Saturday, 19 November 2016

Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s F. A. Cup Final “triangle” ............. another story from Tony Goulding

I have written previously about the footballers who resided in Chorlton-cum-Hardy during the 1960’s and 70’s. 

It has now been brought to my attention that a number of soccer stars had lived in the area a decade earlier

In one of those quirks of history ( which so intrigue this writer ) all were associated with one of Manchester City’s F.A. Cup Final triumphs

Roy Paul, was City’s captain at both the 1955 final when they were defeated by Newcastle United 3-1 and the victorious final in the following year when Birmingham City were beaten by the same score.(1)

He lived at 27, Vaughan Road.
Nearby, at 25, Wyverne Road lived Frank Swift who played in goal for City and England either side of the Second World War.

As a young 20 year old he was part of City’s team which won the F. A. Cup in 1934.  He famously fainted at the final whistle and had to be helped to collect his winner’s medal. (2)

Tragically Frank was one of Manchester’s losses in the Munich Air Disaster of February, 1958.

At the time he was working as a journalist for the “News of the World” reporting on Manchester United’s European Cup matches.

There are still more connections however as also on board that plane was United’s manager, Matt Busby, who not only a  team-mate of Frank Swift during the 1930’s (also appearing in the 1934 Final ) but also had a house just around the corner at 214, Kings Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

A final coincidence is that when Manchester City next triumphed at Wembley, their manager Joe Mercer was living at the nearly adjacent 71, St. Werburgh’s Road.

Whilst checking the information I’d been given regarding these men and carrying out further research I unearthed from my eclectic collection of football memorabilia these items which have social history interest as well as the obvious link to the history of football.

They belonged to my late uncle, Denis, a City supporter who not managing to acquire a ticket for the 1955 final apparently watched the game at the old Gaumont theatre on Oxford Road which was screening live television pictures. Incidentally, as the ticket stub and match programme pictured above seem to indicate, he was somehow able to obtain a ticket for the Final the following season.

Finally I discovered some revealing details concerning the homes of footballers from the 1930/s through to the present day.(3)

It was very evident from both the 1933 street directory of Manchester and the 1939 national register that the football stars at that time were a very long way away from the lifestyles of to-days super-rich megastars.

Many of City’s cup winning team of 1934, including top goal-scorer and England star Eric Brook, lived within walking distance of their place of work as was the norm among the urban working-class for over a century.

Some players stilled resided among the terraced streets which encircled the Maine Road Ground most had moved to the new council housing between Lloyd Street and Princess Road.

During the next two decades footballers saw a slow increase in their living standards in part reflecting a similar rise in those of the skilled working class – of which they were still considered a part. It was not however until the impact of abolition of the maximum wage and other restrictions in, 1961, (4) began to take effect in the mid to late 1960’s that a significant change took place in top footballers lifestyles.

The “triple-whammy” of the introduction of the Premier league and the expansion of Europe-wide club football competitions, the massive media rights revenue this has generated, and in turn the huge foreign investment this has stimulated has catapulted today’ s “Eric Brooks” into the realms of the mega-rich.

© Tony Goulding, 2016

1) Roy Paul is alleged to have echoed City’s 1933/4 captain Sam Cowan’s consoling words to his team after the  1955 losing final, which became the rallying cry for the following year’s cup run, “Don’t worry lads we’ll come back and win it next year”.

2) In his auto-biography, “Football from the Goalmouth”, (an excellent early example of both the genre and his journalistic talent) Frank Swift recorded the following story. Frank was quite distraught at half time , believing he had been at fault for Portsmouth opening goal  and shared his worries with  City’s centre-forward that day Fred Tilson.    To quote the book, ‘Fred replied ”Tha doesn’t need to worry. I’ll plonk two in next half”. Which of course he did.’

3) As always there are exceptions to these generalisations.  Alexander (Alec) Bell was one of the early stars for Manchester United in the first decade of the 20th Century, when they won two league championships and one F.A. Cup. He was also Manchester City’s trainer for ten years including at the 1934 Cup final described above He lived at 58, Brundretts Road. He died suddenly in November, 1934 and, after a funeral service at St. Clement’s, was buried in Southern Cemetery on 3rd December, 1934. (Grave – A 672).

4) These reforms took place following prolonged agitation by the players union, the P.F.A., and only agreed after the real threat of strike action. One of the prime movers during the negotiations on the players union side, was Jimmy Hill later to become both an influential manager, then chairman of Coventry City F.C., and a pundit on and presenter of BBC’s “Match of the Day”

Finally, since finishing this piece I’ve been advised of another Manchester City footballer of the 1950.s with a connection to Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Ronald Phoenix. He was born on 30th June, 1929 and lived on Derbyshire Lane West, Stretford where his father worked in the I.C.I. chemical works.  Ronald, a wing half, made his debut Vs. Arsenal on 26th, January, 1952 and made a total of 55 appearances for the club scoring twice in a career which spanned virtually the entire decade. His final game was on 31st October, 1959 Vs.

Tottenham Hotspur at Maine Road After leaving City  he played two seasons for Rochdale and finished his playing career with non-league, Altrincham. Like many ex-footballers of that era Ronald opened a shop on his retirement in the Stretford/Urmston area.

Frank Swift’s book –“Football from the Goalmouth” edited by Roy Peskett 1948
“A Short History of Saint Clements Church, Chorlton-cum-Hardy”- Ida Bradshaw
Conversations with local residents; Anne at “Post Box” Café, Linda Rigby and Ron Phoenix’s sister Hilda Mason at Chorlton Good Neighbours.

1 comment:

  1. "The King" lived on Claude Road Chorltonville.
    My first Cup Final was the game against Birmingham City. With my football connections I regularly attended the Cup Finals and the United European Cup Final against Benfica. I gave my ticket for the 1966 World Cup Final to my Father as I was under the impression that England would again reach a final. I was 24 and now ,well!!