Bump it up, Bomper!

I thought today that since the old gentlemen at the bar were reminiscing over footie, and I myself had mentioned Walsall Wood’s long love affair with the not so beautiful game on my 365daysofbiking Tumblr journal this week, that I’d feature this piece from David Evans. So get your strip on, fire up the tea urn and grab a meat pie (but hopefully not one like did a couple of weeks ago….)

My thanks, as ever, to David. Great stuff.

They hurt. Picture supplied by David Evans.

Walsall Wood Football Club, affectionately known as the Prims, was an important part of village life before and after the last World War.  Saturdays and football went together. The preparation for the afternoon kick-off was meticulous; the lines were chalked, the goal nets were hung, the corner flags were pushed into the ground, the primitive public address system was checked.

‘One, two. One , two.’ Screech!   It was working as normal.

Then the military music blasting over the faulty Tannoy system guaranteed an eager  mass anticipation, and a big gate for the match, whoever the heroic  visiting opponents were. The “life-saving” refreshments bar  had opened and  hissing bursts of steam mixed with the unique aroma of freshly- brewed  Co-op blue packet tea tempted the arriving spectators into buying  that welcome and much needed cuppa and a sarnie (Spam and Marge, dear)  before kick-off.

The crowd grew bigger, jostling for vantage points  in the big and little stands. Humorous comments ,delivered in pseudo Regimental Sergeant Major voices, began to ring  out all around the field,  much to the amusement of the supporters of both home and the visiting  teams. The tension mounted and the wooden rattles were cracking in throbbing unison.    Come on!

A fanfare!  At last, a fanfare! The teams, officials, and trainers emerged from the dressing-rooms to the appreciative and spontaneous applause of all of the spectators  and the players jogged in balletic, yet muscle-stretching  fashion onto  the pitch. A coin was thrown by the ref. The two captains looked down at the ground. They shook hands,  and then… a whistle blew. The match began to a mighty roar from the crowds , followed by the coughing of the smokers among them.  Another  noble tradition was enacted.

Walsall Wood sixties footy team - picture supplied by David Evans. Sadly, this is the Boy’s Brigade team, not Walsall Wood FC, pictures of whom seem a bit thin on the ground.

To all the local young lads among the spectators the pitch seemed enormous, the heavy leather case ball seemed huge, and, my word it did hurt if you tried to head it. But, in the event, Arthur, the Wood’s  trainer, was always  on duty,  like a true Gladiator, and Military Surgeon, with his bucket of water and his ‘magic’ sponge. In fact this was often seen  being put to good  use,  especially if a player in the opposing team had become ‘a bit mouthy’ as the players in the home side called it, passing disparaging comments about the prowess of the local side. This invariably resulted in that hapless player receiving a well-aimed full-force shot of the case ball in his ‘scroticles’ as my mother called them. Somewhere inside the front of his shorts, I think.

As the red-faced player collapsed to the ground writhing in agony Arthur would  instantly rush to the victim’s aid, a kindly deed, and  was seen to thrust a sponge filled with near-freezing water down the shorts and perform a sort of circular, mystical, almost  clutching movement. This made the player yell out and would bring even more tears to his eyes, and rousing cheers from the home supporters.

But the magic cure had worked.

The player would regain his feet and, though now noticeably quieter, would continue playing the game, if a trifle timidly, to the joy of the home spectators.

Away matches were a glorious event.  Hot baked potatoes and Jones crisps from the man outside the cinema in Walsall   were the treat that the young children looked forward to most of all as they waited for the coach in town. Collecting the players’ mud-caked strip after the match to take home for their moms to wash was the unwelcome weekly  chore that had to be done, home or away.

I never did know who the dear old lady spectator  was who used to call out her popular cry  of ‘Bump it up, Bomper’, but  home matches weren’t quite as enjoyable without her contribution to the festivities, or the rejoinder, from  the men in the crowd;  ‘Do as the good lady says, Bomper, and bump it up!’ Good times, indeed!

