Hope Tavern lads came out of retirement to win the league
THE Hope Tavern football team shown in the Bugle of December 12 was indeed from the pub at Cinder Bank, Netherton.
The majority of us were ex-hill Tavern, Kates Hill, Dudley, players who had finished playing after winning everything in the Dudley and Cradley Heath League including the prestigious Dudley Guest Hospital Cup, and our manager Ray Turley retired from managing the team and began refereeing and joined the D&CH League Committee.
We were tempted to play again whilst in our late 30s because we missed the game and the friendship so much, and were all easily convinced by Fred and Gary Whitehouse who both also played for The Hill Tavern FC previously and took over managing the new side. They both missed the involvement of Sunday football, Fred actually played a few games for the new side!
The League, when we applied to join, I think felt a bit sorry for us due to our ages and put us in Division 6 to begin with, we did however win the league quite comfortably without experiencing a defeat!
They then put us in Division 3, due to other teams complaining we were too old and too good, we again won the league, on then to Division 2 where we won the league again, we finished up in the Premier League and reached the Dudley Guest Hospital Cup final, which we had won eleven years earlier, unfortunately losing narrowly this time. By now we were mostly well into our 40s with a few in their 50s!
I hope other players will be contacting you with more information because there are two people in the photograph whose real names I am unsure of.
The picture I believe was either the first game we played or definitely one of the early games. Standing, from left: Referee for the game Keith Dingley, Managers Fred and Gary Whitehouse, Bob (I think), Wayne Beach, Dave James (he travelled every Sunday from his home in Bristol to play), Greg Portman (his dad and uncle played for The Hill Tavern), Harry Yardley (who played in the same team as me for almost 40 years, from junior school until we eventually stopped playing), Fred Jones (helped every home game putting up nets, marking the pitch, etc.) Carl Dekin, John White (must have been injured at the time of the photograph).
Kneeling: Dave Burrows (father of Dave Burrows jnr who played for Albion, Liverpool, Everton and West Ham), Paul O’neil (Jonjo!), Richard Green (Tichy), Paul Guest, Dean Seymour, Mick Dunn, Wayne Wilkes, Tarter (forgotten his real name).
Really good to remember, a few of us remain in regular contact but sadly not all !
The Hope Tavern lads had a very impressive career