John Russell looks back at Villa Park and beyond.
It cost me sixpence to get into Villa Park for a reserve team match and a shilling(5p) for the first team. Servicemen in uniform went in through the boys turnstile.
Referees always knew what they were doing
From October onwards there was mud down the middle of the pitch
Linesmen weren’t afraid to adjudge a foul throw.
Goalkeepers stepping beyond the area when clearing would be penalised
Managers sat next to their chairman in the directors box
The eleven who started were expected to be the eleven who finished. Many were the heroes who limped along the wing or the forward who deputised between the sticks.
Photographers sat aside both goals and were a clear indication as to how things were expected to go. They invariably left before the end and had runners whose job it was to beat the deadline.
Trainers carried sponges and cold water in an old bladder and treated the wounded in a trice.
The ball at the start of the game was the ball at the end of the game. Even when it got kicked over the Witton Lane stand into the street a steward was deployed to go and recover it.
Games finished at 4.40 otherwise the crowd would start to whistle.
Trams travelled to the depot along Witton Lane.
Trams for Short Heath. Erdington and Pype Hayes loaded in Steelhouse Lane. Those for Bristol Road and the Lickey Hills loaded in Navigation Street.
The Lickey Hills and Dudley Zoo were a rite of passage for youngsters, as was a ride around the Outer Circle.
The Outer Circle Walk – starting and finishing at Villa Park.
Coventry Road trolley buses negotiated Albert Street opposite the Beehive.
Midland Red buses stopped outside the Odeon, New Street
Corporation bus routes circumnavigated the city centre then terminated at the city boundary.
Queues for buses were orderly, not random.
Fares were based on the number of stages travelled and stages were normally about every three stops. Stage stops were red, request stops blue
Television was in black and white and only on air from early evening and finished at midnight with the National Anthem followed by the test card.
After six hours of earie silence radio programmes resumed at 6 am with the playing of the British theme.
Grace Archer was ‘killed’.
New Street was two stations with a road running down the middle between the two.
Trains stopped on the approaches at outlying local stations where an armada of inspectors boarded to check tickets. The speed of this operation was legendry.
There was always an old lady outside the war damaged market hall selling handy carriers.
The area opposite the Odeon remained an extensive bomb site until the mid-fifties when they built City Centre House and “the biggest Boots in Britain”.
Baked potato carts supplied the ultimate and only fast food.
‘Spatch and Mail sellers plied their wares from strategic places in the city centre.
Shops were closed on Wednesday afternoon and on Sundays
Buses were boarded at the back, seat taken, then a clippie collected the fares. Pressing the ‘stop button’ was a ‘hanging offence’ It was their job alone to press the ‘stop’ button.
There was a roof garden atop Lewis’s.
Motorists would stop to ask for directions
Every other car was an Austin
Warwickshire famously beat the West Indies touring team (1950)
and won the County Championship (1951 when that was all there was.
There was a snooker hall above every branch of Burton‘s Tailors
Postman called every morning before 8 am again at midday then for a third time in mid afternoon
A Saturday morning trip to town involved a one hour one shilling show at the Tatler or the News Theatre either for the serial (“and in one bound he was free”) or especially the first chance to see the Grand National, Derby or other major events.
The Theatre Royal in New Street, just down from the Forum Cinema, was replaced by Woolworths.
Mars Bars cost fourpence and required two ounce-worth of coupons.
Ice Cream meant Midland Counties.
The Corona Man.
The milkman’s horse – and manure for the roses
October meant the Pat Collins Onion fair at the Serpentine followed by the students carnival and the Carnival fair.
Street collections where you were given a paper badge for putting a donation in the tin.
November meant fogs.
Graham Warren was a household name throughout the city.
Children were expected to stand for adults when the bus was full, hence the scramble to travel upstairs.
Pubs were no place for children.