bus. Came home dirty knees and foreheads and kit and all. Angry this time, ‘We’ll murder you at our place.’ We beat’em after school in the week. Must’ve arranged it special. We didn’t murder them. Played at Paddock once. Sunny. Pitch was grey, bits of grass. A man from the Examiner took a photo.

We won trophies. We had to go back to school at night, after we’d been home. Take a cup with us. Pie and peas, loads of jelly, cartoons and a Hopalong Cassidy picture, just for us.

Peter Sutton was our goalie. He said one week that he wanted to go train-spotting. He got some stick. Then we didn’t really talk to him for a while. Alec Eales played instead. Massive and fat and slow. Not as good as Sutton, but all we had. He could throw a cricket-ball. So could Gordon Sibald.  I came third on sports’ day, for 2A or 3A. “That were rubbish, Walker,” in the classroom day after. I knew it was and so was I, crying. Miss shooed a bit, but I’m mostly left to it. The men teachers tried to show us how to pass a baton on in a relay. Put sticks in the ground specially to give room. Still stood still on the day and waited. We’d’ve won easy if ours had set off. “Why didn’t you?” teacher asks. Heads down, silence.

‘Dawsey wants us to go to watch Town,’ Dad mutters, ‘How much is it? How are you going?’ ‘I’m calling for him, and we’re going over Kilner bank. He’s been before, with his dad.’ We went in the lads and pensioners, a turnstile. You went up a back lane for the lad’s entrance to Fartown and a man let you in a red door. ‘Stay the other side,’ dad paying further up the lane, near the smelly corrugated lavs. First Town match was brilliant. Went with dad regular after that, and Fartown, every other week. Blue and white signs and claret and gold signs on trolley bus windows, who they’re playing next. 73 Bus to the bottom of town and walk up Bradford Road. Or get off at Moldgreen and walk to Leeds Road. We did walk a lot. I think dad got a bit fat and he needed to walk.

Football was the reason to get up in the mornings. Impromtu games wherever there was a bit of space for two sets of coats. The year I took my eleven plus, the school formed a team and joined the local league. Proper practice on the pitch after school dinner. No kit to start with. I borrowed a shirt from Gordon which laced up at the front. Couldn’t afford too much in the way of boots. Cork studs, half of them missing after the first game. But Christmas and birthdays were helpful. Eventually I swapped folded up newspaper and magazines for shin pads, and red stockings replaced old pairs of darned grey school socks. Big for My age, I commanded the right back position. Solid, dirty according to many left wingers, but not the referees, and he could pass and kick a dead ball a fair way. I never crossed the half-way line. That was for the dribblers, the good players. We won promotion to the first division. Knocked out in the semi final of the cup. Pie and peas, jelly and ice cream and Hopalong Cassidy films as a treat one night after school. We gathered behind the goalposts every other Saturday to watch Town. We got a trolley bus to Moldgreen and walked down Kilner Bank to the ground where dad gave me the ninepence for the lads’ entrance. The players were legends and I could recite the team sheet. I dreamed of being just like them.

Only three out of the team went onto grammar school. Mum said I’d never have passed without it.

something about that team and who went to grammar school – was it just 3/4 senior littlewood parkin

also kedge, alfie childs, dennis, eales, sutton, dawes,

Most of us did a bit of train-spotting, but not on Saturdays in the football season anyway. We’d try and catch the half-oner and the half-fourer which usually had namers on front. Half-oner was a double-header. Got to cab a few too. But it was mostly tank engines and big nine-twoers with trucks. To see owt decent we had to set off. Manchester Exchange and Piccadilly, Leeds City and the News Theatre, Wakefield Westgate and Kirkgate, Penistone and Doncaster on the race-course platform. And York. Thames-Clyder, Elizabethan, South Yorkshireman, Flying Scotsman. Massive locos with names. Patriot, The Black Watch, Bittern, Gemsbock, Resolution, Trinidad and Tobago, Leviathan, City of Stoke, Oliver Cromwell, Evening Star, The Princess Royal. York was curved.  When somat good was coming you knew from boys’ shouts that came round the bend first, streak, streak, streak – a bow wave of awe. We put pennies on the line at Leeds and wondered how far they went. We visited the sheds too. Longsight, Holbeck, Doncaster plant. Sometimes the drivers and firemen would shout and see you off. Sometimes they ignored us. We got friendly with the porters at Huddersfield. A platform ticket got you on, waved in without it clipped if the bloke in the box was friendly. Miserable ones, the big fat one specially, wouldn’t let you on at all or clipped your ticket for an hour. We helped with the luggage barrows and the mail sacks. Spent all day there sometimes, little rucksack with sandwiches, apple, a notebook and a pencil. Rain and snow. Copied all your numbers when you got home. Underlined them until I got bored, and then I only bothered with namers.

Cousin Pat got married in Coventry. Me and Mum, auntie Mary and Granny Addy set off on the train. Got off at Stalybridge when we shouldn’t’ave. Then we had to changed at Crewe. What a spot. Trains to die for. ‘Can I have a look round?’ ‘Yes, don’t be long.‘ I’m back at the last minute, not worried. Mum calm, she knew I’d make it. Auntie Mary was having kittens. A man smoked in the carriage and you couldn’t go anywhere. All the seats full, rain streaming down the window and hot. Mirrors and little pictures of people on beaches. Leather straps hanging on the wooden doors which were awkward hard for women to open.

A man in a raincoat talked to me a lot on the platform. Said he knew my dad from Hopkinson’s. Gave me a black note-book. I told my dad. He warned me off. Then we came home on one of our train trips. Into Platform one so we came from Leeds. Perhaps a day rail-rover. Anywhere in Yorkshire for seven bob. Roast beef at the bottom of Westborough for dinner and a cake at the Paragon in Hull for tea. Anyway we came off the train and there’s this bloke. I points him out and Dad gives him a look. I didn’t see him again.

