Brownhills United 1974-5: Athletic figures and groovy hairstyles

A couple of weeks ago an enquiry about Brownhills United football team reached me from Andy Richards in Florida, USA – he wanted to know if anyone had any memories of this long lost footy team.

There was a surprisingly strong response to the post, which pleased me as I thought it might be a slow burner.

Since we’ve had plenty of material about Walsall Wood FC, and a little about Brownhills Albion, I thought the chances of finding out much about this team were limited: How wrong I was proven to be.

I’ve had a great message and photo sent in by Bob Woodward, a veteran of the team, who’s supplied a wonderful photo and some great memories.

My thanks to Bob for an excellent and fascinating contribution. Wonderful.

Please, if you remember the team, can answer Bob’s points or have anything at all to add, do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Bob Woodward wrote:


They look like a fine bunch of lads. Image kindly supplied by Bob Woodward.

Hello Bob,

Following Andy Richards enquiry about Brownhills United here’s a photograph of the squad that won the Staffs County Div 2, season 1974/75. I think it was Div 2.

They are. Back row L to R. P Chapman(committee), A Pearce, A Dixon, D Kilbride, A Portman, M Beddows, R Jagelski, ? P Mills, N Bailey, J Cooper, M Arblaster , D Wright.

Front row L to R. B Lewis(committee) P Wilkinson, S Surch, M Gerry (Manager) R Woodward, R Hayward, B Cooper.

The two on the ground are L Jackson and M Hawkins.

Others who played that season who do not appear on the photograph are Steve Russell, Billy Ryles and possibly Paul Wilkinson’s brother Phil. Can’t remember, it’s 40 years ago, somebody help please?

At the time Andy was enjoying success with Brownhills, 72/73, Micky Gerry was looking after the football team at Walsall Wood Youth Club. When he was invited to become Brownhills Utd manager, possibly 73,74? Several of the Youth Club team followed him. Myself, Steve Russell, Steve Surch,Pete Mills, Paul Wilkinson and Billy Ryles, maybe.

What I recall about that 74/75 winning season is a fixture backlog that required us to play 5 games, I think, in 8 days and needing to win most if not all of them to top the division. The league was won on the final day with a win at Penkridge.

But, Andy is correct when he refers to problems regarding a permanent home for the club. This squad was denied the chance to play in a higher division because the facilities at the Aldridge Airport ground we were using were not considered good enough. Is that where we were playing? I recall an offer to move to Yates Sports ground near the Turf pub but, that was rejected by Brownhills Utd. Again I need help for confirmation.

A few of us left at the end of that season including myself so, I’m struggling to help Andy after that. I cannot remember if Mick managed the following season or if Barry Copper took over then. Mick was certainly at Walsall Wood f.c a few seasons later, reunited with myself, Dennis Kilbride, Alan Dixon and Alan Pearce. Barry was also at Walsall Wood in the early 80’s so, did that coincide with Brownhills Utd ceasing to exist?

Sadly a few on the photograph are no longer with us. Mick Gerry, Pete Mills, Paul Wilkinson and John Cooper. I’m also aware that 2 of the players Andy listed, Bruce Fryer and Ticka Brookes, have joined them on the great footie pitch in the sky.

I do bump into some of the other lads occasionally, Dennis Alan Dixon, Bob Hayward and Martin Hawkins and I’m glad to report that all retain the same . And Barry Cooper has only recently stopped wearing those flared trousers.

Best regards,
Bob Woodward

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18 Responses to Brownhills United 1974-5: Athletic figures and groovy hairstyles

  1. Vicky says:

    Hi Bob
    My uncle Alan Portman is on top row and my next door neighbour Brian Lewis is also pictured, any chance you can email the image please?

  2. Dave (Eddy) Edwards says:

    There are some great memories among that lot

  3. Rob Sollom says:

    Pete Mills was my cousin. Sadly no longer with us. It’s lovely to see this picture. Thanks Dobbin. 🙂

  4. Andrew Richards says:

    Great comeback to my inquiry Bob (Dobbin)

    After more thought I think I joined in 1971 and played until 1973 when George Martin became player/manager, George had just retired from the Woods 1st team after many years as first choice. So when he arrived I knew who his obvious choice as keeper was himself. I came back after he left (I think after a year or less) and at that time Mick Gerry was in charge of the 1st team and Macca Beddows was first choice keeper so I played for the newly created 2nd team.

    I was part of that crazy run in that you talk about though, I got my chance when I think Macca had to go to a wedding and I had a blinder, after that Mick started playing us alternately. Do you remember the night game against Walsall (3rd team) when we showed up at the West Midlands college on Broadway only to realize we had to be at the University ground on Birmingham road. So with failing light already going to be a problem we eventually started 30 minutes late and went in to darkness for the last 15 minutes during which time Walsall equalised. After that I lost my place for the last couple of games, so assume Mick blamed me for not having “night vision”.

