Tag Archives: Parents

Scrap Book Project – Ivan Petcher

March 27th is a very special day to me because in 1932 that was the day that my dad, Ivan Petcher was born.  He was the sort of man that you hope to be like when you grow up and then wish you had been like when you are old.

I don’t know anything about his childhood of course and there is no one to give me any clues so my story fast-forwards to 1947 and the year he met my mum.

From the way dad used to talk about being a teenager I have always imagined the post war years to be an almost idyllic existence, Enid Blyton sort of days with long hot summers, blue skies, bike rides, ripping-yarn adventures and picnics, where young people were polite and had good manners and didn’t spend their evenings hanging around Tesco Express with a bottle of cider, frightening the old folk and no one had heard of the concept of anti-social behaviour.

These were surely days of optimism with a country led by a Labour Government that had been elected in the summer of 1945 with a landslide majority and a promise to make everything better and which had embarked on a radical programme of nationalisation including coal mining, electricity supply and railways.

These were the days of the new National Health Service and the Welfare State all based on the optimistic principles of socialism.  And to add to all this good news the United States announced the Marshall Plan to pay for the reconstruction of Europe and that meant over three billion dollars was on the way to the United Kingdom to rebuild its bombed-out cities and its shattered economy.

This was the year of the inauguration of the United Nations which meant peace for ever more and the year that Princess Elizabeth married Prince Mountbatten.

Life was not so idyllic however in the big cities just after the war so I suppose it was nice to have a holiday and that summer mum left London for a few days with a friend in Rushden in Northamptonshire and at some point during that week she met my dad.  He was sixteen but looked younger, he hadn’t finished growing so was still quite small, his nickname was Pid as in little piddy widdy, and he he had boyish face and an impish grin with piercing cobalt blue eyes and a distinctive hairstyle with a fringe that flopped over his forehead in a Hugh Grant sort of way.

He obviously made an immediate impact on the young girl visiting from London and they spent the next sixty years together.

Not straight away of course because his new girlfriend had to go back to London to finish school and here is something else that I find absolutely charming.  These were days before mobile phones, skype and instant messaging, even before regular telephones so the only way they had of keeping in touch and keeping the romance going was by sending each other letters and photographs.

They kept this up for three years before dad was called up for national service in the RAF and he moved to London where he stayed until they married in 1953.

In 1948 dad left school and went to work for his father in the family business, a grocery store in Rushden, but they sold that sometime at the end of the decade and they all moved to Leicester and dad got his first proper job at Jessops.  I don’t know how much he earned, it couldn’t have been a lot, but from photographs it would seem that he spent quite a lot of it on clothes and he was always a smart, well turned out young man with an impressive wardrobe.

The picture above was taken in 1947 and his clothes look a bit shabby and worn through and they are in total contrast to the one below taken two years later on holiday in Skegness.  It’s a bit of a surprise to me because I don’t remember him being particularly interested in clothes and he would make most things last much longer than they could be reasonably expected to but for a couple of years in the late 1940s he obviously cared a lot about his appearance.  Or perhaps, judging by how much he had grown in two years, replacement clothes were a regular necessity during that time.

I like this picture, dad was eighteen and looks smart, self assured and full of confidence, mum was sixteen and looks really happy to be with this really special man.

 

Scrap Book Project – Job Referencies and Employment Records

When I took possession of the Scrap Book I was intrigued to find details of a life that I had never known or appreciated. This really shouldn’t have come as a great surprise because there are many dimensions to a life but the only one that I was fully familiar with was in his role as my father. In what many would describe as an ordinary life this was a task that he excelled at I have to say!

But beyond the responsibility of being a parent I wonder what else he was like. I have been looking at his old employment records and these have revealed some interesting and important clues.

He was educated at Wellingborough Grammar School in Northamptonshire (Sir David Frost is a famous old boy) during the years of the Second World War and I can only imagine that this must have been a huge distraction for the country with a corresponding lack of attention paid to educational standards. This must have been good fun if you were a pupil then but it didn’t lead to a fistful of GCSEs to help you set out in life.

