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A mention for Jack Molyneux - part 10
Post War Football Part l0 Gordon Brown concludes his look into the year l953 I was just about to pen that Oakwood Old Boys were continuing their way to the Guardian Cup final with a third round 5-l thrashing of Golborne United when sad news reached me of the death of one of the stalwarts of the side and my favourite Oakwood player Dave Robertson.
The news was passed on to me by the former Warrington-born Liverpool and Chester star Jack Molyneux, reference to whom is overdue in this series and who is to get a mention here.
Jack is 76 and must still be one of the fittest men of his age in Warrington, doing more than half an hour warm-up exercises in the gymnasium of his Grappenhall home each morning before breakfast, using a static bicycle and a rowing machine.
He used to play lawn tennis with Dave, who was also a good table tennis player and also played soccer for Stockton Heath and Earlestown, and they both excelled in the Stockton Heath tournaments.
Jack was a soccer star from his teens when he played with Orford Youth Club and A. Monk and Co, where he was spotted by a Chester director who was also a director of the company.
It was a time when about 10 Warrington lads, including Sammy Morris and Joe Cleaton, went to Chester, most of them from a successful Boteler Grammar School side, with Jack graduating through the B, A and Reserves sides by the time he was 17 and eventually making his first team debut.
He was a regular in Chester's first team until he joined up for National Service at the age of 21, having been deferred as an apprentice fitter at A. Monk when he was at the usual calling-up age of l8.
After finishing his National Service in the Army at the age of 23, Jack signed for Liverpool just before the start of season 1955/56, spending seven years there, making 249 first team appearances and, as a right-back under the old 2-3-5 static formation, scored three goals. Liverpool paid Chester £4,500 for his services before he made his senior debut against Blackburn Rovers in September 1955.
Molyneux was a tower of strength in defence with a strong tackle and tremendous physique during six of Liverpool's eight seasons in the old Second Division, helping them back to the First Division at the end of the 1961/62 season, when he was part of manager Bill Shankly's early clear-out and returned to Chester for a couple of seasons. Cartilage trouble ended his full-time professional football career and he joined New Brighton.
In Warrington he was also noted as an outstanding lawn tennis and badminton player, but his knees became a problem and in latter years he has been playing golf, giving it up recently to be near one of his two sons in Surrey but then abandoning those plans in order to remain close to his daughter, who has become pregnant and lives with her partner in Bolton. At present he and his wife have four grandchildren.
Jack's younger brother Geoff, also a Warrington lad, also played for Chester, went teaching in Stoke-on-Trent and signed for Stafford Rangers.
Back to Oakwood and their big cup win over Golborne United, whose only goal was a second half penalty by Harry Bennett, a diminutive winger of great skill who mesmerised defences and later joined Stockton Heath, where he continued to star in the Mid-Cheshire League.
Oakwood also had a Bennett, whose first name eludes me and who completed a hat-trick in this match with Les Arnold grabbing two.
When Lowton St Mary's set out on their journey to Statham the sun was shining, but when they arrived the rain began to fall and likewise the standard of their play which followed.
In the first half they were equal to Statham and at the interval led 2-1 through Jackie Prytherch, who went on to manage St Helens Town and other clubs, and Stevenson.
Burbeck slotted home an equaliser in between and another one just after half-time.
Playing down hill, Statham enjoyed territorial advantage in the second half and took the final honours with a goal by Ashurst.
Statham: Cummins;La Page, A.Copland; Osborn, D. Copland, Whitfield; Talbot, Ashurst, Jolly, Burbeck, Moston.
Lowton St Mary's: Waterworth; Anderson, Arnold; Hewitt, Broome, S. Nelson; Prescott, Prytherch, Riley, Stevenson , Greenough.
Lowton were having a lean season by normal standards and had lost their grip on the Guardian Cup, and been knocked out of the Depot Cup and Lancashire Amateur Shield, but still had hopes of finishing in a high position in the Warrington League and keeping their hold on the end-of-season Atherton Charity Cup.
St Mary's had gone out of the Depot Cup 3-1 to Oakwood, who led 2-0 at half-time through Dave Robertson and Arnold.
Ingham reduced the arrears with a clever flick over goalkeeper Foster's head, but with two minutes left Arnold scored Oakwood's third.
Lowton St Mary's: Waterworth; Anderson, Arnold; S. Nelson , Broome, L. Nelson; Prescott, Rilkey, Fairhurst, Ingham, Greenough.
Oakwood Old Boys: Foster; Cleeton, Melbourne; Pilling, Dutton, Sudelkl, Don Robertson, Mills, Arnold, Dave Robertson,, Robinson .
At Stone Cross Lane, Lowton, in the third round round of the Starkey Cup, Harbens entered the semi-finals with a 5-2 win over Albion Rovers, from the Albion Works in Warrington.
Playing delightful football, Harbens went ahead through Shaw. Lowe put Thomason in for a second goal. A third Harbens' goal followed with a wonderful 45-yarder from full-back Farrell.
