Arthur Head School Football Team c1955/56

t13005This is a photograph of the Arthur Head School Football Team. The names are; Back row (l-r) John Kirk, Trevor Todd, Roland Harrison, Tommy Watson, Goff Earnshaw, George Gascoigne and Mr Ross (teacher). Front row (l-r) ? Robson, Fred Iceton, Norman Liggett, Colin Burns, John Vincent. 

We had a good team those days and only lost one match and that was the Durham Schools Cup Final played on the old Stockton Football ground. Unfortunately, two of the team have passed on, Tommy Watson and Colin Burns. It would be good to hear from any of the team, or indeed anybody remembers us.

Photograph and details courtesy of John Vincent

33 thoughts on “Arthur Head School Football Team c1955/56

  1. Hello to all my old schoolmates of the Arthur Head 1955/56 football team!
    I remember the season well but ooh! how did we miss the big at the Victoria? ground in Stockton!
    My son,Tony, had most of the facts bang on except I moved to Liberia in 1965 and my family joined me 3 months later (any longer and my Mrs.would probably have divorced me!)
    We returned briefly to Thornaby in 1977 and then I moved on to join the UK construction team on the channel tunnel project and shortly after the breakthrough was fortunate to land a managerial post with Eurotunnel, the clients.
    I remained there till I retired, moved to Lincoln in 2003 and finally back to THORN ABBEY!!
    (actually Ingleby Barrick!! – for the non conformists), in 2017.
    I currently divide my time between here and my place in Spain however still enjoy a beer or three so if anyone reads this and are still in the area please let me know – have tankard will travel!!

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    • I keep looking at this photograph of the Arthur Head school 1955 football team, and will claim that this is the best photo ever taken of boys from ‘Yesterday’s Thornaby’. I can easily imagine these young men at age 18, in uniform and serving our nation. Whoever the Sergeant Major is, he would be proud of them.

      The British Army, has always been keen on recruiting young men with a strong sense of belonging to places similar in every way to Stockton, Thornaby, Billingham and Norton, fine young men with a strong sense of loyalty to your County, to the Green Howards or the DLI, and ultimately to The Crown. What needs to be said is, when danger threatens our concerns and love and aid will always reach out to those lads and girls and pals you once sat with in the recreation ground, and maybe that is the true measure of our born in Stockton – made in Stockton, forged in England birth right.

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    • Came across my old school mate Ray Robson’s post on the Stockton Archive and very happy to see it. Re the 55/56 Arthur Head football team I was an occasional 1st reserve and travelled with the team. I can only remember 2 games – the Durham final against a school team from Houghton -le- Spring or was it Washington. The away team scored early and hung on despite the efforts our our goal machine, Norman Liggett, losing the game 1 – 0. The other game was in an earlier round where we travelled to West Hartlepool in the depths of winter and played on a packed snow pitch and won easily. I remembered standing on the pitch line freezing to death with Mr Ross , our sports teacher. I played in the team the following year with Ray, John Kirk, Colin Burns and we didn’t do as well as the previous year. I was into the 100 yards 220 yards and long jump (yards dates us!) this was my preferred sport.
      I left Teesside in the early 60’s and eventually became a environmental scientist and eventually worked in my own consultancy. I a now fully retired and spend my time playing golf (very badly) and looking after my 2 year old first grandson. My wife and I live in Cheshire and also in France and support Man City (up the Blues) but still look out for Boro results (depressing). My sister and all her family live in Ingleby Barwick so I visit Thornaby regularly. Visits to old Thornaby can be depressing although my old home in Stranton Street is still standing. Memories of Ray was that he was a bit of a leader in the fashion stakes being the first boy to wear luminous green socks – very daring at the time!
      Nice to hear from you Ray.

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      • I remember you as a top sprinter in the Stockton School Sports along with the half miler Alan Kidd, but as you say your school team was not as good as the previous year because we knocked you out of the Salmon Cup at Newham Grange School.

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        • Hello “Anon” I remember that game. John Kirk, who was our best player, went on a trip to Blackpool that weekend. Mr Ross, our PE teacher, was furious with John for missing that game. I also became Durham County sprint champion and later winner against Scotland and Northumberland. Now I can barely keep up with my 2 year old grandson when he does a runner! I think we came second in the league that year – was it Richard Hind that were top.

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          • Jeff, John Kirk who I know very well did play in this game which was on a Wednesday after school, we got beat by Richard Hind on the Victoria Ground they had a outstanding player in Douglas Cattermole a small blonde haired lad who was later a professional with Middlesbrough. There was no doubt about your sprinting ability, but we Newham Grange School won the 4×100 yards relay every time in our age group.