The school in line with the custom of the time, was selective, which meant that an entrance examination had to be passed to get a place. Until 1945 the school charged fees for attendance but following R. A. Butler’s great Education Act of 1944, all places became free of charge. The eleven plus exam and secondary education obligations were also introduced in the Education Act.

According to school records, in summer 1947 Dad was in the fifth form remove (the school tried at this time to push the brightest boys for School Certificate in four years, Dad was clearly not in the bright boys form and took the usual five years). This extra time didn’t help a great deal because in summer 1948 he was in 5B (unexamined fifth form class) and sadly he didn’t manage to get the School Certificate. The School Certificate was not like GCSE but was a group certificate and you had to do well in five subjects, miss on one and tough, you got nothing, this is what must have happened to Dad because no school certificate is mentioned when he left in the Autumn of that year. The following term, he left to join his father’s business, a grocery store at 110 Higham Road, Rushden.

After Wellingborough Grammar School his own CV tells us that he did more studying at the South East London College of Commerce and the Leicester College of Art and Technology. None of these educational establishments exist any longer and although there is an interesting old boys web site for the Wellingborough Grammar School I can find nothing about the other two.

His first real job was as a Film Librarian working at Jessops in Leicester and then in June 1950 when he was eighteen years old he started his National Service in the Royal Air Force at the Air Ministry in London.

This sounds awfully exciting but I suspect that it probably wasn’t. From 1949, every healthy man between the ages of 18 and 26 was expected to serve in the armed forces for a minimum period of eighteen months. Men were exempt from National Service if they worked in three ‘essential services’, which were coal mining, farming and the merchant navy, so not film librarians then! I’d like to tell you that he was a fighter pilot or a commando or something thrilling but the plain fact is that he worked at the Air Ministry in London in the office as a clerk/typist whose job was ‘the compilation and maintenance of officers’ and airmens’ records and documents’. I can only imagine that this was exceedingly dull but it prepared him for life in the public service as a local government officer.

He must have enjoyed it however because he completed over two years and his discharge paper of 13th July 1952 says that his conduct was exceptional and his ability was very good, he was described as ‘smart’ on a scale of ‘very smart’, ‘smart’ or ‘untidy’ and he was summed up as ‘a very reliable and efficient clerk who has done good work and helped in the tuition of others’. I can understand that because he was always the most helpful person with lots of patience when dealing with other people – sadly I didn’t inherit that characteristic.

The records now reveal that he was doing a bit of moonlighting because if he was discharged on 13th July 1952 it is interesting that he started work with Lewisham Borough Council in South London two weeks earlier on 1st July 1952 as a general clerk. I think Mum’s Aunty Glad got him the job because she worked in the staff canteen and was good terms with some of the senior staff (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and she put a good word in for him! He stayed there for six months and when he left the Town Clerk, Alan Milner Smith, wrote of him “I found him to be an intelligent boy…and a thoroughly satisfactory officer”, I wonder how well he knew Aunty Glad.

He left Lewisham and a week before his twenty first birthday and took up a new appointment at Leicestershire County Council as a general clerk in the Common Services Section of the Education Department where he stayed until May 1957.

In that time he got married, I was born, and he bought his first two houses. I think he must have been a sociable chap because he was enthusiastic in running the County Offices football and cricket teams and he kept meticulous records of games and performances from 1953 until 1956. From my own experience I know that he was a well liked man and the Supplies Officer F E Collis wrote in a reference in March 1957 “ he is very popular with the staff and an enthusiastic member of the office football team” he also said, in an old fashioned sort of way, “I have found Mr Petcher’s work perfectly satisfactory and he brings to it an enthusiasm which is all too often lacking in junior officers today”. I imagine F E Collis was about a hundred years old and remembered what administration was like in the days of Baden-Powell and the Raj!

In May 1957 he left Leicestershire County Council and took a job at Hinckley Urban District Council as a Land Charges and General Clerk. He bought his third house, Lindsay, my sister, was born in October and he cycled to work and back every day, a distance of about ten miles, later he got a moped but I seem to recall that it wasn’t especially reliable and sometimes he had to push it all the way home so he went back to the push bike.

