Last week, we delved into Walsall Council and the Walsall Local History Centre’s online photo archive with a couple of images David Evans found browsing – both images were very interesting, but the football team above, said to be of Brookland Juniors, Walsall Wood in 1930 turns out not to be as it would appear.
We found this out following a remarkable comment by elder statesman of the Brownhills Blog community, David Oakley. David had this to say:
Wassat!!! A football team in Brookland Road in my old ‘neck of the woods’, 1930’s style. Never in this world ! My old eyes rushed to the photo to search for old, familiar faces. Nothing. Didn’t take long to discover the photo had nothing to do with Walsall Wood, so out came my rather blunt and rusty research spade.
First off, from my memory there was never enough kids of the right age in Brookland Road. Coronation Road was but a twinkle in the eye of B.U.D.C. at this time. Benny Yates’s Social Club produced lashings of Club Brewery beer and Jones’s crisps, but very little else, athletically speaking. A semi-clincher came when I discovered the league this team played in Sutton and District League, Hmm, a long way to go, in those days, for a game of football.
I peered more closely at the photo. Didn’t look a very happy group, matching shirts, of course, but stockings didn’t appear to match and wasn’t there a mix of coloured and white shorts? Yet the name on the ball was clear enough ‘Brookland or Brooklands’.
On my steam-driven computer I googled ‘Sutton and Brooklands’ and soon struck oil. Marston Green Cottage Homes was the residence for Birmingham kids who had lost their parents or who had been taken into care. The name ‘Brooklands’ was more elusive, whether the homes were titled Brooklands, or the surrounding area. I do not know, but after the homes were demolished, the name ‘Brooklands Way’ was given to a road which passed over the spot. From my research I think that in the 1970’s there was a home still bearing the name Brooklands Children Home in the vicinity.
Thanks to Birmingham Central Library who some little while ago, established a small team to develop a history of Birmingham Children’s Homes, any research is richly rewarded. There are personal memories of youngsters posted, who shook off the habitual discipline of the Home for a game of football, so I suspect, there would be keen competition for places in the team. Coaching would be thin on the ground as one player remembers, ‘We learned our football skills from the older lads’.
So back to semi-hibernation go I, honour is satisfied. The torment of having a football team in the next street, of my own age of which I knew nothing, has gone. Back to sleep, David.
I am indebted to David Oakley for such a wonderful, insightful and informative contribution – it just goes to show that even ‘authoritative’ sources need to be treated with a degree of scepticism!
However, the thing doesn’t end there. David Evans, following some discussion with David Oakley offline, suggested I make the following request, which I’m happy to do…
David Evans wrote:
Our wonderful Pedro found this 1934 soccer fixture list… So I sent a copy to David Oakley to see what he might remember!
In a following telephone conversation it transpires that David’s first job was at Handford-Greatrex Ltd. – a leather firm at Walsall.
He told me about his interest in and acquired knowledge of the leather manufacturing process, and also the firm’s football team
I would love David to write his memoirs of both the firm and their amazing football team, so I am taking the liberty of sending him a copy of this mail in the hope..etc
Please excuse me taking this liberty, but I sincerely hope he will kindly consent to putting pen to paper metaphorically, and that you will kindly consider publishing the resultant article.
That’s a huge please… To both of you good gentlemen
David, the Young
P.S. I wonder how many of the teams shown were works teams and how many were colliery teams!
That is, of course, a wonderful suggestion David, and if Mr. Oakley is happy to do so, the floor is his and I’dd be only to happy to publish his work, as I always am.
Thanks to everyone involved in this, another bit of wonderfully collaborative, tangential local history.
Please feel free to comment here your encouragement from the wings! Cheers.