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            • Hi “Anon” Your memory is better than mine. It must have been another key game. I remember it was played at the Tilery Road pitches – does it still exist? I was in touch with John Kirk few years ago. He’s a keen golfer who plays at the Billingham Golf Club. I remember Douglas Cattermole – didn’t his Son or Grandson recently play for the Boro or was it Sunderland?

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              • Hi Jeff, No Lee who was at the Boro, is now at Sunderland is the son of Barry who is a relation of Dougie. Tilery Sports Centre who ran the pitches has been demolished & replaced with North Shore Academy. Which part of Cheshire do you live?

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                • Hi again. Stockton and Thornaby has changed so much. Parks and playing fields seem to suffer the most. We live in the small village of Cuddington which is between Northwich and Chester. We are 40 minutes from Manchester where our daughter lives. Another successful schoolboy footballer of our time was Gordon Jones who was at Fred. Natrass school (I think). he was a England u23 player and a stalwart Boro full back for years. Where are they now? Off to Wembley this weekend to watch City in the Cup Final. Supported City from the 60s through good and bad times. My Son-in-Law is United so some conflict there! Best wishes.

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                  • Gordon Jones went to Holy Trinity, he is a match day ambassador at the Boro along with other former players, he also has a shop at Hardwick, he was told he was too small to play for Durham Schoolboy’s team. Jeff I live very close to you in the next village.

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                  • Jeff: Manchester City F.A. Cup win 2019. This must be the UK win to cap all wins. Like you, I another born in Thornaby person support Man. City. This comes about by my working in Manchester in the 1960s, and observing the unbelievable team rivalry between close knitted streets and neighbours, all evidenced by houses frontages being decorated in the teams colours, when these houses are ‘next door to each other’ it used to create a great deal of amusement. My grandson is the top Junior footballer in Vancouver, Canada, he’s scored over 300 goals. I am so proud I have two Canadian grandsons only one generation away from Barnard Street, Thornaby, and a great credit to us all. Does anyone know what became of Jim Toner, Thornaby, who last I heard was in S. Africa.

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  2. I was goalkeeper 1956-59 Arthur Head school. Tommy Watson was very encouraging to me a really lovely person. Tommy broke his arm and I played in goal for the senior team although I was under age at the time; just one match. John Lofthouse was a brilliant player and our coach ‘Tiger’ Wilson was brilliant and played for Redcar Albion. We had a very good team.

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    • Yes Wilson played outside left for Redcar Albion who were a top team in the re-vamped North-Eastern League, other local lads in that team were Peter Scott, Jackie Morris & Tommy Ruddy.

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  3. George Gascoyne & Norman Liggitt represented Durham County Schoolboys along with Holy Trinity’s David Hawk in season 1955-56, as already mentioned Liggitt & Hawk were at the Boro.

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  4. Bottom left front row is my dad – Ray Robson. He worked on the railway in Thornaby and left the UK around 1963ish to go and work on the railways in Liberia, West Africa. We, myself, my younger brother Steven and mam Dorothy joined him after a couple of years and we lived out there until the late 70’s(around 1977) before we came back home. Dad worked at ICI upon his return until 1988 when he went(with mam) down to Kent, where he was responsible for the construction of the railway through the Channel Tunnel for TML. He progressed to Eurotunnel after construction was completed up until he retired. Mam & Dad have been retired now since around 2000 – and have lived on the Costa Blanca(Torrevieca) since. They spend around 9 months in Spain and 3 summer months or so in the UK where they have a home in Lincolnshire. It’s fantastic to see all of these old photographs with some of dad’s old mates on them.

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    • Antony, please remember me to your dad next time. He must remember the good team we had those days and all the good results . Ask him if he still has the medals we won i.e. Salmon and Salter cups! I do !! When we left school I was a news reporter till 1969, then joined the motor trade and worked for Jaguar until 2005 and , like your dad, retired.

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  5. Anon, I didn’t play much football after leaving school, but ….. I did go with Bob Wesson, who wasn’t in the school team above, for a trial to Coventry City, where Bob signed and me ? I was homesick !!!! At least , that’s my story !!! Yes, I do remember Dave Henderson, he is on some school photo’s I have, you wouldn’t know his email ?

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  6. Only three of this team were young enough to play the following season John Kirk,Ray Robinson & Colin Burns,but unfortunately they were knocked out of the Salmon Cup quarter-final at Newham Grange 3-2,their team had two very good athletes Jeff Prest & Alan Kidd who both won for Arther Head in the Stockton Schools Sports.