    Sorry to hear of the passing of those guys. Hopefully your post will bring a few more of the old players on to this blog. Alan Portman’s granddaughter, Did you tell Alan about it yet ?

    Andy Richards

    • Vicky says:

      Hi Andy

      Alan is my uncle.

      I will pop up and see him this weekend, was hoping to print the photo off for him if that’s ok with everyone, this image is not ideal for making bigger though. It’s a great picture, I’ll ask him for some memories too!
      Thanks for sharing.

  5. Michael Gerry was on the books at Birmingham city for some time after leaving school, but released not for lack of skill, but lack of weight and frame to stand up to the pro game. Used to play footy with Dennis Kilbride and his brother, John Daft, Ronnie Cole, the Burton boys (from by St James, and Barry Cooper. In those days we played on the old field by the cricket pitch, but mostly on the patch behind the cinema, that woulld be earlier than this (sixties) Ah the good old days.

  6. bob jagielski says:

    great times played for mick gerry still remember killer.winkie.barry and johnny cooper/alan/great times bob yagy jagielski liveing in nz now

  7. John Daft says:

    I’m with you Mick, a bit earlier! Brownhills United was first formed round about 1960 by the ‘uniting’ of Brownhills St. James and Brownhills Scouts. I wasn’t around long as I left Brownhills in 1960. I remember Brownhills St.James was the first team to play on the newly seeded pitch in Holland Park, Derek Chapman was the Manager (brother of Pete on the back row of the photo). Another I remember from the photo is Brian Lewis, who was a member of the Scouts team when I was there. Names you mention which I remember include Ron Cole and Mel Burton, other names springing to mind include Bob (Libby) Hill, Frank Handley, Alan Winters, Micky Brookes, Bruce Fryer, more are coming to mind – more slowly than they used to !!
    Back to the batters with Barrie Poxon!!

  8. Bob Woodward says:

    Now then Andy, this is how 40 years can distort the memory. I do remember the game against the Saddlers but, my recollection is that we were winning 2-1 when the ref abandoned due to the light. I’ve just discussed this with Gordon Mennell, who can remember 40 years ago but not 40 minutes ago. But, he recalls that night as I have done. He reminded me that Winkie scored a terrific solo goal that night.
    I remember the replayed game was at Fellows Park and Walsall won that one, I’m sure that was also 2-1. I think it was Walsall’s youth team that we played against in the Staffs County and they won it that season, it was possibly the season before we did. Was it? Bob Jagielski can you help? Alan Portman can you help?

    Vickie, regards to uncle Alan, print the photo with pleasure.

    Bob Woodward (Dobbin)

    • Andrew Richards says:

      That just shows you how dark it was…..I didn’t know we had scored a second goal….LOL

  9. Alan PORTMAN says:

    Hi Andy,
    Just got back from holiday so a little late catching up with things. Dont remember the bad light game I think I was working and could not play, but I do remember the game at Fellows park that we lost ,they were just a little to good for us that day.
    Looking at the photo makes me realize what a lot of good players we had in the squad.
    While I don t remember dates or individual games very well , I do remember having to rope the
    pitch off at Aldridge airport and put the nets up before a game. I also remember your dad coming
    to every game , he would stand behind the goal in all weathers, best supporter we had.
    It is great to see all the faces of the 2 teams on photo they were good times.
    Alan Portman

  10. Andrew Richards says:

    Hi Alan
    Great to hear from you. Remember seeing you around town occasionally and at school in the 80’s, one of the main reasons we emigrated was that my eldest daughter was on the Jupiter that sank and it affected her adversely so we decided to make a new start. Best thing we ever did, she recovered and graduated University in the top 2% and provided us with a wonderful granddaughter.

    They really were great times. I had forgotten about roping the pitch off, I think that was a Staffs County League thing, didn’t they also provide the ref and two linesmen ? Had to keep at least 6 people back from the touchline, sometimes the crowd may have numbered 10 !!

    Dad passed away (82 y o) in 1991 just 5 months after we moved to Florida, he really enjoyed his Saturday afternoon football.

    Have you had contact with any of the names listed ? I used to also see Alan Winter very regularly around town, have you seen him lately ?


  11. Alan PORTMAN says:

    Hi Andy I do see Alan Winters now and again and Les Jackson, sometimes Barry Cooper
    Knowing that there are so many still around, I can only assume they are all doing their best
    to avoid me.

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  15. Patrick Hall says:

    I remember Gordon Mennel he was a good friend of my cousin Michael “Tikka ” Brooks

  16. ken mullaney says:

    was there ever a brownhills athletic f.c

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