David Evans, November 2011

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19 Responses to Bump it up, Bomper!

  1. David Oakley says:

    Hi David,
    Great stuff ! and so very nostalgic. Loved the picture of the caseball. Never get one past the Health and Safety bods, these days. Interested in the reference to Jones crisps, can you still get them ? Mr. Jones had a little place in Leighswood Road, Aldridge, A little old chapel, originally. I was christened there, then it became a jam factory, before the crisps. Mr Jones used to go around the W,M. clubs, personally to take orders for crisps.
    The baked potato man for many years was “Ant” Antonio Diccico, who sold ice cream in summer and potatoes in winter. Many times did I miss the last bus to Walsall Wood and faced an hours walk, consoled only by a 6d bag of Ant’s potatoes.

    • Rob Jones. says:

      I was doing half-hearted Google search for Jones’s Crisps because my daughter remembered that I had mentioned them to her. Very pleased to come across this. It is likely that the Jones brothers were relatives of mine. My family had a history of chip shops, and dad told me about two brothers who had a crisp factory in Aldridge. They were possibly brothers to my nan, Rose Jones, who lived in Highbridge Road, Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield. I have a memory of meeting them once, in the 50s, and of eating a packet of their crisps.
      I see that a decendant has commented but I can’t find the relevant article or link to see who it is. I now need to start a family tree!

      • Sean Johnson. says:

        I’ve just seen your post about Jones’s Crisps. My Grandad was, Reginald (Melbourne) Jones was the one brother. His wife, my Grandmother, was Catherine and their daughter, Eveleyn (Eve), is my mother. They lived on Salters Road. My Grandparents have since passed away.

        • Rob Jones says:

          That’s an unexpected post! My post is slightly inaccurate in that the brothers, if it is indeed they, would have been brothers to Rose Jones’s husband, Alfred. I haven’t any evidence for anything at the moment, although some research is going on.
          I have a very clear memory of meeting both of them in the very early 60s or late 50s, on a rare visit they made to family in Boldmere. There’s no-one left alive now to ask, sadly.
          Thanks for posting, I’ll record this so I don’t lose it, and see what comes of it..

          • Sean says:

            Hi Rob. I guess it would be! Lol! As it was a few years ago you posted. I was just seeing whether there was any information or photos out there regarding Jones Crisps and there were only two threads came up, one being yours. I’ll try and get more information from my Mom. As far as I can remember it was my great grandad and my grandad that had the business. The factory was in Leighswood Road, Aldridge (an old chapel) which is still there and currently a plastics factory.

            • Rob Jones says:

              Sean, I’ve got some old photos that need going through so I’ll take a closer look than usual, just in case…
              If any more info turns up perhaps we can exchange notes. I can actually remember eating a packet of those crisps! I’m 68 now, so a long while ago.
              Enjoy Christmas, and thanks again for responding.

              • Sean Johnson says:

                That would be great Rob. Thank you. My Mom is 69. I’ll see if she has any old photos too. Have a great Christmas!

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    Jones crips sadly no longer exist..they and the little blue packet of salt inside the bags have gone. I noted that a descendant of Mr Jones has made a comment on one of the articles, though. Five packs of Woddies or Park Drive may still exist..but I wonder how much they cost nowadays! I wonder if Passing Cloud, Senior Service or Craven A cork tipped are still on the market. The Christmas Day Manikin cigars may have gone, too!
    The crisp “chapel” is still there..have a look on Google Earth, but just notice how all the mineral lines, and bridges, have disappeared, and three storey flats have sprouted up everywhere. Juggling the hot spuds was an acquired art! Was the cinema the Odeon, by St Paul’s? The football team toured abroad at one time…to Gornall and Dordon…well, the language there was different! Had to keep the coach driver going on ale to get back safely!

