A team that held its own

We were delighted to receive a letter from a former player in our Biggleswade United 1960-62 photo (Memory Lane, October 5, 2012).

Celestine Roberts wrote to say: “I was very, very pleased to receive from my brother Ian, who still lives in Biggleswade, the photo of Biggleswade United. It brought back many happy memories, and to see us all looking so fit and healthy with lots of hair!”

Celestine describes the team at that time as a “thriving go-ahead team, possibly the best around”.

“We all lived for football, training on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, then playing on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Celestine remembers Mrs Murphy who ran the local sports shop as being a friend to his widowed mother and ‘an absolute hero’. Unable to afford his own kit, Mrs Murphy (contributor Noel Murphy’s mum) would give him socks, shin pads, shorts and soccer boots. He says: “When the new ‘all moulded’ Adidas type boots came into being, Mrs Murphy even smuggled a new pair to me which I am sure Noel didn’t know about!”

He continues: “I am certain the team would hold its own in the present day – Robert Cooper, an honest straight forward player; Noel Murphy, hard but fair; Alan Smith, a good man to have in goal; Ken Sermons, no nonsense,‘take no prisoners’; Jimmy Philbrook, probably the best all round athlete of our day; Ken Gale, very fast and good at being on the right wing; Colin Pepper, very tricky; Bob Course, a good inside forward; and Alan ‘Sniffer’ Bartram, very good in front of goal, scoring lots of goals for the team.”

He describes Brian Albone, who sadly passed away the day the photo was published, as doing the ‘step over’, sending players the wrong way long before present day ‘Ronaldo’. He recalls playing lots of football with Brian, some at County level.

Other players he remembers that do not appear in the photo were Doughie Boyd, Micky Reed, Barry Crane, Duecy Price, David Boswell, Bobby Carr, and Sid Heath.

He describes his own playing style as “left footed”. “I played mostly on the left wing and could cross a good ball for anyone to score. I think the only drawback for us lot nowadays would be not knowing how to dive! We wouldn’t last a full match, tackling the way it was in the sixties. Thanks to you Noel, great memories!”

Celestine would love to have a sixties reunion to meet up with former team members, and has suggested the Fairfield clubhouse as an appropriate venue.

As he now lives in Nottinghamshire, he wonders if anyone local could “start the ball rolling”. Please contact Celestine on 0115-9894236 if you remember those days and would be interested.