This wasn’t sustainable of course so in 1959 they sold up and we sensibly moved to Hinckley to be close to his work. That didn’t last long either and he left Hinckley on 31st December 1960 and moved to Rugby Rural District Council and that’s how we came to move to Hillmorton.

I especially like his reference from F J Warren the Deputy Clerk of the Council who described my dad as “a useful, promising and reliable member of staff… I cannot speak too highly of his integrity and desire to give satisfaction” and he added in a quaint sort of way that you would never find today “he is of pleasing appearance and courteous to all with whom he comes in contact”.

That’s how I remember him too!

27th March, Ivan Petcher

March 27th is a very special day to me because in 1932 that was the day that my dad, Ivan Petcher was born.  I don’t know anything about his childhood of course and there is no one to give me any clues so my story fast-forwards to 1947 and the year he met my mum.

From the way dad used to talk about being a teenager I have always imagined the post war years to be an almost idyllic existence, Enid Blyton sort of days with long hot summers, blue skies, bike rides, ripping-yarn adventures and picnics, where young people were polite and had good manners and didn’t spend their evenings hanging around Tesco Express with a bottle of cider, frightening the old folk and no one had heard of the concept of anti-social behaviour.

These were surely days of optimism with a country led by a Labour Government that had been elected in the summer of 1945 with a landslide majority and a promise to make everything better and which had embarked on a radical programme of nationalisation including coalmining, electricity supply and railways.  These were the days of the new National Health Service and the Welfare State all based on the optimistic principles of socialism.  And to add to all this good news the United States announced the Marshall Plan to pay for the reconstruction of Europe and that meant over three billion dollars was on the way to the United Kingdom to rebuild its bombed-out cities and its shattered economy.  This was the year of the inauguration of the United Nations which meant peace for ever more and the year that Princess Elizabeth married Prince Mountbatten.

Life was not so idyllic however in the big cities just after the war so I suppose it was nice to have a holiday and that summer mum left London for a few days with a friend in Rushden in Northamptonshire and at some point during that week she met my dad.  He was sixteen but looked younger, he hadn’t finished growing so was still quite small, his nickname was Pid as in little piddy widdy, and he he had boyish face and an impish grin with piercing cobalt blue eyes and a distinctive hairstyle with a fringe that flopped over his forehead in a Hugh Grant sort of way.  He obviously made an immediate impact on the young girl visiting from London and they spent the rest of their lives together.

Not straight away of course because his new girlfriend had to go back to London to finish school and here is something else that I find absolutely charming.  These were days before mobile phones, skype and instant messenging, even before regular telephones so the only way they had of keeping in touch and keeping the romance going was by sending each other letters and photographs.  They kept this up for three years before dad was called up for national service in the RAF and he moved to London where he stayed until they married in 1953.

In 1948 dad left school and went to work for his father in the family business, a grocery store in Rushden, but they sold that sometime at the end of the decade and they all moved to Leicester and dad got his first proper job at Jessops.  I don’t know how much he earned, it couldn’t have been a lot, but from photographs it would seem that he spent quite a lot of it on clothes and he was always a smart, well turned out young man with an impressive wardrobe.

The picture above was taken in 1947 and his clothes look a bit shabby and worn through and they are in total contrast to the one below taken two years later on holiday in Skegness.  It’s a bit of a surprise to me because I don’t remember him being particularly interested in clothes and he would make most things last much longer than they could be reasonably expected to but for a couple of years in the late 1940s he obviously cared a lot about his clothes and his appearance.  Or perhaps, judging by how much he had grown in two years, replacement clothes were a regular necessity during that time.

I like this picture, dad was eighteen and looks smart, self assured and full of confidence, mum was sixteen and looks really happy to be with this really special man.

Ivan died in October 2003.

