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Clifford Timpson

Rushden Intermediate Old Boys F.C./Rushden Juniors F.C./Rushden Amateurs F.C.

Rushden & District League Fixture 1940
Eastfield High School Playing Field, Victoria Road, Rushden.
Rushden Intermediate Old Boys v. Rushden Juniors
(Result: 0 - 1)
Back Row: F.Farrington, C.Timpson, D.Bayes, G.Sail, D.Loakes, E.Butler, D.Nicholson
Middle Row: B.Bayes, J.Skeeles, D.Britchford, B.Roddis, D.Hart, D.Green, D.George, J.Sherwood, P.Miles, J.Murdin
Front Row: H.Jacques, R.Ingram, P.Beaumont, A.Dickens, L.Pendered

In the early and mid 1930s, at holiday times and weekends, it was customary for a group of children to assemble at Spencer Park, put coats down in lieu of goalposts, pick sides and have a ‘kickabout’.  Numbers were unimportant, children joining in as they arrived.  Whether or not these events could take place depended solely on one particular person being present – he was the only one of us who possessed a football.  If he wasn’t around, one of us would call at his house and try and coax him out.  He was not a very likeable child and it was not unusual for him to pick his ball up and go home if something was said to upset him.  He must remain nameless as he probably transformed later in life to become an upstanding pillar of Rushden Society.

Don Nicholson and I had been close mates for some years and early in 1937, Don suggested to me that we should form a football club.  As we didn’t have two pennies to rub together between us, this seemed a ‘pie in the sky’ idea.  However we decided to give it a go and put together a team from amongst our friends.  No pitches were available so we arranged to play away matches.  Unfortunately the available opposition comprised of teams in their late teens or twenties whilst many of us had not left school.  Needless to say our first forays into organised sport resulted in cricket scores being posted against us.

It was decided that obtaining a pitch was of paramount importance so Don and I visited the home of the Intermediate School Headmaster, Mr Howitt, and we had the temerity to ask him for the use of the school pitch on Saturday afternoons.  When asked for the names of participating players it was fortunate that Jim Sherwood was one of our number and the fact his father was Head of another school stood us in good stead.  Mr Howitt agreed the use of the school pitch and he also allowed us to use the school building for changing.  However, two conditions were laid down.  Firstly the team had to be called ‘Rushden Intermediate Old Boys’ and secondly, at least seven old boys must take part each week.  Don and I had to visit him on Friday evenings with the following day’s team sheet and have it vetted.  We often found it difficult to field seven Int old boys as several of us were ex Grammar or Public Schoolboys, so I am afraid that the team vetted by Mr Howitt on a Friday did not always bear relation to that playing the following day.  I was appointed Secretary/Treasurer and raising funds became a priority.  Members were asked to beg what they could from relatives etc and these donations were entered on a card which had been provided for them.  This brought in sufficient to purchase our first football at 15s.6d.  I see from memorabilia which I still have that our first season’s income was £2.9s.9d. and expenditure £1.5s.0d. thus making a handsome profit of £1.4s.9d.  Receipts were obtained for all purchases and each stamp, usually 1d., had to be accounted for.

Matches were arranged for every Saturday throughout the season and there was no problem in obtaining fixtures.

At the end of this 1937/8 season of friendly matches, Don and I were thinking of something more competitive and it occurred to us that the teams with whom we were playing friendlies might well agree to joining a League, if one could be formed.  Don and I first called on Mr Cyril Freeman, Manager of Rushden Town F.C. for advice, which was readily forthcoming.  He promised to donate a cup to the League winners assuming that such a League could be formed.  He later honoured this promise.

