By now I would be given a Letts Diary every Christmas and I would keep it going for most of the year. As an 8 year old I was rather serious about recording things in a proper style but the comments were brief and not personal in the slightest.
So for Tuesday 25th April it would have looked something like this.
- Milk Monitor
- Wall game Won and Football Won 6-2
- Reading Stig of the Dump
- Map of the school
- Bus home
- Football – won 13 -9
- Table Football Won 10-6
Playing games in Severn Beach.
At 9 years old we had routine games that any nine year old might have. I was hardly ever in our house playing with my brothers. From first chance after breakfast to time of the sun going down we were out and about. If we did anything together as a family it was only to eat dinner or tea, go shopping with Mum and Dad, or worst of all, stay in because some auntie or family happened to be visiting.
Shopping was a weekly thing. At first we would all pile in the car, by then a Black Morris Oxford, NTX 698, and head to Shirehampton. The Gateway store had a treat in our choice of comic. I would get Goal or later Shoot with its football ladders. Gerald would more likely go for a T.V. magazine or the Beano. We didn’t get pocket money as such. If we wanted something we asked Mum for some money and most times it was o.k. In this way we learned perhaps not to ask for too much and we would have to be fair to each other so as to not appear greedy. Bert Britton’s Sports shop was a place for me to go in and dream of buying bats and football gear. We could get new football boots at Christmas or for birthdays but usually that would have to be bought through Kay’s Catalogue. It was many years later that I had a paper round and could save up for my own Bristol Rovers quartered shirt that I wore to school games lessons.
We had several regular games.
- Football in the playing field: These were usually after school games. Albert Road had enough kids to comfortably make for a big games with two goals. Teams were picked by captains, usually the older boys like Spam or Tats Taylor but we knew to get on the same side as Ricky if we wanted to win. The games would last for hours but usually end with a last goal wins as someone’s mum was shouting for the last of us to get in for tea or a bath. On Sundays the whole village seemed to come to the field and fifteen a side was the norm. The games were self-refereed. The most important player was the one who owned the ball. Annoy them and they would sometimes just go home with their ball and it was game over. Occasionally we might play an away game. That meant going to the field opposite the shops where the kids from Beach Road and Beach Avenue played. We would usually win but the game was different because the pitch had a hedge and people would be watching from the sea wall.
Our team might be
Ian Barton, David Marshall, John McLeod, Tats Taylor,
Ricky Hamilton, Glanville Mills,
Chris Thompson, Steve Hamilton, Richard Stedman, Colin Done,
- Street Cricket: Mentioned before, these games used the lamp post as a wicket and had strict rules regarding sixes and cars. Floodlit cricket came to Severn Beach a long time before T20. Hit the ball straight and you could score plenty as the ball went down the street. Hit across the line and you risked getting it in a garden and being out. The ball was usually a tennis ball. We only used a proper ball in the field. If we did play in the field the games would be test matches and could last five days. An innings would be until your side had been out ten times. The team would change over the days as other people became available to play. You could only run fours or hit sixes on to the road. We had stumps and an old cricket ball but no pads and you learned to play the ball in front of your legs.
- Tennis: This was only ever played around Wimbledon time. We would mark out a court with jumpers and sticks. The net was pretty loose because it was a rope between two temporary posts. To be honest it was pretty rubbish and no wonder we soon lost interest.
- Bike Rides: We would ride for miles. The advantage of living in the Beach then was the relative lack of cars on the road and the lanes that were just that. We could get to Oldbury without going up many hills or crossing main roads. We didn’t race much but did try to go different routes and make loops out of the way we went.
- Short streets races would usually involve jumping the privet hedges or doing a circuit of local roads. The best ones were when we walked across the fields near where Tesco’s is now and run home. These real cross country routes were very tactical. Keep pace with Ricky and try to out sprint him at the end or go a totally different way and hope that they might get bored and slow down. You had to know if there was any bulls in the fields or which were too wet and muddy.
- Fishing: I only did it once. I was bored silly and never did it again. I went to Chesil Pill, outside Studs’ house. We caught Sticklebacks and Eels for a few hours and put them all back. I really didn’t get it at all. Gerald and Derek would spend all day out in the River. They thought nothing of going a mile off the beach along the pipes, doing something called lugging and catching carp Roach and other fish and guess what, putting them back into the River. I loved it best when they came back without their wellies because they had to run faster than the incoming tide. To be honest one look at the water quality and having knowledge of what might be in those pipes meant is was probably best not to eat those caught fish.
At home we had some sports related board games. We had Waddington’s table football rather than Subbuteo. It was a tiddlywinks type flicking game where it was easy to break the players by standing on them, something I think Gerald did deliberately when he realised I would always have the blue team even if they had less than 11 players. We also played Totopoly so long as I could get Marmaduke Jinks. We played cards as a family, mostly Trumps or patience. At school one alternative to football involved throwing balls at the wall and having to catch and return the ball so that your opponent could do the same.
I joined the cubs that did some organised stuff. Activities I remembered were curious things like setting chalk trails around the village and having to follow them. We played crab football in the small scout hut. We did some Easter rallies in Charfield and played the kazoo. It was nothing to keep this chap happy. When we eventually were told that we had to become scouts at a sub of too much money I let my sixership lapse.
On this day;-
1976 Patchway School V Staff XI W 17
1982 Dinton A D 35 (First game for Rickley Park)
1985 Houghton Regis A D 11, 1-0-1-2
1987 2nds Royston A W 22-15
1992 Middlesbrough A 1-2
1998 Blackpool A 0-1
2009 Swindon A 1-2