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Spotter Freddie Worrall recruited some great talent - part 14
Portsmouth's FA Cup final victory this year recalled memories for Warrington old stagers of the previous time Pompey won the Cup in l939 when playing on the right wing for Portsmouth was none other than former Crosfields' player Freddie Worrall.
When he hung up his boots, Freddie was to become one of the greatest "spotters" of football talents the town and district has ever known, notably for gathering together a collection of footballers second to none in amateur football,as it then was, to form teams that represented Stockton Heath, the club he had been hand-picked to coach in thier opening seasons in the Mid-Cheshire League.
And what players he brought into the fold! There was the greatest half-back line of all time at this level - Don Banner, Jackie Boardman and Wilf Martin (captain), the brilliant brothers George and Jim Hayes, magnificent winger Harry Bennett and other forwards Les Arnold, Bobby Rothwell, and Alan Foster, who was so keen to be considered for the England Amateur team that he joined Crook Town, in the Northern League, where players were under the spotlight more than they were in the Mid-Cheshire League. Even when Alan joined Crewe Alexandra he insisted on remaining amateur.
But all the time behind this array of players that Freddie was collecting most soccer followers in Warrington and district knew there was a brilliant youngster lurking in 17-year-old Roger Hunt.
He had been on trial with Bury and it was a rather dejected Roger I met while we were watching an evening match at Stockton Lane.
Said Rog: "I have been on trial at Bury, but they said I was too small. So I have come down here to see if I can get a game."
Get a game? You must be joking! Freddie took one look at Hunt and he was in the team.
He never looked back from then and the rest is history, as they say.
Rog brought his friend Johnny Green, then of Croft and now of Lowton, who went on to join Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool when the latter were in the top flight.
When John partnered Eire international Tommy Eglington at Tranmere and Tommy was reported as saying: "I wish I had had John playing with me at Everton."
That was a tribute, indeed, from a man who scored a brilliant winning goal for Eire against England at Goodison Park in the l940s by tapping the ball over the goalkeeper's head.
Freddie went on to lead Heath to two Mid-Cheshire League Cup triumphs in l953/54 and l954/55, also winning the Altrincham Amateur Cup in the latter season.
In the Warrington and District League, in the meantime, Lowton St Mary's had been on decline, the loss of Jimmy Prescott and other players being a big factor, their minds now being more on relegation than bagging silverware. They made a bold bid to avoid relegation when they beat Stockton Heath Reserves 6-4.
Another district league side, Daten, from Culcheth, had entered a number of medal competitions. They had been drawn against Lowton St Mary's in the first round of the Lancashire Steel (Irlam) Knockout and Eagle Sports A in the first round of the Lancashire Steel (Warrington) Works Competition.
During 1954 I left full-time work with the Leigh Guardian, but continued freelancing for the Warrington Examiner while working full-time as a clerk with Rylands Brothers, the Warrington wire firm.
Manager of the netting department, where I worked, was Norman Bellion. He was a keen Manchester United supporter. To him a chap like me who supported Everton was a joke.
"Why don't you go and watch a proper team like Manchester United?" he asked one day as he popped his head through a wall hatch linking his room with the one I shared.
So, when Everton were not at home, I satisfied him by going to watch Manchester United. Make no doubt about it they were a brilliant team, a reputation they maintained almost relentlessly.
They were a treat to watch with players like Bobby Charlton, David Pegg, Duncan Edwards, Billy Foulkes and Tommy Taylor, the centre forward they got from Barnsley, quickly springing to mind.
The way I used to get to Old Trafford to watch United would be classed as comical today.
I always worked on a Saturday morning at Rylands. I used to leave work at noon and cycle home for 12.15 pm lunch which my dear mother always had on the table waiting for me. I would be out again before 1pm to cycle from my Woolston home about a mile to the Manchester Ship Canal ferry.
I would ring a bell to summon the ferry man across in his little wooden rowing boat and if no big ships were coming there were no problems. The ferry man would take my penny fare and get me to the other side of the canal in the "city" of Thelwall.
Thelwall is only a village in reality, but it received a charter in ages past which gave the right to title of "city."
A short ride through the "city" street - or lane to be more precise - and I would arrive at Thelwall Railway Station.
There, I would buy a return ticket for 1s.3d. which took me to Old Trafford Railway Station right behind the football ground.
Alas, the line, which ran from Bank Quay through Arpley and behind Wilderspool Stadium and through Latchford Railway Station befoe reaching Thelwall, is no more.
Neither is Thelwall station, the place becoming a "city" without a railway station.
But it was an ejoyable time watching that Manchester United team; little to be known that four years later, many of those brilliant "Busby Babes" I had watched would lose their lives as a result of being in the terrible Munich Disaster, the 50th anniversary of which we sadly commemorated in February this year.