  3. David Oakley says:

    Hi David,
    Pity about the demise of Jones’s crisps, I had an Aunt who worked there in the late ’40’s. The cigarettes you mention do not seem to be around anymore. Do you remember Players “Joystick ? These cigarettes were twice the lengh of an ordinary cigarette. Then there were Kensitas, with an added “Four for your friends with every packet of twenty.
    The cinema in Darwall Street, opposite St. Paul’s church was the Imperial. The Classic was at the bottom end of Stafford Street, The Palace was in the Old Square. the Empire was in Freer Street The Gaumont on the Bridge and the Savoy on Townend Bank. All six cinemas were operational within the same period and all within less than half a mile of each other. How times change !
    Visitors to Oak Park in the FA Amateur Cup included Walton & Hersham, Crook Town, Raunds Town and Leytonstone (who beat us 6-1) No disgrace there, though, as at the time they were one of the top amateur clubs in the country, But the clashes most eagerly looked forward to were the Christmas Day/Boxing day matches against Ogley Hay who played on the Warreners Arms ground. They really were something, especially the return encounter on Boxing Day when grudges from the earlier match were repaid in full.by both sides.

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    the wonderful playing field and park by the football ground have changed beyond recognition but the afternoon knitting ladies in the pavillion, the bowling greens and putting were good fun. The tennis courts too were a popular attraction. Do you remember the giants’ stride? I bet the younger generation will be scratching their heads over this one. One coach outing in my childhood took a group to Wicksteed…wonderland! Matlocks petrifying wells were incredible.. Was it Glider coaches or Dunn and Hale coaches? Had a round mesh covered heater behind the driver. Good fun. PIty about the loss of the playing field though.
    David ( old genteman no 2 standing at the bar . My wife questions “gentleman”)

  5. David Oakley says:

    Hi David,
    Yes, I well remember the Giant Stride and standing on one end, holding the bars and doing the “sending up” When you heard a little clanking noise from the upper structure (we called it “knacking”), you had reached the limit. In my time, the park was composed of Big swings, baby swings, large and small joywheels, frying pan, helter-skelter (slide) boat, giant stride and six leapfrogs, graduated in side, with the toilets and drinking facility in a central position. the facilities on the other side of the drive, bowling green, tennis courts, pavilion, etc., were added at a later date and were much enjoyed by the adults.
    Dunn and Hale did run the Glider coaches from a garage just above Anchor Bridge, in Brownhills High Street. The livery was a rather sombre brown and cream but the coaches were very comfortable with curtained windows.
    i went to Matlock and Matlock Bath once or twice as a youngster. I remember marvelling at the “Heights of Abraham” having seen nothing higher than the pit mound at the coppy pit before then !
    Fancy your wife questioning the “gentleman” bit ? I’m sure you behave impeccably at all times, David, as I do myself (with my fingers firmly crossed behind my back). Regarding “old” well, living in the “Last of the summer wine” county, we are all still mischievous kids at heart, only we move a little slower nowadays and I’ve no doubt the same applies to the “more mature” gentlemen of Walsall Wood.

  6. David Evans says:

    Hi David
    I have a vague, very vague memory of going with the Wood football coach to, I think it was Port Vale , in the Potteries..The stands were vast and mostly empty. The pitch was nearly completely mud. What stands out most of this trip was the sad view from the broken stands..over the smoky, grimy town and the pottery kilns in action…in great numbers. How that town has changed..like the Black Country did when the clean air act revealed Dudley Castle visible for the first time from Shire Oak! My wife reckons I have passed “mature”!Bless her. Yes, her socks are wrinkly!

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  8. brian stringer says:

    Although I joined THE WOOD committee a couple of years after these photos were taken I can still spot a few who remained during my time. The first B/W one features 3rd left the great England fast bowler Freddie Truman, next to Radio sports presenter Tony Butler. then Chairman Stuart Boden. Obviously a Sportsmans Evening. The three standing on the pitch are my old mate, groundsman Geoff Woodward, Darryl himself with Terry Cotton.
    The next B/W features Sec John Rousell, Darryl, Brian Keates and Terry again.

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