Not, as many think, the call of the wood pigeon, but the plaintive cry that must have echoed up St. Michaels Street in Caldmore, Walsall, over seventy years ago.
I know this isn’t Brownhills, but this has been mentioned on the blog before, and it’s a cause célèbre between I and co-conspirator [Howmuch?] who both thought the legend of the stuck football related to St. Matthews Church, and have scoured that building looking for it – obviously to no avail.
We had both discounted the tale as apocryphal. Little did we know, we had the wrong church, and the ball is still stuck!
Spotted this morning in the wonderful Caldmore Past and Present group on Facebook, this was featured in the Black Country Bugle of 10th February, 2005, where Mr. Lawton of Heath Hayes explains how his pal lost his ball, only for it to be preserved for posterity.
If anyone passes by with a camera, can they please bag a picture for the blog? Cheers.
As they say, Bump it up, Bomper. But not too much, or you won’t get it back…
The incredible tale of a lost ball lodged in a Caldmore church cross for over sixty years!
Last month, the national press featured an unusual story about an old tennis ball, which had been stuck high up in the arched porch of Lincoln Cathedral since before the First World War. The story attracted country-wide attention as the cathedral was about to have scaffolding erected, and the family of the boy who lost the ball all those years ago, Gilbert Bell, were concerned that the ball might finally become dislodged after all those years!
Now Mr D. Lawton, of Heath Hayes, near Cannock, has written to us with an even more remarkable story of a lost ball, but this tale is firmly set in the Black Country. Mr Lawton writes…
‘After reading an article about a ball that had been lodged in the archway of Lincoln Cathedral for 100 years, I thought that some of your readers might be interested in a similar local story from 64 years ago.
‘As a young boy, I attended Caldmore School in St. Michael’s Street, Walsall, and also the church near the top of the street. Opposite the church was Mathew Harvey’s factory. At lunch time, their young apprentices used to play football in the street, and a few of us ten year olds from the school went up the street to join in.
‘The ball that was used was called a sorbo, made from a solid spongy rubber and extremely good at bouncing. On this particular day, one of the youths with his back to the church threw the ball hard on the road, it bounced onto the factory wall and flew off in the direction of the church roof. On the top of the church roof there is a cross that has four circular rings on each of the ends; the ball went straight into the right hand ring, stuck fast, and is still there to this day!
‘I visited the church yesterday to confirm this, and took a few photos that I enclose with this letter. Although the one at Lincoln is older, I think you will agree that the one at St. Michael’s is more remarkable as to how it got there. By coincidence, like Lincoln Cathedral, St. Michael’s is at present surrounded by scaffolding, so I hope that the builders will leave the ball in place for posterity.
‘Some years ago there was a fire at St. Michael’s, although I am not sure if it was an electrical fault in the organ or whether it was struck by lightning. If you look closely in the picture of the cross you can just see that it has a lightning conductor that may have been installed since the fire. If so, it is remarkable that whoever erected the conductor decided to leave the ball in place!
‘We enjoy reading the Bugle, and I know that lots of friends do also. If any of my old school pals remember this, then I would be pleased to hear from them.’
The building contractors, who have been working hard on restoring the church, recently told the Bugle that they took the opportunity of climbing the scaffolding to examine the ball more closely. They found that not only was the ball very hard in texture and stuck so fast that it could not be budged, but also that it appears to have been painted over when the cross was given a lick of grey gloss!