Ivan Petcher March 1932 – October 2003

When I took possession of some personal possessions of my Dad I was intrigued to find details of a life that I had never known or appreciated. This really shouldn’t have come as a great surprise because there are many dimensions to a life but the only one that I was fully familiar with was in his role as my father. In what many would describe as an ordinary life this was a task that he excelled at I have to say!

But beyond the responsibility of being a parent I wonder what else he was like. I have been looking at his old employment records and these have revealed some interesting and important clues.

He was educated at Wellingborough Grammar School in Northamptonshire (Sir David Frost is a famous old boy) during the years of the Second World War and I can only imagine that this must have been a huge distraction for the country with a corresponding lack of attention paid to educational standards. This must have been good fun if you were a pupil then but it didn’t lead to a fistful of GCSEs to help you set out in life. The school in line with the custom of the time, was selective, which meant that an entrance examination had to be passed to get a place. Until 1945 the school charged fees for attendance but following R. A. Butler’s great Education Act of 1944, all places became free of charge. The eleven plus exam and secondary education obligations were also introduced in the Education Act.

According to school records, in summer 1947 Dad was in the fifth form remove (the school tried at this time to push the brightest boys for School Certificate in four years, Dad was clearly not in the bright boys form and took the usual five years). This extra time didn’t help a great deal because in summer 1948 he was in 5B (unexamined fifth form class) and sadly he didn’t manage to get the School Certificate. The School Certificate was not like GCSE but was a group certificate and you had to do well in five subjects, miss on one and tough, you got nothing, this is what must have happened to Dad because no school certificate is mentioned when he left in the Autumn of that year. The following term, he left to join his father’s business, a grocery store at 110 Higham Road, Rushden.

After Wellingborough Grammar School his own CV tells us that he did more studying at the South East London College of Commerce and the Leicester College of Art and Technology. None of these educational establishments exist any longer and although there is an interesting old boys web site for the Wellingborough Grammar School I can find nothing about the other two.

His first real job was as a Film Librarian working at Jessops in Leicester and then in June 1950 when he was eighteen years old he started his National Service in the Royal Air Force at the Air Ministry in London.  This sounds awfully exciting but I suspect that it probably wasn’t. From 1949, every healthy man between the ages of 18 and 26 was expected to serve in the armed forces for a minimum period of eighteen months. Men were exempt from National Service if they worked in three ‘essential services’, which were coal mining, farming and the merchant navy, so not film librarians then! I’d like to tell you that he was a fighter pilot or a commando or something thrilling but the plain fact is that he worked at the Air Ministry in London in the office as a clerk/typist whose job was ‘the compilation and maintenance of officers’ and airmens’ records and documents’. I can only imagine that this was exceedingly dull but it prepared him for life in the public service as a local government officer.

He must have enjoyed it however because he completed over two years and his discharge paper of 13th July 1952 says that his conduct was exceptional and his ability was very good, he was described as ‘smart’ on a scale of ‘very smart’, ‘smart’ or ‘untidy’ and he was summed up as ‘a very reliable and efficient clerk who has done good work and helped in the tuition of others’. I can understand that because he was always the most helpful person with lots of patience when dealing with other people, sadly I didn’t inherit that characteristic.

The records now reveal that he was doing a bit of moonlighting because if he was discharged on 13th July 1952 it is interesting that he started work with Lewisham Borough Council in South London two weeks earlier on 1st July 1952 as a general clerk. I think Mum’s Aunty Glad got him the job because she worked in the staff canteen and was good terms with some of the senior staff (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and she put a good word in for him! He stayed there for six months and when he left the Town Clerk, Alan Milner Smith, wrote of him “I found him to be an intelligent boy…and a thoroughly satisfactory officer”, I wonder how well he knew Aunty Glad.

