News from 1956

Posted: February 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

Just before Christmas I received a phone call from an old work colleague who was in the midst of re-decorating his creaky old house in deepest Tottenham. He said that he had stumbled upon something that could be of interest to my good self and that I should join him for a pint at his place pronto. Thinking that a copy of this years’ ‘Girls aloud’ calendar was about to come my way I raced around to his gaff in about 5 minutes flat ready to take collection of the goods . Upon arriving, I was crestfallen to discover that a rather tatty old newspaper was lying on the kitchen table awaiting my perusal and not pictures of the nations top dance combo. This was a copy of the ‘London Evening News’ dated Friday 6th April 1956 and after my initial reaction of disappointment had abated it quickly dawned that I’d been handed a real gem of a find.
Like any normal bloke I started reading the back pages first. The main headline in the top left hand corner of the page stood out straight away. “Stock can have anything he wants”. Unbelievably, it was the dear old O’s making the headlines that Friday night as the London public was informed that Alec Stock, the 37 year old ‘wonder-boy’ of football management ,had walked out of Arsenal to rejoin Leyton Orient after a mere 53 days in the Highbury hot- seat. Can you imagine such a scenario nowadays? Martin Ling succeeds Arsene Wenger at Arsenal then decides it’s not for him and dashes back to the dear old O’s declaring that he missed everyone so much he couldn’t bear it any longer and had to return to his spiritual home!

These were the days when huge pay-offs for managers didn’t exist and after a meeting at Highbury with Arsenal legend Tom Whittaker, Alec stock left through a side door to drive his ‘new blue saloon car’ to O’s chairman Harry Zussman’s office near Shoreditch Church. Harry couldn’t contain himself after this major coup and declared that with Alec back the O’s would be playing second division football next season, which they did after clinching the third division South title a few weeks later.
After taking in the Alec stock story, a few other sports lines began to catch the eye. ‘ Wimbledon warn fans’ was one headline that stood out. Maybe somebody had gotten wind of a plan to hijack the club and move in 60 miles away back then? But, no. Apparently, a recent match at Plough Lane versus Leytonstone had got a bit tasty resulting in the referee, Mr. Chapman, being verbally abused and hit on the chin with a ‘missile as he made his way back to the dressing room’. The projectile thrower was chased by Wimbledon officials and captured (obviously they were a bit quicker off the mark that Orient stewards 51 years on when the streaker got on the pitch) which resulted in the man (not a Wimbledon supporter) being questioned by the police. Wimbledon printed a warning in the next programe against Oxford City proclaiming that; “It must be understood that the referee is in complete charge of a game and his decisions must be sportingly accepted, even if they are considered by the onlooker to be wrong”. Which, as we all know, is utter cobblers and who’s the bastard in the black to tell me what is right and wrong anyway?

Moving swiftly on to some other snippets we discover that Edmonton are taking on Walthamstow in the third round of the Evening News Charity Cup at The Henry Barrass Ground (nowadays they would have to move all the broken alchopop/vodka bottles off of the pitch first), Reg Trott the Wimbledon Speedway rider had been transferred to Norwich for £200, Brentford part company with Jimmy Bain after 27 years and (under a heading ‘Germans at Upton Park’)we discover that Kaiserslautern, unbeaten this season in 20 matches, will take on the happy hammers next Wednesday at 7.30 pm. Better make that 21 games then.

