Black Country Bugle

The days when gods walked among us

- Horace Hill, Hillside Crescent, Pelsall, Walsall

IT was wonderful to read Dan Shaw’s ‘When the Throstles lived close to the nest’ in Bugle 1558.

I have many happy memories of these players, and others who played for both Albion and Wolves, from when I lived in Wednesbury.

Didn’t they look smart and well turned out? I used to see them not just on matchdays but any day of the week, locally.

I used to go to Gordon’s Barbers in Hateley Heath every two weeks with my cousin Brian Hill. Often there were Ronnie Allen,

Bobby Robson, Derek Kevan, Maurice Setters etc. We all had a chat, just as we would do with our workmates at the factory.

Many of us knew roughly where the players lived. My fatherin-law Sid Farmer did a bit of gardening for Ronnie Allen at 169 Hall Green Road. One fond memory for me was of Ray Barlow. Every Saturday, Ray would come into the Adelphi Ballroom after the match to join his lady (her name escapes me) who was a really good vocalist and fronted the

Brian Pearsall Big Band. Ray was a gentleman, always very smartly dressed in his suit. I often greeted him with a quiet, ‘good win, good game or ‘not our day today’. He would nearly always smile and give a brief, shy reply. Over the years he became my favourite footballer ever.

I remember getting the bus from The White ‘Oss in Wednesbury and seeing brilliant Albion wing half Jimmy Dudley getting on at Hill Top and arriving at the Hawthorns, and seeing captain Len Millard just arriving from Coseley by bus.

Living amongst these players was wonderful. No constant TV with loads of pundits talking, or constant transfer talk. Most of our football knowledge came via playing at school, any chance of a game on a piece of open ground, or works football teams, some of which were very good with excellent players. The pink papers were eagerly awaited by fans on Saturday night, plus football magazines, and books of pictures, facts and figures.

I often recall sitting on the bus going home next to Maurice Setters at the time of the Manchester United Munich air disaster. News was scant but coming through slowly. Maurice, like the rest of the passengers, was deeply concerned about what had happened, especially to our own Duncan Edwards. At that moment he was amongst Black

Country people, sharing our concern and our thoughts.

A funny memory is of when I lived next to the GWR railway in Wednesbury. My journey to Molineux was by train, and on the way home after a match with Charlton, the away team were packed into our carriage. I spotted Sam Bartram, a great goalkeeper. He gave me his autograph, and then I asked him for another six for my friends, saying they wouldn’t believe I was next to him on the train.

In a loud, laughing voice, Sam said to his teammates, “he wants my six autographs so he can swap them for one of Bert Williams!”

The carriage was awash with laughter from the Charlton lot – especially Sam Bartram.

I must say a lot of happy memories are brought back to me and many other readers by the Bugle’s excellent coverage of past times of our football clubs. Yes, the memories of the days we lived amongst these well-remembered stars of our local clubs will always be there.

Thank you Black Country Bugle for helping to refresh our memories of the great times we had.

 ?? ?? 1957 ... Ray Barlow catches the train
1957 ... Ray Barlow catches the train

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