He left Lewisham and a week before his twenty first birthday and took up a new appointment at Leicestershire County Council as a general clerk in the Common Services Section of the Education Department where he stayed until May 1957. In that time he got married, I was born, and he bought his first two houses. I think he must have been a sociable chap because he was enthusiastic in running the County Offices football and cricket teams and he kept meticulous records of games and performances from 1953 until 1956. From my own experience I know that he was a well liked man and the Supplies Officer F E Collis wrote in a reference in March 1957 “ he is very popular with the staff and an enthusiastic member of the office football team” he also said, in an old fashioned sort of way, “I have found Mr Petcher’s work perfectly satisfactory and he brings to it an enthusiasm which is all too often lacking in junior officers today”. I imagine F E Collis was about a hundred years old and remembered what administration was like in the days of Dickens and the Raj!

In May 1957 he left Leicestershire County Council and took a job at Hinckley Urban District Council as a Land Charges and General Clerk. He bought his third house, Lindsay, my sister, was born in October and he cycled to work and back every day, a distance of about ten miles, later he got a moped but I seem to recall that it wasn’t especially reliable and sometimes he had to push it all the way home so he went back to the push bike. This wasn’t sustainable of course so in 1959 they sold up and we sensibly moved to Hinckley to be close to his work. That didn’t last long either and he left Hinckley on 31st December 1960 and moved to Rugby Rural District Council and that’s how we came to move to Hillmorton. I especially like his reference from F J Warren the Deputy Clerk of the Council who described my dad as “a useful, promising and reliable member of staff… I cannot speak too highly of his integrity and desire to give satisfaction” and he added in a quaint sort of way that you would never find today “he is of pleasing appearance and courteous to all with whom he comes in contact”.

That’s how I remember him too!

A Life in a Year – 27th March, Ivan Petcher

 

March 27th is a very special day to me because in 1932 that was the day that my dad, Ivan Petcher was born.  I don’t know anything about his childhood of course and there is no one to give me any clues so my story fast-forwards to 1947 and the year he met my mum.

From the way dad used to talk about being a teenager I have always imagined the post war years to be an almost idyllic existence, Enid Blyton sort of days with long hot summers, blue skies, bike rides and picnics, where young people were polite and had good manners and didn’t spend their evenings hanging around Tesco Express with a bottle of cider, frightening the old folk and no one had heard of anti-social behaviour.

These were surely days of optimism with a country led by a Labour Government that had been elected in the summer of 1945 with a landslide majority and a promise to make everything better and which had embarked on a radical programme of nationalisation including coalmining, electricity supply and railways.  These were the days of the new National Health Service and the Welfare State all based on the optimistic principles of socialism.  And to add to all this good news the United States announced the Marshall Plan to pay for the reconstruction of Europe and that meant over three billion dollars was on the way to the United Kingdom to rebuild its cities and its economy.  This was the year of the inauguration of the United Nations which meant peace for ever more and the year that Princess Elizabeth married Prince Mountbatten.

Life was not so idyllic in the big cities just after the war so I suppose it was nice to have a holiday and that summer mum left London for a few days with a friend in Rushden in Northamptonshire and at some point during that week she met my dad.  He was sixteen but looked younger, he hadn’t finished growing so was still quite small, his nickname was Pid as in little piddy widdy, and he he had boyish face and an impish grin with piercing cobalt blue eyes and a distinctive hairstyle with a fringe that flopped over his forehead in a Hugh Grant sort of way.  He obviously made an immediate impact on the young girl visiting from London and they spent the rest of their lives together.

 

Not straight away of course because mum had to go back to London to finish school and here is something else that I find absolutely charming.  These were days before mobile phones and instant messenging, even before regular telephones so the only way they had of keeping in touch and keeping the romance going was by sending each other letters and photographs.  They kept this up for three years before dad was called up for national service in the RAF and he moved to London where he stayed until they married in 1953.

In 1948 dad left school and went to work for his father in the family business, a grocery store in Rushden, but they sold that sometime at the end of the decade and they all moved to Leicester and dad got his first proper job at Jessops.  I don’t know how much he earned, it couldn’t have been a lot, but from photoraphs it would seem that he spent quite a lot of it on clothes and he was always a smart, well turned out young man with an impressive wardrobe.