Next to the Greyhound results (and it’s worth commenting on the racetracks that have now long departed such as my local track at Harringay, West Ham, Hendon, Park Royal and Wembley stadium) are the team sheets for the following day. The mighty O’s travel to Southampton’s ‘Dell’ and line up as follows; Welton, Gregory, Earl, McMahon, Stan Aldous, Blizzard, Phil White, Julians, some bloke called Tommy Johnston, Heckman and Johnny Hartburn. I’ll leave all you ‘statto’s out there to fill in the blanks result and attendance wise. Other famous old names that were turning out for clubs that weekend include Jimmy Hill and Johnny Haynes(Fulham), Blanchflower and Bobby Smith (Spurs), John Bond, Malcom Allison and Noel Cantwell (West Ham) and Jimmy Dickenson (Portsmouth). There were a couple of names that would eventually end up at the O’s, or had already been associated with us in the paper too. George Petchey, who would later manage Orient to the near miss season of 73-4 was turning out for Queens Park Rangers against Millwall (rather him than me) while Chelsea’s team to face Sheffield United featured future O’s keeper Bill Robertson and a tricky winger by the name of Peter Brabrook. But by far the most interesting line up happened to be Arsenal’s, who were facing a tough away game at Turf Moor. Included in the line up to face Burnley at right back was O’s legend Stan Charlton, along with Jimmy Bloomfield (again, another player to manage Orient with great success) and Cliff Holton who played with and under Bloomfield in the latter part of the 1960’s. As a quick aside Both Jimmy Bloomfield and Stan Charlton get name checks in Sir Bobby Charlton’s autobiography ‘My Manchester United years’ which Santa (ok, my mate Tim) slipped under the Christmas Tree a couple of weeks back. With the 50th anniversary of the ‘Busby Babes’ tragedy fast approaching I was gobsmacked to discover that Both Stan and Jimmy played in that famous 4-5 match at Highbury just days before the plane crash at Munich robbed many of that star studded United side of their young lives. In that game poor old Stan got a right going over from united winger Albert Scanlon and three of the goals united scored came via the area that Stan was defending. Jimmy Bloomfield fared a lot better though as he scored twice in that famous encounter.

And that was about it as far as the sports section was concerned. However, there were some interesting insights into the lives of the average Londoner during the 1950’s British Railways announced a 20% fare CUT! This would take place from Tuesday through to Thursday between any two stations in Britain off peak and subject to a minimum fare of 25 shillings. And there were any amount of deaths reported that were gas related too. Amongst various house explosions and such was an incident involving a visiting Indian from the sub continent who turned on a gas fire without lighting it before going to bed. The coroner accepted the theory that the poor geezer had never seen a gas fire before and just thought it worked by itself. Meanwhile, it was announced that ‘Marilyn Monroe is ill’ and was ordered to bed when her temperature hit 101 degrees forcing filming of the film ‘Bus stop’ to be temporarily suspended. There were also some reports that are still pertinent to today’s headlines though. ‘More shelling on the Gaza border’ is a grim reminder that conflict in the region has been going on for generations and is not just restricted to the mayhem of 21st century history. Radioactivity also made news as claims were made that space ships powered by atomic engines would be devised before too long, however, on the very same page the US National Testing Station in Idaho suffered a radioactive leak throughout the building that was deemed ‘harmless’ by officials. The fact that the spokesman was glowing as he made the statement is neither here nor there, I suppose.

Finally, Some daft stories that are the backbone of the British newspaper. Under the heading ‘Live catch’ , Navy mine experts were sent from Chatham to Harwich after a local fisherman trawled up a 4ft long live mine in his nets and left it on the beach 11 years after the finish of WW2. In a report from the juvenile court a witness giving evidence proudly announced that; “I clipped him round the ear and promised him another if he did it again”. That’s the way to deal with knife and gun crime in my opinion. Best of all though, was the reaction by Rotherham’s bus clippies to comments from a local Councillor that ‘smashing blondes’ should not be employed on buses due to the fact that; “ You can’t get efficiency and discipline where men and women work together, especially sending one man and a smashing little blonde out on a bus”. The clippies were ready to go out on all out strike and had mixed support from their London compatriots. Miss June Tomlin of Middleton Street Bethnal Green (clippie on a no.6) had this to say; “If a girl has blonde hair and wants to work on a back of a bus that’s her business. Mr Harris’s remarks are a bit of a liberty.” On the other hand, Mrs Doris Hammond (clippie on the no.11) of Whiston Road, Shoreditch gave some backing to the beleaguered Councillor; “You do get some girls that go ‘ga-ga’ over their driver and there are always some girls who are on the lookout for husbands”. I wonder if the original owner of this newspaper went on to become a television situation comedy writer for LWT twelve years later? Happy days!

The time lord


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