Another match on the Cayton Bay beach at Scarborough.  Every summer we went to Filey or Scarborough.  Last week of the school holidays.  Dad was in Nalgo, a holiday camp owner.  Either there or in a caravan at Wallis’s or Butlins.   Mum and dad were great dancers, but they could never get out because of me.  Big brother babysat me at Wallis’s.  They said they wouldn’t go but they did.  I learned to ride a two-wheeler and on a rainy day Mum taught me the St. Bernard’s waltz.

Nalgo holiday camp was OK.  Plenty of pals all with nicknames.  I was “Corky”.  Dad said one of the other campers might be a boss so you’d not know if we all had nicknames.  We were either red or blue and we had competitions like tug of war and cricket.  Dad was big by then and was the anchor man.  Slipping and falling over.  We lost.  We sang songs a lot, one for getting up and one for going to bed.  There was a long walk down to the beach, but we went most days until I preferred table-tennis.  There was a camp-fire in the woods one of the nights.  They had a bit for people who were in the war.  Or wars.   One year two old men in berets and medals stood up straight and saluted when the Boer war was announced.

The cricket match and twenty-five a side, all men, well lads and men.  Proper stumps and everything and a tennis-ball.  On the beach.  Some grown-up caught me at square leg.  Didn’t he know to give us a chance?  Fielding and short of a bowler.  “Bring on Corky,” shouts dad to the captain.  Batter misses and I get his shin.  “Ow’s that?”  “Out,” says the umpire, lovely man.  You only had one over though.  The captain wore a kilt, played the bagpipes and spoke funny.

I was nine years of age, so older brother would have been fourteen. He took his ‘O’ levels about then, a year early. They called it the rapid stream. We went to Southport the day before he started the exams. Mum said it was too late for revision. No worries, he knew it all anyway. We played cricket on the beach. Terrific surface. I batted for ages. That was my peak. Had I been spotted and whisked away to an academy, there’d be no knowing how far I would have gone. That’s the theory anyway.

Adrienne, my cousin’s girlfriend, had to change out of her swimming costume in the Dormobile. Accidentally on purpose I had to see her breasts, but missed out. She laughed. I went red, looked at the sand. God, what was she like underneath? That year, older brother went on summer holidays with school. Mum, dad and I were at Filey Butlins when he got his results. He sent us a telegram. Just imagine! A telegram was always bad news. Anyway he got six. I’m not sure that was all he took, and I can’t remember the grades. All good I suspect.

Big brother then stopped coming with us.  Mum and dad got his results by telegram.  She’d cried when the bus left Huddersfield, big brother walking away up Kirkgate. Mum, dad and I were at Filey Butlins when he got his results. He sent us a telegram. Just imagine! A telegram was always bad news. Anyway he got six. I’m not sure that was all he took, and I can’t remember the grades. All good I suspect. He went into the sixth form then. I still had to pass the eleven plus. knowall bighead fighting with dad. locked himself in the toilet, mum weeping.

Three trips to Rawthorpe Secondary Modern on Saturday mornings with tons of other kids. All morning in a classroom doing sums and writing. Yawning early in the evening. Mum said ‘You’ve had a busy day,’ and I remember and smile with butterflies in my tummy. I’ve forgotten all about it and we all have to go to the assembly hall, just the fourth yearers, before home time. Teachers are handing out brown envelopes. I don’t know why. Miss Pattinson gives me mine. She gives her pile out mostly to 4A. I get home before mum. It’s light. She works at my auntie Gladys’s shop in town, serving on, photographs, film, cameras. Kick some stones about for a bit. The road has a pavement but no tarmac. It’s dusty and stony. Mum gets home and I give her the brown envelope. She opens it and well. She clutches it to her chest and reads it again and grabs hold of me and cries. What’s all the fuss? I’ve passed the 11 plus. high enough to go to the college. After the merger they call it Huddersfield New College.

Mum’s dresses me in my new College blazer and tie to set me off somewhere on the train on my own. A porter I’ve known for ages has a right good look. ‘I didn’t know you went there.’ ‘I start next term.’ Boasting a bit, but okay with it, and he was. It gave you something. Train-spotting dropped off a bit after that.

I’m up to Fernside and I find out who hasn’t.  Angry tears.  Briscoe was going to go to the college with Lloyd Beaumont.  He wasn’t.  He was going to Royds Hall.  So was Chris Burns who went to school just behind the brickworks.  Most of 4A and 4B passed.  But there was passing and passing.  Alec Eales and Gordon Sibald hadn’t and went to Rawthorpe.

violinPlatt taking passing 11-plus

I took the eleven plus during the following eighteen months and somehow got to the next stage in education. Thanks to Butler’s 1944 education act apparently. No good if you didn’t pass though. Potentially a life as a second class citizen. Sure its about how the individual perceives it, but it was still massive for lots of people.

When I finally started at New College, older brother was about to leave. He still knew everything.

I took the eleven plus during the following eighteen months and somehow got to the next stage in education. Thanks to Butler’s 1944 education act apparently. No good if you didn’t pass though. Potentially a life as a second class citizen. Sure its about how the individual perceives it, but it was still massive for lots of people.

When I finally started at New College, older brother was about to leave. He still knew everything.

The Casuals had been playing as a formal cricket club for 4 seasons. Membership was up to 40, including the new categories of non-playing members and honorary members. In 1955, the committee and AGM minutes record that the 7 match skippers all resigned and were immediately re-elected, as was the committee. Evening fixtures were dropped. The arrangements for the winter shed reverted to Sunday afternoons and the season’s accounts showed a surplus of £9.1.2d.

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