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Tony Flynn

FROM THE VIDEO ARCHIVES: MYSTERY OF SALFORD'S MOST FAMOUS FOOTBALL MATCH SOLVED

Tony did a story in August 2011 about a football match that was played at the Willows in May 1949, the final of the Lowther Shield between The Grove and Wellington public houses. Some of the mysteries behind it are revealed in this video.

 

Stories of this match have reached almost mythical proportions; stories of the crowd ranging from 10,000 to 20,000, the Mayor of Salford greeting the teams on the pitch, open top bus tours of Salford by the winning team, (The Grove incidentally), even stories of the match winner and the final score. 

However, SalfordOnline were delighted to hear from 98-year-old Charlie Oldham, who was not only at the game as as spectator but was one of the founder members of the Salford Sunday League Committee which was formed in 1947/48. 

Charlie has a remarkable memory, and was able to set the record straight once and for all. 

Charlie told us that the match had attracted attention throughout Salford and the initial print run of 10,000 tickets for the final sold out so quickly that another 5,000 had to be printed to cope with demand. 

Charlie approached the manager of Salford Rugby Club, a Mr Jim Douglas, and asked if the game could be played there, with the money being split 50/50 between Salford Sunday League Committee and Salford Rugby Club. 

The tickets cost 1 shilling and Charlie told us the fascinating detail that with their gate money Salford Rugby Club were able to purchase Tom Danby in August 1949 from the Harlequins, the first England Rugby union International player signed by Salford. 

On the day of the match George saw the size of the crowd and urged Salford to open a paying gate to deal with the large number of fans with no tickets, he reckons that were well over 16,000 in attendance, I'm certain that many must have climbed over and saw the match for free! 

As for the match, sadly the Mayor of Salford did not meet the teams, instead the pub landlord's shook the hands of the players along with committee members of the Salford Sunday League. 

The final score was 1-0 for the Grove with the goal a header being scored by Billy Hanlon in the Weaste Cricket Club end. 

As for the open-top bus tour of Salford by the Grove team - sadly not true - however a double-decker was used to take the triumphant team back to the pub on Eccles New Road, for a celebratory pint or two. 

Charlie also told us that he knew the bookie George Lowther who had betting shops in Weaste, and asked him if he would purchase a shield for the game and it would be named in his honour, this he duly did and paid £20 for it. 

The First Division Champion Cup which was also won by the Grove that year, holds a fascinating story in itself. 

Charlie and fellow committee members decided that a new cup would be in order for the start of the first season of 1947/48, they contacted a woman in Chorlton-cum-Hardy who was selling a silver cup for £100, they visited the lady and found that it was a bowling cup complete with a crown green 
bowler on the lid. 

The cup was purchased and Charlie took the lid to a jewellers shop on Trafford Road, Salford called Spinks, and for the sum of £5 they transformed the bowler into a footballer, and if you look at photographs of the cup you can see the man on the lid has been turned into a footballer! 

Charlie who was a painter and decorator lived on Bridson Street for many years, know lives in Warrington and will be celebrating his 99th birthday soon, it was a pleasure talking to him, and listening to the many tales of old Salford that he could tell, he really should write a book. 

So from everybody at SalfordOnline.com we thank Charlie for his time and trouble and helping to set the record straight on that momentous day in Salford in May 1949.

This story first appeared on SalfordOnline, in March 2013, it is reproduced here with the permission of Salford International Winger, Tony Flynn. Video by Joe McCarty.



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