My fa­ther was one of the Cot­tage Homes cup team

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS -

My fa­ther Sid­ney Had­dock is in the pho­to­graph of the Cot­tage Homes foot­ball team which ap­peared in the Bu­gle dated Septem­ber 26. He was the boy fur­thest left in the back row.

My fa­ther was one of a fam­ily of seven chil­dren or­phaned in 1914, and as a con­se­quence four chil­dren were within the age group war­rant­ing en­try into the Cot­tage Homes for care, up­bring­ing and ed­u­ca­tion. As my fa­ther was the youngest, all his for­ma­tive years (1914 -24) were spent un­der their guid­ance and sup­port.

He lived in house num­ber 7 (of 8). He re­called that each house had three bed­rooms con­tain­ing ten beds, with ad­di­tional rooms for the Fos­ter Mother and as­sis­tant Fos­ter Mother.

The su­per­in­ten­dent was Mr Wolver­son, a lo­cal preacher, who had his own bowl­ing green, and the homees had their own farm and al­lot­ments to cul­ti­vate the food. All the chil­dren had to work in the dig­ging and grow­ing of the gar­den pro­duce. At any given time there was al­ways a min­i­mum of 40 spades avail­able to en­sure no skiv­ing among the big­ger chil­dren, who were also ex­pected to help with the gen­eral up­bring­ing of the younger ones.

He re­called with great af­fec­tion Miss Cooper, his Fos­ter Mother – stern but with an un­der­ly­ing kind­ness for all her chil­dren.

The res­i­dent car­pen­ter was also the cob­bler, Mr Frank Banks, who had ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to train the foot­ball team. With a con­tin­u­ing change of age groups it was im­pos­si­ble to keep to­gether the team of 192122 who ap­par­ently won the Cork Cup, scor­ing 25 goals in five matches, with­out con­ced­ing one, with my fa­ther scor­ing a penalty in ev­ery game.

They al­ways had to at­tend St Thomas’s Church, morn­ing and af­ter­noon each Sun­day, and an oc­ca­sional trip to Blue­bell Wood in Bush­bury was con­sid­ered a ma­jor event.

A fi­nal anec­do­tal tale con­cerns an ap­par­ent ar­range­ment with New Cross Hosp­tial (known to my fa­ther as The Spike, due prob­a­bly to the work­house con­nec­tion) that the homes’ bak­ery pro­duced a cer­tain amount of loaves for New Cross, and when my fa­ther was older he some­times went with the horse-drawn van to de­liver the load.

On one oc­ca­sion the horse had slipped his bri­dle, but hap­pily trot­ted his way down the Wed­nes­field Road, turned right and calmly ne­go­ti­ated his way to the ap­pro­pri­ate drop­ping off point, ob­vi­ously mem­o­ris­ing a well worn route.

As the school leav­ing age was 14, all chil­dren were then dis­charged into the com­mu­nity, but not with­out the homes know­ing that they had a job to go to and some­where to live.

The abid­ing me­mory left with my fa­ther was of a dis­ci­plined and strict regime but tem­pered with an over­rid­ing will of the staff to keep the chil­dren fit and well bal­anced to meet the rigours of the out­side world that still ex­isted in the 1920s.

A.G. Had­dock, Fairview Grove, Wed­nes­field, Wolver­hamp­ton

Stand­ing, from left: Frank Banks (trainer), Sid­ney Had­dock, G Hardy, C Sum­mer­field, Fred Richards. Mid­dle row: Ike Ben­ton, Dave Cal­lear, Billy Walker, Bobby Lees, Al­bert Ab­bots. Front, on ground: Fred Cheshire, Ted Evans

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