We then cycled to the surrounding towns and villages, interviewing the club secretaries and the response was so encouraging that a meeting was arranged at the Waverley Hotel which was attended by Clubs’ representatives who had a mandate to join the proposed League.  Nine clubs attended; four from Rushden; two from Wellingborough and one each from Irchester, Bozeat and Finedon, and all agreed to join.  Other teams joined at a later date.  It was decided that the League would be known as ‘The Rushden District Minor League’ and would be open to all clubs within an eight mile radius.  All clubs had to be affiliated to the Northants F.A. and players had to be under 18 on the last Saturday of August of any season.  Mr Wilf Capon, Managing Director of John Cave & Sons, was approached and he agreed to become the first President and Mr H.V. Ingram was appointed Secretary.  Referees were appointed conjointly with the Kettering & District, Rushden & District and Wellingborough & District S.S. & B.C. Amateur Leagues.  The referee fee was 2 shillings plus 3rd class rail or bus fare.

Rules were drawn up and a host of fines, usually 1 shilling [5p], were to be awarded against clubs for infringements – playing a man short; late arrival; playing an ineligible player; unsatisfactory pitch marking; failing to send a representative to Committee meetings etc.  One shilling seems a derisory amount today but put in context, the going rate for children leaving school and starting employment was no more than 2½d. [1p] per hour, so, such fines were avoided wherever possible.  At that time 1 shilling would pay for 12 visits to Saturday matinee performances at the Palace Cinema.

Prior to the commencement of our first League season a major problem presented itself.  The Intermediate School pitch which we had been using did not conform to the minimum standards laid down by the F.A.  Not only did the dimensions not reach the minimum requirements but the goalposts were too low.

In desperation Don and I visited the Eastfield High School at the top of Victoria Road, a private school with a number of foreign students.  The Head, a charming man, to our relief, graciously allowed us the use of the school pitch.  My uncle owned some disused stables at the rear of Bates’ fish and chip shop [junction of Duck Street and High Street] and these were cleaned out and used as changing rooms.

Our team was considerably strengthened and we were also inundated with applications to join the club so we decided to run a second team – in effect a reserve team.  However, as it was decided to enter it also into the Minor League, players were registered separately and could not switch teams.  This second team was titled ‘Rushden Juniors’ and I moved over from the ‘old boys’ to oversee it.  I well remember when the two teams clashed in the League fixture, the ‘Juniors’ won 1–0, against all the odds and it almost cost the ‘Old Boys’ the Championship that year.

War having been declared, the 1940/41 Season saw the departure of most players into the Forces.  Together with Don Nicholson and Roy Ingram, I volunteered for the R.A.F. and the next 6 years were spent mostly abroad.

Demobilisation in 1946 and our thoughts returned to football.  A meeting was arranged at the Waverley Hotel and as many old members as possible were rounded up.  A new name for the club had to be found and my proposal of ‘Rushden Amateurs’ was adopted.  Application for one of the two pitches at Spencer Park was successful, the other pitch being allocated to Rushden Adult School.

The 1949/1950 Season saw the Amateurs have a successful run in the Northants Junior Cup, a cup competition open to all amateur clubs in the county.  On our passage to the final against Kislingbury, we were drawn to play Raunds Town at Raunds in the semi final and the match was not without incident.  At the final whistle the Amateurs led 2–1, but then followed an outburst by Raunds players and spectators claiming that the referee had played 5 minutes short.  The referee refused to accept their complaints but this was not the end of it.  Letters appeared the following week in the Evening Telegraph from disgruntled supporters who maintained that the nearby church clock chiming at the beginning and end of the match proved their point.  The referee countered by saying that this could be accounted for as he had not allowed the full ten minute break at the interval.  The Bandmaster of the Raunds Town Band, which had played during the interval, quoted the time taken to play the two pieces at the interval which, he said, could not be encompassed in a shortened interval.  This was a very large storm in a very small teacup as the only recognised timekeeper is the referee and not the Raunds church clock.

I left Rushden for Lichfield in 1951 and stayed in John White’s employment until retirement in 1986.  Unfortunately, I have no idea whether the Club is still in existence having no contact with them since ’51.

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