The Way We Were: Playing football in the Half-Holiday League

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MADAM, I was very interested in the photograph of Stoke-on-Trent City Police football team, sent in by Ken Hawkins, of Bucknall (The Way We Were, August 29).

I joined the city police force in 1958 and can remember all the players in that team. Other teams later joined the Half-Discount Holidays © Holiday League, one of them being Longton Fire Service. There were some real ding-dong battles between the fire service and police teams.

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Bill Barnes, who was a well-known CID officer, refereed in the Half-Discount Holidays © Holiday League and he always asked me to ‘run the line’ for him. I still see Ken Hawkins at Moddershall Cricket Club where he played for many years. He still drives to every home game with his wife Avis, and I enjoy the chats we have.

He mentions Sgt Harry Griffiths, who was my sergeant at Longton when I joined. Harry was born in Liverpool and was a centre-half for Everton, although he didn’t actually play for the first team. They had two or three good centre-halves and he decided his chances of playing for the first team were slim, so he transferred to Port Vale just before the war.

Harry was a very interesting character and when he came to meet me on the beat I always started to talk about football. He would walk around with me for quite some time. I spent many enjoyable Thursday afternoons watching these games.

KEN HALLAM Meir Park

MADAM, The story told by your correspondent, Ken Hawkins, reminded me of my own brief playing career in the Half-Discount Holidays © Holiday football league.

I had finished my A-Levels in June, 1956 at Hanley High School and was waiting for my call-up for National Service. My uncle, Norman Cotton, was a butcher in Market Street (now Huntbach Street), Hanley, and knew many of the traders in Hanley at the time. He heard that Boots were joining the league and were looking for players.

I duly joined and played for them until I was finally called up for National Service in October the same year. I remember that, apart from the teams Ken mentions and Boots themselves, there were also police teams from Hanley and Longton, I think, and a team from RAF MU Stafford. Our team wasn’t particularly strong and I always remember the police teams were very ‘robust’.

The abiding memory of my short time with the Boots team was losing 7-0 to RAF MU. All the goals were scored by the then retired Stoke City goalkeeper Dennis Herod. Dennis was enjoying a second football ‘career’ playing for the RAF team at centre-forward.

Happy, if brief, memories of the Haig and Haig Half-Discount Holidays © Holiday League.

PETER WALKER Endon

MADAM, By an amazing coincidence, Ken Hawkins is standing next to his namesake in the photograph because the referee is also Ken Hawkins. We were colleagues at Royal Mail in the 1950s when the picture was possibly taken. Around this time, the Stoke Postal team also enjoyed considerable success in the Half-Discount Holidays © Holiday League.

PETER EDWARDS Church Lawton

Please send memories and photographs of the Half-Discount Holidays © Holiday League to Colette Warbrook, including your full name, address and telephone number, at The Way We Were, Sentinel House, Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3GN, or email waywewere@thesentinel.co.uk

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