In the second half, Harbens maintained pressure and Smith beat three opponents in a splendid run to fire a hard and low shot that was helped into the net by Shaw. Albion were awarded a penalty, but goalkeeper Sands tipped over the bar.
The visitors did score, however, when Jarvis finished off a good move by Birchall and Potter. Armstrong got Harbens' fifth after a great run along the left flank and Potter scored Albion's second five minutes from the end.
Harbens: Sands; Blinston, Farrell; Simms, Watkins, O'Brien, Armstrong, Lowe, Thomason, Smith, Shaw.
Albion Rovers: Heyes; Hughes, Moss; Legh, Evans, Catterall; Birchall, Cossline, Jarvis, Potter, Jones.
Referee: Mr. Hulme (Leigh).
Harbens' hard working secretary Johnny Simpson has deservedly had the ground called after him. The club is now known as Golborne Sports in the Cheshire League. We had some hilarious moments together and not all the names he called me were on my birth certificate, but we got on well together and I can only thank him for the memories.
Soccer was revived in the pretty little village of Croft after a dormant 1952/53 season, through lack of a ground, with a trial match against Lowton St Mary's.
Neither club had their full teams out, but the match did give Croft people some idea of what they might expect from their side in the season ahead.
They had the services of several players from the Royal Air Force camp in Croft, including McGinn, the St Helens Town goalkeeper.
Lowton had the services of Boardman, the Golborne United centre-forward of the previous season.
Both forward lines were weak and only Boardman was worthy of mention. He scored the first goal for Lowton and Stevenson scored two more in the second half for a 3-1 victory.
Carter, of the RAF camp, netted for Croft. Stevenson had two more chances to score when he elected to try and dribble past McGinn only to find the experienced 'keeper with the ball tucked into his stomach.
Croft opened their season's programme in the second division of the Warrington League with a home fixture against Earlewstown Viaduct at Smithy Brow, losing 2-6.
Bad ground conditions made the ball too difficult to control and miss-kicks and bad passes were numerous. The visiting forwards were in grand form and if it had not been for Barnes in the Croft goal and the uprights which deceived them three times in the first half, they might have beaten Croft by a greater margin.
Towards the end of the game the wind dried the pitch up, but this did not help the home team for they went from bad to worse as the game progressed.
Ex-Lowton St Mary's star Cyril Ingham scored Croft's first goal of the season from a penalty 10 minutes after Sanders had given Earlestown the lead. Another penalty was awarded, this time to the visitors for a foul against one of their forwards, and Garner convertred.
Before the interval, Viaduct enhanced their position with two further goals by Sanders, completing his hat-trick.
Half-time: Croft 1, Earlestown Viaduct 4.
Croft started the second half in splendid fashion, but failed to maintain it throughout. They reduced the arrears to two with a goal by centre-forward Rigby. Sanders and Topping added further goals for a comfortable Viaduct victory.
Croft: Barnes; Mason, Snelson; Babbson, Lannon, Warburton; Dunnington, Taylor, Rigby, Carter, Ingham.
Earlestown Viaduct: Rafferty; Mayers, A. Fletcher; Lawton, Rogers, B. Fletcher; Skeech, Anderton, Sanders, Topping, Jack.
In a match that must rank as the most thrilling game at Sandy Lane that season, Lowton St Mary's and Oakwood Old Boys fought out a game that produced football of the highest calibre and which ended in a 5-3 victory for the home team.
It was a happy occasion for the home supporters who saw their side complete a league double over an outfit that at one time in the season seemed to be walking away with the championship.
Lowton became the first team to copmplete the double over the Old Boys that season and curiously enough, Oakwood were the only team to have completed a double over Lowton, knocking them out of both major cup competitions.
This was a game that produced thrills from the first to the last whistle. There was one change in the Lowton team from that which won at Padgate on March 28, Hewitt filling the centre-forward berth in place of Lythgoe.
In other matches that highlighted my reporting careeer that season, SS Mary & John beat Golborne United 5-1 at Borron Road, Newton-le-Willows, but the Saints went down 6-1 at Lowton, and Golborne United beat Garswood Rovers 3-2 in the first round of the Crompton's Medals at Ashton-in-Makerfield, where the works team had a superb "bowling green" turf and played in the Liverpool County Combination and the Lancashire Combination and promoted the Medals for local teams at the end of each season when the evenings were light, but darkness was falling when Lowe got the winner for Golborne, who had earlier netted through Casey and Johnson.
Lymm Grammar School Old Boys had a team in the Lancashire Amateur League and in one match I saw at their picturesque ground they lost 4-1 to Hindley Grammar School Old Boys. Lymm had an outstanding goalkeeper in Alan Pickering who gained league representative honours and later joined Stockton Heath in the Mid-Cheshire League.
Rylands Recs put paid to Golborne's hopes in the Depot Cup, beating them 3-2 in the third round, Cappers F.C. from Woolston firm W.H. Capper, lost 3-2 at Padgate Recreation Ground to Harbens in a Warrington League match that had a bearing on the third division title.
1953 was such an interesting year for local soccer that I have been rather long drawn out with my review, but I have now completed my reminiscences for that year and in my next article hope to start looking back on 1954.