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  7. I was in the same class has all these boys, but can’t for the life of me remember the teacher Mr Ross?, was the Head called a Mr Madden? I think most of us got transferred from Robert Atkinsons to Arthur Head school during some sort of 1954 Beeching type of school closure and re-organisation plan. I can remember John Kirks dad, a man who worked at Heads in Trafagar Street, and wonder was Johns mother ever the caretaker at the National C of E School, in George Street, Thornaby. I think it was Brian Robson, the missing name person.

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    • Hi Bob, the name of the missing Robson was , I’m told was Ray. Sorry, I don’t recall you in ” our ” class, as it were and yes the Head was Mr Madden. I have a photo of us being presented with the Thornaby cup by Alderman Padgett. Mr Ross was a good teacher, he must have been to get the results we had that year !!!

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      • I keep looking at this photo and can visualise down memory lane all on it, you John were very quiet and considered to be the studious type, the whole front row I knew well, sometimes when I think about Thornaby you get to wondering whatever happened to so-and-so. Names I occasionally think about are: Jimmy Gray who went to South Africa, Laurie his brother who died recently (he married the Joan Foster) Alan Bradshaw, Tommy Donnachy, and sister Rose, Alfie Frost, Doc Rutherford, who I last heard of was in South Africa. Little Tommy Hayes, Bobby and Sammy Wright, Reece Todd, Polly Porter and Alan Dawson (the pub bouncer) definitely a queer old mix of saints and sinners. I can still remember Tommy Donnachy when he got his first ‘Teddy Boy suit with crepe sole shoes and ‘quiff hairstyle’, who married (was it) Winnie Rocks? Most of us hung out in the rec, and it’s good to see so many ventured forth from Thornaby ‘to be a Pilgrim’. We need to remind ourselves that Captain Cooks mother was a Thornaby girl, so in a way Australia has that connection with Thornaby…

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      • That was only one years achievement. Ken Sawyer the Richard Hind Schoolteacher did it year after year, a lot of his team photos are on this web-site.

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      • I remember this team very well. We where on the receiving end of a 9-1 thrashing in the first Thornaby Cup. Nice to read of the Thornaby boys who do remember or think about each other. What ever happened to
        Bob Wesson who did not make this team but went on to play for Coventry City and Wallsal?

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      • Is this the Mervyn Hills who played in goal for St Patricks School football team in the Salter Cup 1953-54 season on the Victoria Ground, Stockton alongwith Mario Ambrosie and Ronnie Gourlay’s brother? Is the Jim Boyd the one who worked in the Head Wrightsons Thornaby, Bridgeyard, as did his father in the blacksmiths? A good lad and a blast from the past.

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    • I too went to Arthur Head School 1962/1964. I lived next door to John Kirk, he had a sister called Cynthia.I’m sure she used to be a Fiesta Fawn and then went on to run her own pubs.One of which I think was The Fighting Cocks at Middleton St. George before moving to The Fir Tree at Crook.

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  8. I was in the Richard Hind team beaten in a cup semi-final at the Victoria ground, 4-2, by Arthur Head School. The timeline of this photograph would suggest that this is the team we played against. A photograph of the Richard Hind team I speak of is already on this site.

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    • Nice to hear from you John. Yes I remember that game, I scored one of the goals !! Mind you , one always seems to remember when one scored in those days. It does seem a long time ago !!”

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      • Hi John. It was a great game as I remember playing in front of a large crowd at the Victoria Ground. Proud to say I scored one of the RH goals, however also guilty of missing a good chance of a second.

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  9. John Kirk in this photo after playing for Middlesbrough Juniors and Smith Dock Juniors, played in the Northern League for Billingham Synthonia and Shildon,he also played cricket for Thornaby,others who were at the Boro Juniors were Freddie (Barney) Iceton and Norman Liggett, George Gascoinge captained South Bank Juniors and Geoff Earnshaw played in the Teesside League for Head Wrightsons, Brittania Rovers and Norton C.C.T.John Kirk, Trevor Todd, Roly Harrison, Joffy Earnshaw, George Gascoinge, Ray Robinson, Freddie Iceton and Norman Liggett all worked at Head Wrightsons.

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    • Anon , you seem to know where most of the lads worked when leaving school. So, to complete your ” set ” and I seem to be the missing one, I worked for the Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough as reporter for 33 years.

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      • Sorry John, I knew you played in this school team but I did not know you, did you play much football when you left school? Another Thornaby lad who went to school with a lot of these lads was Dave Henderson now living in Spain.

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