A gathering of retired non-league footballers from the era around l954 who meet for lunch at the Kirkfield Hotel, Newton-, on the second Thursday of each month between noon and 2pm and style themselves as the Old Codgers were sorry to hear of the death of the wife of former Rylands Recs goalkeeper Peter Farrell.

Peter, who also played for the successful Newton team in the Warrington League, usually attends the functions.

He obviously did not attend this one, but a sympathy card was quickly organised at the nearby post office and was signed by everyone present, including myself.

It was a pleasure to meet players I reported on for the Press when we were all in our youth such as Bob Selby and Norman Turner, of Makerfield Mill (now Ashton Town); former England Schoolboys, Everton, Preston North End, Wigan Athletic and Earlestown star Ken Heyes, of Haydock; Eric Bond, of Earlestown and Haydock C & B;, Derek Maloney and John Atherton, of St Helens Town; Mal Dean (Newton and T & T Vicars) and Fred Eyre, formerly of Manchester City and St Helens Town, who has written books on his football career.

Anyone with a local Non-League or League pedigree is invited to attend the functions, which only recently moved to the Kirkfield after the closure of their previous venue, Ashton Nu Pro.

A colleague of Heyes in the Newton Boys' representative team was the late Tommy Taylor, who went on to become a Stockton Heath player and trainer in the Mid-Cheshire League after being invited for a trial at Bolton Wanderers, who had spotted him on the left wing for Glazebury Church, who later became a force in the Warrington League after hiughly successful results in the Leigh and District Sunday Schools League and the Leigh and District Central League, for reserve sides.

Other stars of the Glazebury side of this period were goalkeeper Cyril Morris, who had been brilliant at Culcheth Secondary School, also attended by Taylor, and Harold Maggs.

Many local clubs benefited from the soccer talent churned out from Culcheth Secondary School, natural talent being encouraged by sports masters Kirkpatrick and Toomes, and one of those clubs was Croft, who acquired centre-half Keith Ogden, one of four footballing brothers at the school. Others were Brian, Kevin and Trevor, the latter playing for Vulcan at Newton, and having several first-team games for Manchester City in the l970s.

The area, as always, was oozing with talent and it was a pleasure to record in my writings in the Leigh Guardian that Jimmy Prescott, the inside forward who had been part of the great Lowton St Mary's side mentioned in previous articles, had made a notable Third Division North debut for Southport at Chester. Prescott was always to the fore in attack. His previous engagement with the first team was against Tranmere Rovers in a cup tie the previous season.

Southport discovered Jimmy while he was playing for Lowton St Mary's in the Atherton Charity Cup the season before that.

During his playing days with Lowton, he helped them win the Atherton Charity Cup, Warrington Guardian Cup, Warrington League Championship, Westhoughton Cup and Westhoughton League Championship.

Knockout competitions have always attracted considerable interest, particularly the Guardian Cup with normally a huge crowd at the final. The Atherton Charity Cup was also popular in the area embracing Lowton, Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley and Westhoughton with the final, usually at Alder House, home of Atherton Collieries, drawing a sizeable attendance.

In l954, Lowton St Mary's won the Dickenson Cup, sponsored by Earlestown FC Supporters' Club, but not until after a hard-fought battle with the gallant Earlestown Viaduct, from the former Earlestown Carriage and Wagon Works.

Lowton won by the only goal, scored by Barker in a second half scramble, during which the Viaduct goalkeeper suffered a leg injury.

Earlestown went close on many occasions, but good goalkeeping by Cliff Waterworth repelled them.

Lowton St Mary's: Waterworth, Anderson, Arnold, Prytherch, Broome, Greenough (capt), S. Nelson, Barker, Hewitt, Stevenson, L. Nelson.

Another successful local club that year were Croft, who won the Warrington League's Starkey Cup, beating Irlam and Cadishead 3-2 in the final.

Neighbours Golborne United, however, made a third round exit from the Guardian Cup, beaten 2-0 at home by Statham.

It was a time when Golborne complained of attempted poaching of players, alleging that Earlestown approached goalkeeper Bill Norcross without seven days notice. But Norcross continued with Golborne to assist them in the cup tie. Another Golborne player, young half-back Maloney, who was on Wigan Athletic's books as an amateur at the time, was allegedly approached by Stoke City to attend trials without Wigan Athletic's permission. Maloney had been for one trial and had been requested to attend another the following week.

There was considerable interest in the Warrington area in Wigan Athletic as they unsuccessfully campaigned season after season in this era to be elected to the Football League, and at a well-attended meeting in the Victoria Hotel, Golborne, a Golborne branch of the Wigan Athletic Supporters' Club was formed.

The committee and officials were chosen and included five well-known businessmen. The club felt confident that they could help the parent club in a big way. The room was fitted with loud speakers to enable everyone in the hotel to hear the meeting.

Jim Glover was in the chair. L. Roper was appointed secretary and Herbert Pownall treasurer. Committee: Messrs H. Pimblett, H. Roper, Spiby, Langton, H. Cartridge, N. Lyon, W. Knowles and F. Thompson.

The chairman and five members of the Wigan Athletic Supporters' Club were present and were introduced by Mr Granvell-Ball.

The chairman told the audience that he expected them to help the parent club in every possible way so that they may gain Third Division North status. An English League club was what Wigan needed, he said.

Interest in the club was at fever pitch as it was near the end of the year when the club were battling their way through to a third round FA Cup replay with eventual winners Newcastle United in January of the following year.

However, it was not all plain sailing for Latics. Competition in the old Lancashire Combination, of which Latics were members, was keen and one club that felt pre-match they could put an end to Latics' sequence of l3 away games without defeat were Prescot Cables, who had a talented team from Frank Garton in goal right through to the forward line. And in front of a 3,500 Hope Street crowd, their confidence was justified and after l5 minutes Prescot waltzed into a 4-0 lead with goals from Ray Price, Frank Stapleton 2 and Frank Middleham.

Wigan fought back gallantly, but the Prescot defence had the edge on the visiting forwards, who missed centre forward Bill Lomax with two broken toes from a works accident and were never up to the standard of the home five.

The day's scoring was completed before the interval when Livesey pulled one back for Wigan, who had two "goals" for offside on what was clearly not their day.

But there was plenty of glory in other ways that season, as I will elaborate on in the next article because of the considerable interest by fans in the Warrington area, who would now have to be over the age of 50 at least to remember the fight Latics had before they eventually replaced Southport in the l970s. Young fans of today would find it unbelievable as Wigan now take a proud place in the Premiership.