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1950s 'were the glory years' in Staffordshire

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: August 25, 2014

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ASK Peter Hill to name the favourite era in his life and, like most of us, he will declare that the glory days were in his youth when all the world seemed young and for Peter, that was the 1950s.

Back then, Peter and his siblings lived in a house on Brewery Yard at Great Haywood not far from a slaughterhouse where cattle and pigs were regularly made ready for the butchery trade and the domestic table.

His family later went to Tolldish Lane, a move which meant hiring a horse-drawn hay wagon and piling all the family possessions on it in preparation for a ‘new life’, though they hardly moved more than a few hundred yards.

"The horse nearly bolted because of a passing army convoy . . . in those days, traffic through Great Haywood also included football coaches travelling from north to south and vice versa," he recalls.

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Peter says that when he's with some of his contemporaries they declare that in the 1950s, they experienced 'the best of England' with people having a respect for each other and young people able to leave the job they didn't fancy and get another without problems.

“Morally and spiritually, we were a better nation," says Peter.

One highlight for young people in Great Haywood in that era was the founding of a youth club meeting in the local Memorial Hall and led for a number of years by Colin Yarwood, of Trent Lane, Great Haywood.

Peter says the club also met for a short while in huts at Shugborough Park where American troops had been based but later occupied by German prisoners of war.

Initially, it was a boys' club and met every night, except Sunday, and its activities included table tennis and social evenings when they were joined by girls from the village.

Club leader Colin Yarwood also founded a football team which played in the Stafford Youth League and enjoyed remarkable success in the 1956/57/58 seasons reaching the cup final one year.

“The team we were up against was from Stone - I think it was called the St John Boscoe team - and they brought in some really good players. I missed a penalty and we went down 2-0."

In the 1956/57 season, the Great Haywood Youth Club side gained 31 out of a possible 32 points with 123 goals for and just 23 against. Matches could be somewhat one-sided, when the team met up with the boys Brigade side and won 23-0.

Four of the side's players were chosen for the county youth side, but the real star striker was Selwyn Morrall scoring 50 goals one season and playing for a Stoke City side on occasions.

It seems that almost every player had a nickname - Peter was known as Noddy for heading in goals and Ray Oakley was 'Annie' the player who could shoot without a gun.

In those days of glory, the team was regularly highlighted in local press reports help by the father of goalkeeper Maurice Jones who had links with the old Rugeley Times - hence the cartoon.

Thirty years after those glory days, John Morrall arranged a reunion at Great Haywood's Clifford Arms where those who had survived and were able to attend lined up once again for all time's sake.

Sadly, at least for Peter Hill and his playing mates, times had moved on by and life would never be the same.

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