Tag Archives: Wellingborough Grammer School

Scrap Book Project – Ivan Petcher, Sports Reporter

Dad used to like to keep scrap books and journals and although I don’t have the first two volumes I do have volume three of his book of footballers that was started on 7th March 1947.

Dad was keen on all forms of sport and I have been looking through the old school magazines from Wellingborough Grammar School to see if I could find any reference to him 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 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.

He is the one in the middle at the front, I am sitting next to him.

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” – what a wimp 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 regularly 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!

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!

Ivan Petcher Sports Reporter

Dad used to like to keep scrap books and journals and although I don’t have the first two volumes I do have volume three of his book of footballers that was started on 7th March 1947.

Dad was keen on all forms of sport and I have been looking through the old school magazines from Wellingborough Grammar School to see if I could find any reference to him 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!

 

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 – 7th March, Ivan Petcher Sports Reporter

Dad used to like to keep scrap books and journals and although I don’t have the first two volumes I do have volume three of his book of footballers that was started on 7th March 1947.

Dad was keen on all forms of sport and I have been looking through the old school magazines from Wellingborough Grammar School to see if I could find any reference to him 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!

 

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!

Ivan Petcher b. 27th March 1932 d. 28th 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!