Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Medals - St Mary's & St James's Football Clubs....

Can anyone remember "The Medals" from the 1950's. It was a local football knock-out competition held annually on the St. Mary's Football Club at Prinny Hill (Click over photo to enlarge). Although I say from the 50's, thats when I remember it from, although I am led to believe it may have well started in the 1930s or 1940s... and it had become a very well established event. Usually, during the competition, one or two games would be played in the early evening (utilizing both pitches), and this would go on each evening for up to a month or so.

On the left is a photo from 1961, the final between Grane Villa Vs Collopy's (Collopy Bros and Nephews - An Irish Family that settled in Cawl Terrace going up to Cloughfold. (This photo shows George McKenzie held aloft with the cup - others in the photo l to r: at the back are: John Barnes, Derek Gill, George Mckenzie and Davies, and l to r: at the front are: Bill Brandwood, Terry Navin, Brian Raynor, Bill Parker, Tommy Egan and Jack Austin)
The Teams that played in the "Medals" came from all over the Valley and Accrington as well, though in the main they where local businesses whom had got a team together specially for the event and included teams from J.H. Birtwistles or L. Whittakers etc.... also there where more permanent local teams involved such as Grane Villa and Helmshore United.

It was customary on the final to get hold of a celebrity to present the prizes, and as I remember the last one to come was Ronnie Clayton (of Blackburn Rovers and England). On St. Mary's there was a modernish brick built changing room, which you met as you entered the pitch and this is where the Medals would be presented from, at the end of the Competition.

The photo on the left is from the 1961 final when the Collopy Brothers and Grane Villa battle it out in the mudded goalmouth.
The photo on the right is the presentation being carried out to Grane Villa. Ald John Walsh handing over the tropy to George McKenzie. (from l to r: Joe Moden, Ald John Walsh JP, Jim Healey, Boy at side of trophy we think is Tony Gallagher at about 10 years old, Roy Britland, George McKenzie receiving Cup, Tony Morgan, Brian Nuttall, Dennis Grenaghon, Tommy Egan, Jimmy Ormerod, Terry Navin)

I am informed that the "Medals" finally stopped in 1969 with the Final between Franklands vs J.H. Birtwistle, and Franklands ended up the Winners. Some of the players in that great final were, for Franklands: Dave Blackledge, Jim Mead, The late Roy Webb and John Flynn and some of the players for J.H. Birtwistle were: David Harvey, John Willan, Paddy Clarke and Jeff Wolfenden.
This was the last competition because before long the area was to be taken for the building of the new by-pass and other redevelopment of the area.

Both Haslingden St. Marys and Haslingden St. James Football pitches where next to one another down on Prinny Hill and they where each enclosed in part by timber railway sleepers stood on end with pointed tops... I played on the St. James field many times with the school and can remember the changing room which was a timber building which was situated to the Swinnel Brook side of the field. Lamberts Cotton Mill was just over the brook and wall..and further back was the village of Carrs.

Cash had a lovely house closeby to both football fields and it got the nickname "Ponderosa"...
Thanks to Martin Molloy for providing the three "Medals" photos and naming the players etc.

Porritts Football Club, Helmshore in the Medal Competition in the early 60s
Back Row from L: Frank Crompton, Ronnie Whittaker, Laurence Barlow, Bob Kay, Bob Haworth, David Braithwaite, John Wadsworth, Raymond Moore
Front Row from L: Tony Frost, Brian Haworth, John Brockbank, David Harrison, Brian Kay.
(Photo kindly sent in by Brian and Kathleen Haworth via Jack Pilling on 8th Jan 2015) Please click over to enlarge.

These photos below have kindly been contributed by Marie Ives and are of the Spring Vale Mill Football Team taken in 1932.  They won the Haslingden Church Institute Football Medal Competition during that year.

Spring Vale Mill Football Team taken in 1932 (Click over photo to enlarge)
(Photo: Kindly contributed by Marie Ives and uploaded here on 25th September 2015)

George Taylor front row 2nd left, Wilf Chaplow (back row 2nd left) next to him is Jimmy Brierley (centre), and to his right Billy Whittam.
The team won the Haslingden Church Institute Football Medal Competition

For me this photo has brought up another question! I personally can only remember the "Medals" being played on the old St. Mary's.  So did both the St James's and St Mary's run independent "Medal" Competitions and if that be the case, did the competition in later years become merged as one or did the St. James's just pack up with the St. Mary's continuing.  DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED - IF SO PLEASE LET US KNOW...THANKS!

Spring Vale Mill Football Team taken in 1932  (Click over photo to enlarge)
(Photo: Kindly contributed by Marie Ives and uploaded here on 25th September 2015)

This photo shows the cup being presented by the Mayor (looks to me like Mr. Baxter)