The picture above was taken in 1947 and his clothes look a bit shabby and worn through and they are in total contrast to the one below taken two years later on holiday in Skegness.  It’s a bit of a surprise because I don’t remember him being particularly interested in clothes and he would make most things last much longer than they could be reasonably expected to but for a couple of years in the late 1940s he obviously cared about his clothes and his appearance.  Or perhaps, judging by how much he had grown in two years, replacement clothes were a regular necessity during that time.

I like this picture, dad was eighteen and looks smart, self assured and full of confidence, mum was sixteen and looks really happy to be with this really special man.

Interesting footnote:

Tiddy Widdy Well Shiraz-Cabernet Savignon-Merlot is a Red wine from Hillsview Vineyard in Langhorne Creek, Australia. Tiddy Widdy Well Shiraz-Cabernet Savignon-Merlot is a Fruity & Medium Bodied Red Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot wine.

1957 – a Sister, Spaghetti, Scouting, Sputnik and Stanley Matthews

In 1957 there was big news on the home front when my sister Lindsay was born but around the world following the excitement of wars and revolutions in 1956 this particular year seems to have been less frenetic.

The Treaty of Rome established the Common Market, which was a deeply significant event that has shaped the recent history of modern Europe.  This has become the European Union and has undergone a number of expansions that has taken it from six member states in 1957 to twenty-seven today, a majority of states in Europe.  Britain joined in 1973 after a long period of being denied membership by France and in particular the deeply ungrateful and Anglophobe President de Gaulle.

Harold MacMillan became the new Prime Minister of Britain when Anthony Eden resigned over the Suez crisis debacle and this ushered in the baby boomer years of the late 50’s and 60’s when life generally improved for everyone.  He led the Conservatives to victory in the 1959 general election using the campaign slogan “Life’s Better Under the Conservatives” and MacMillan himself is remembered for his famous personal assessment of these years when he said, “indeed let us be frank about it – most of our people have never had it so good.”

Most people were beginning to get television sets in the home and on 1st April the BBC broadcast one of its most famous ever programmes; a spoof documentary about spaghetti crops in Switzerland. The Panorama programme, narrated by Richard Dimbleby, featured a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest. It showed women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry.  Some viewers, presumably those who were daft enough to believe it, failed to see the funny side of the broadcast and criticised the BBC for airing the item on what was supposed to be a serious factual programme.

The home dining experience was much more limited in the 1950s and spaghetti you see was not a widely-eaten food at the time and this explains how the broadcast managed to fool so many viewers.  In the programme Dimbleby explained how each year the end of March is a very anxious time for Spaghetti harvesters all over Europe because of the risk of late frosts and he also explained how each strand of spaghetti always grows to the same length thanks to years of hard work by generations of growers.  An estimated eight million people watched the programme and hundreds phoned in the following day to ask for more information about spaghetti cultivation and how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. The BBC kept the joke going by advising callers to place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.

1957 was the fiftieth anniversary of the Boy Scouts which began in 1907 when Robert Baden-Powell, a Lieutenant General in the British Army, who had served in  India and Africa in the 1880s and 1890s held the first Scout camp at Brownsea Island in Dorset.   Since his boyhood, he was fond of woodcraft and military scouting, and therefore, as part of soldiers training he showed his men how to survive in the wilderness.  He noticed it taught them to develop independence, rather than just blindly follow orders and so towards the end of his military career he wrote a book called ‘Scouting for Boys’ in which he set out the basic the principles of Scouting which were based on his earlier military experiences, and in so doing started the World wide Scouting movement.

I joined the Wolf Cubs when I was seven years old and after I had passed all the tests and received my Leaping Wolf Certificate moved up to the Scouts when I was eleven.  At first I was in the Paddox Troop but later transferred to the Hillmorton, which was good for me because dad was the Scoutmaster, which gave me a bit of an advantage when it came to passing tests and getting badges.  I liked the Scouts and the quasi-military organisation that came with it with the uniforms and the kit inspections, the law book and solemn promise and the fact that I could legitimately carry a hunting knife on my belt without being challenged.  It was a bit like the Hitler Youth Movement but without the nastiness!   Boys stayed in the Scouts until they were sixteen but I never saw it through to the end; dad fell out with the Group Scout Master, Harry Newman in 1969, walked out and never waggled his woggle again and that November I discovered girls and that hanky-panky was much more fun than gin-gan-gooly and that was goodbye to the Scouts, which was a shame because I was only a couple of tests away from my First Class Scouts badge at the time.

