April 11, 2019

Northumberland history. Association Football. North Tyne Charity Cup 1949-50

North Tyne Charity Cup 1949-50
By Clive Dalton

 ‘Association Football’ was the main sport in the North Tyne from at least the 1800s for working class folk, as the rules were simple, little equipment was needed, and the game was easy to organise.  Supporting the big national teams such as Newcastle United and Sunderland, where players like Jackie Milburn (Wor Jackie) were cult figures, maintained interest and ambitions for the local lads. 

Different villages that could muster enough young men to take the sport seriously were keen to compete in the competition for The North Tyne Charity Cup.  These were Associated Football Clubs (AFC) from Kielder (Kielder Hearts), Falstone, Tarset, Bellingham, Wark, Barrasford, Simonburn and Acomb.  Humsaugh didn’t field a team so the village lads played for other village teams, which was a common practice.

 There’s little record of the competition’s history, or where the actual cup is now and the photo below of the 1949-50 final may be one of few survivors of those times.  Graham Batey now aged 90, is the only surviving member of the young men in the photograph he proudly framed and kept over the years. 

Graham said he didn’t play in the first losing match of the season, when Bellingham were beaten 10-0 by Barrasford, but he did play at Inside Left then Outside Left after returning from National Service in the RAF in Hong Kong. Bellingham won the cup by beating Barrasford 2-1. The village GP Dr Kirk presented the cup and he would have brought many of the players (including Graham) into the world.

Graham joined the family building firm with his father and Uncle Arthur, founded by his grandfather Joseph Batey.  They built and repaired many of the houses in Bellingham and the North Tyne valley over a very long period.

Jim Irwin holding the cup in the photo was the captain. The team didn’t have an official coach, although Graham says Matt Sisterson, a village notable, gave him some personal coaching.

The older men in the photo were ‘the committee’. Ernie Scott, who ran a grocer’s shop in the village as well as a van to extend the business was secretary, and Jack Maughan, chief cashier of Lloyds Bank was treasurer.  Graham remembers Jack being very proud of the 50 pounds Sterling he banked from one notable match.  Entry was sixpence for an adult and children were free- so they’d had a great turnout with a crowd of 2000!

Bellingham played on the Show Field where the roadside shed could be used for changing if needed, and for spectators to file through to pay.  And there was the enormous advantage of the grandstand for a good view and shelter.

The committee used to have a weekly meeting during the season in the Black Bull hotel, even though some were staunch Methodists like Graham’s father George and uncle Arthur Batey, with alcohol not on their menu.  Graham reckons it would be the only time his father went into a pub in the village, where there was plenty of choice among the four pubs to support! The framed photo hung in the Black Bull to be admired for many years Graham said.

Graham can’t remember the Cup being sponsored by any one source, but the Club must have raised enough funds (probably mainly from gate takings) to provide the jerseys, shorts (called knickers) and boots for the players.  Travel to other venues was provided by local bus.  Bellingham played in black and yellow shirts.

The ball in those days unlike today’s light plastic valve-inflated balls was made of strong leather sections stitched together.  Inside was a rubber bladder, which after blowing up through a tube was tied off and folded back inside the ball. A lace then kept this in place across the entrance like lacing up a boot, which was memorable whenever you headed the ball which ended up being very heavy, especially when wet!  So putting more air into the ball was always a mission.

Graham cannot remember who took the team photograph, which is interesting as it would have needed a camera with large film or more likely a glass plate. Certainly the standard Kodak Box Brownie of the time would not have coped. The only person around at the time with the appropriate equipment would have to be the noted professional village photographer Frank Collier who had his shop, studio and darkroom in Lockup lane in the village. But the caption on the photo is not his familiar backhand style, but could have been done by an assistant.

Newcastle United
'Wor Jackie' was the player everybody knew, and John McPhail, who I sat beside in primary school and we both failed our 11+ exam on the same day, had gone to a match (Newcastle United versus Arsenal) in London in 1954 while doing his National Service.  He actually got Wor Jackie's autograph on the back of an envelope, but had it stolen years later while in the Merchant Navy.  Note there are no  African names in the teams.

Special thanks to Graham Batey of Lynn View, Fountain Terrace, Bellingham for the photograph and information.  Thanks also to John McPhail for the programme copy.  April 2019

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