It was the shops, not the pubs, that closed early
REGARDING the photograph of Lye Early Closers in The Bugle edition of January 2, number 1375.
The term ‘Early Closers’ means, basically, players who were free to play sport on an afternoon. Nothing to do with Public Houses.
Some teams consisted of shop-workers whose place of work closed early, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday, [Lye’s early closing day was a Thursday] hence having the afternoon off. Other teams would consist of shift workers or those with jobs with a very early start.
Birmingham had an Early Closers League at both football and cricket – this was, in later years, known as the Birmingham Wednesday Association. I can’t remember when this ceased to exist, but I played for Walsall Corporation Transport Department (cricket) in this League in the mid-1960s.
A glance at some of the teams involved over the years gives an impression of the organisations involved:
Birmingham Postmen, Birmingham Co-op, WH Smith, Birmingham City Police, Lewis’s, Midland Counties Dairy, Great Western Railway, Birmingham City Transport, Smithfield Fruiterers.
Also various areas of the West Midlands had their own teams, hence Lye EC, West Bromwich EC and Walsall EC for example. There was even a team from The White Horse Restaurant, where ever that was.
Coventry also had an Early Closers League, I believe that it may have been held on Thursdays.
So, for all you ‘millennials’, shops used to close early on either a Wednesday or Thursday – guidebooks used to list this information for every town in Britain.
Lye Early Closers Football Club – they were shop and shift workers, nothing to do with pubs!