Age of innocence – Boy Scouts

Robert Baden Powell and Scouting

In a serious note there was a major train crash disaster in 1957 when two trains collided in fog which killed ninety-two people and injured another one hundred and seventy-three.  I mention this because the accident was in Lewisham in south-east London and only a couple of miles or so from the town of Catford where my grandparents lived and who we used to visit regularly.  I can remember the railway line that you could see from the bottom of the garden and I find it surprising that I was until now unaware of this fact.

In sport Stanley Matthews played his last game for England at the almost unbelievable age of forty-four.  He has the record for the longest serving England career at twenty-three years and remains the oldest man to ever play for England.  Let’s face it; it is completely unlikely that this record will ever be beaten.  He didn’t retire from football altogether at this time though and he continued playing at the very highest level in the English First Division with Stoke City until he was fifty years old when he finally retired in 1964.

To find a player in the mould of Sir Stanley is almost impossible nowadays. With all the press and media hype that surrounds today’s celebrity players such as David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, Matthews was the first real football celebrity. Unlike any other players, he was able to maintain his professionalism at all times and lived only to play the game. Matthews at the time was only earning £20 per week in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of pounds nowadays.

I can actually remember seeing Stanley Matthews myself because from about seven years old dad started to take me to Filbert Street to watch Leicester City.  I can recall quite clearly going to the matches because this always involved a long walk of about three miles there and three miles back.  Very close to my grandparents house there was a bus stop with a direct service into the city but dad rather cunningly always started out for the match at a time certain not to coincide with the bus timetable.  I never caught on to this little trick of course and dad had a very brisk walking pace that required me to run along side him just to keep up as he strode out ahead.   Dad just didn’t like paying bus fares.

Football grounds were totally different to the all seater stadiums that we are used to now and were predominantly standing affairs.  I was only a little lad so it was important to go early to get a good spot on the wall just behind the goal.  This required an early arrival and although matches didn’t start until three o’clock dad used to get us there for the opening of the gates at about one.  This must have required great patience on his part because two hours is a long time to wait for a football match to start standing on cold concrete terracing and I really didn’t appreciate at the time that all of this was done just for me.  In the 1960s of course it was common to have pre-match entertainment when local marching bands would give a thirty minute medley of tunes up until kick off time so at least there was something to watch.

Footballers like Matthews were completely different from the prima donners of the modern game; they got stuck in and played like men with a big heavy leather football, shirts that became waterlogged and uncomfortable in the rain and the mud and boots that would have been more appropriate for wearing down a coal mine.  What’s more it wasn’t unusual to watch the same eleven men play week after week because they just shrugged off the knocks that put modern players out for weeks.  An injury had to be almost life threatening to stop somebody playing in those days.  And if you don’t believe me, the 1956 FA Cup final, in which Manchester City beat Birmingham City 3-1, is famously remembered for Manchester goalkeeper Bert Trautmann continuing to play on for the final fifteen minutes of the match after unknowingly breaking his neck!

Off the ground there were two important airborne events in 1957 that were important for the future.  There was the first flight of the Boeing 707 which was to become important in increasing travel opportunities and in the USSR the sputnik programme began with the launch of Sputnik1, which was an event that triggered the space race between the two world superpowers the US and the USSR both bursting with testosterone and competing with each other to rule the modern world.

