The days of the Soccer Slaves

Ted Duckhouse, Birmingham City

Ted Duckhouse, playing for Birmingham City. Image from Blues Picture Store – Click on the image to visit the site.

Longstanding reader and contributor to the Brownhills Blog David Oakley writes to me to raise this interesting question. It seems there was a third local footballer of note hereabouts, as well as the Great Dickie Dorsett and Cecil Poynton. I had no idea about this, and I’m intrigued as to the memories folk have of Ted.

It seems that back then, local teams really were local, and maybe football was the better for that…

Thanks to David for yet another thought provoking and interesting conversation piece. David puts a lot into this blog, particularly with his excellent comments, and I don’t thank him nearly enough. Cheers, old chap – it’s always a pleasure.

David Oakley asked:

Hi Bob,

We have had Dickie Dorsett and Cecil Poynton mentioned on the blog, but I wonder how many of our older readers remember Ted Duckhouse, born in Shelfield, who played fullback for Birmingham City for 12 years, in the old Division One and Division Two of  the Football League, a good old Blues stalwart?

Ted commenced his career in the 1930s  by playing for Walsall Wood F.C., before turning professional for Birmingham City in 1938. Sadly, at the time, there was not much money around for professional footballers, ‘Soccer slaves’ as they were termed by Jimmy Hill, president of the P.F.A., at the time. How thing have altered since !

After his football career finished, Ted could be seen catching a bus to Darlaston each morning, as one of the hundreds of factory workers employed in the town. I wonder how many of his fellow passengers realised how close they were sitting to a man who some years earlier had forty thousand spectators following his every move, and whose face had appeared on cigarette cards, they may have collected as youngsters?

Ted finally retired in 1955, his last club being Rushden.



Rushden F.C. Signing Ted Duckhouse in the early 1950s. Left to right: Bob Broton, Ken Ambridge, Ted Duckhouse, Fred Robinson (chairman), Frank Langley, Vic Walker (committee member), ?. Image from the Rushden Research Group.


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9 Responses to The days of the Soccer Slaves

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a big thank you to David the Elder, and to your goodself for this fascinating article….Football players faces on cigarette cards!
    kind regards

  2. Pedro says:

    Ted Duckhouse’s career was curtailed by the war, but he did seem to to have played in Europe!

    Derby Evening Telegraph, December 1944…


    From another part of the world comes a bit of news of football too. RSM Tommy Pounder, who has refereed at the Baseball Ground and other local grounds has sent to CH Marshall, secretary of the Derby and District Football League, an account of a match in Rome on the 14 December 1944, between a British Army team and a Polish XI.

    “Of course”, he says, “the English boys won 10-2, 80,000 spectators saw the game, which was front page news in Courrier Sport a Rome sporting paper. unfortunately I cannot make head nor tail of it as it is in Italian print.”

    British team was…

    Rennie (St Mirren), Beatiee (PNE), Malpass (Fulham), Murphy (WBA), Cullis (Wolves), Collier (York City), Gelard (Everton), Bryan Jones (Arsenal), Duckhouse (B’ham), Rudd (Man C), and Spence (Chelsea)

  3. Fantastic article for our Walsall Wood fc many thanks to David Oakley for this, itll be in a future match day programme

  4. Brian Ansell says:

    All of us kids in Shelfield gave this man the respect he deserved because he was also a gentleman with quiet manners. I have a team photograph that I will post when I dig it out of his son Edward (Teddy) Duckhouse when he was playing a boy for Shelfield Junior School that was on Lichfield road. Edward died quite a few years ago when he was quite young but there is still a younger son in the wings somewhere in this world.

    • Jenna says:

      Uncle edward died when he was 42 of a heart attack. And my dad peter Duckhouse is the youngest son, who is very much alive and kicking after struggles with his health. Who unfortunately did not follow a career in professional football.

  5. John Hopkins says:

    Son Edward played football at a good level, (it might have been Moor Green ), it was a team in the south of Birmingham. The younger son is Peter who also went to Shelfield school (Mob Lane), he was an elegant classy player who played for the team I ran when I taught there. I believe that he didn’t play football after he left school but changed his alliance to hockey and played for (Cannock ?)

  6. Gordon Higham says:

    Knew the whole family well. Peter I know best as we grew up together and was in the same year at all 3 schools we attended. Both Ted Jnr and Peter were good footballers also and took after their dad in that respect.

  7. Mark Chapman says:

    Ted Duckhouse returned to play for Shelfield Athletic in March 1955 after having his contract with Rushden Town terminated by mutual agreement. He scored 5 goals on his return in a 10-0 thrashing of Rugeley W.M.C.

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