Ivan Petcher – Sports Reports

I have been looking through the old school magazines from Wellingborough Grammar School to see if I could find any reference to dad in the sporting sections because he was a keen sportsman and a follower of all types of sport.  I was slightly surprised to find no reference to him at all because I know that he was an especially keen cricketer and a cross-country runner.  His favourite sport was football but Wellingborough being a grammar school didn’t encourage soccer and concentrated instead on rugby or rugger as they preferred to call it.  I can’t imagine that he would have liked rugby because he was small and lightweight and not built for the game at all.  I can sympathise with that because I had to endure the same fate, going to school as I did in Rugby, and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

I know that he was playing football because for the season 1948-49 he was keeping a journal of the matches of his team the Higham Swifts for whom he was a regular, playing on either the left or right wing.  The records show that he was on the selection committee so I suppose he had some sort of choice about his position.  In this journal he wrote match reports that give an insight into the team and its players, how well or badly they played and his own personal contribution.  In that season they played eleven matches, won seven and lost six and scored forty-six goals and dad bagged eight of them.  The reports are eloquent and imaginative, his use of English is immaculate with perfect grammar and no spelling mistakes and with this impressive writing skill it surprises me even more that he left school without his passing out certificate.

 

These are some of my favourite extracts from the reports:

11.12.1948, “Late in the match the Swifts tried hard and had an apparently good goal by Petcher was disallowed on the grounds of hands” Surely he knew if he handled it or not!

6.11.1948, This was really serious stuff, “A Pasilow was transferred today from Higham Juniours to Higham Swifts and will play on Saturday in the outside left position”.  The fee was not disclosed.

18.12.1948, “Knifton had a grand game but had little support from Petcher who was injured and remained a passenger for most of the game”

no date, “Higham swifts were humiliated by Rushden St Mary’s by 14 goals to 2, in the squelching mud of the home teams ground, a sticky mess of a pitch which resembled a glue pot”, a fairly emphatic defeat by the sounds of it and a lot of excuses!  But let’s not forget that by playing on mud was exactly how Derby County won the 1st division title twice in the 1970’s.

12.2.1949, “The Swifts fielding once again their strongest team we saw football at its best “, self praise indeed

He was also playing cricket and between 1947 and 1949 he maintained a similar journal for ‘The Bats Cricket Club’ and here he did even better because he was the club captain (he was probably on the selection committee as well).  He liked cricket and later on was always in the Council twenty overs side that played regular cricket during the summers.  He was a good all rounder who batted left hand and bowled with his right, which was a bit surprising because he was a total left hander!

Later on he continued to keep a sports journal for the County Offices Football Club for the seasons 1953-54, 1954-55 and 1955-56 and then they stop.  Again he wrote passionate match reports and here are some of my favourite extracts:

10.10.1953,  “Late changes in the County offices Team when Petcher was forced to retire with a cold”, he might have at least called it man flu!

31.10.1953, “Petcher missed a glorious opportunity when perfectly placed at less than three yards he failed completely to connect and the ball rolled by”

5th December 1953 a hat trick against Brighton Rovers

January 1954 – Injury crisis: “Hubbard, Baxter and Petcher all declared fit.  Willis out for the season. Parker now visiting infirmary for treatment.  Landon has decided to hang up his boots.  Howes and Topliss unfit for at least a week.  Bodicoat should be alright for Saturday (cold).  Henson still has slight limp.  Gardner’s leg giving trouble.”  These must have been awfully tough matches!

6th January 1954,  “an entertaining match marred only when County Offices new goalkeeper was carried off with a broken nose”.  See what I mean!

13th January 1954, a 13-0 thumping, brother Peter in the team, Dad playing in defence; “Poor Petcher for the 3rd week running put through his own goal”. …Better to go back to the forwards then.

20th February 1954, “Although the ground was half under water the referee decided play was possible”, I’d liked to have seen that

17th September 1955, in a match they won 6-0 “what a pity the office team became over confident and fiddled and fuddled about in the last fifteen minutes.  They ought to have had a bucket full!”

Although I played cricket with him I don’t remember him playing football except on one occasion in about 1978 when at work the Finance Department (my team) played the Planners (his) in a friendly and he found his old fashioned boots at the back of the garage and although he was forty-six and certainly not match fit he filled his favourite position on the wing and showed glimpses of the talent that he had when he was a young man.  I played full back for Finance and I know he gave me the run around a few times!