THE ENGLISH DISEASE/3 . 7 DECADES OF OBSERVATION. THE 1950"sCONTINUED

THE TEMPO INCREASES.

By 1955, Britain was striving to leave behind the war years, now a full decade behind. The Festival of Britain in 1951 had heralded a new, more optimistic era and the Coronation in 1953 of the young Queen Elizabeth the Second, as Mount Everest was conquered raised the spirit of the nation. The end of Rationing in 1954 seemed the final nail in the legacy of the war years. Finances were still tight, but employment was fully available and generally, for more and more citizens a feeling of general security was once more established.

From 1955 onwards great strides were made socially for the British at home. Ownership of private vehicles doubled and soared higher at the end of the decade with the arrival of the Mini and the first Motorway from London to Birmingham. Less obvious but due to make an eventual impact, the first hard drive computers made their bow in 1956, though most of us were unaware for some decades to come of how much the Computer would eventually revolutionise all aspects of life worldwide.

The 50"s was a decade of hard work on one hand and and innovation on the other.Credit Cards, Hovercraft, Videotape, Super Glue, Power Steering, Velcro {what a rip off that proved to be}, Non Stick Frying Pans, Lego and Barbie Dolls were just some constituents of the kaleidoscope of innovation that arrived through the decade.

In the microcosm of my developing teen age world, things also came with a rush. I took on a spiteful History Master who took exception to where I lived in the Town and with the help of my Father and a local Councillor had matters put to rights. A year later, I took my English Master to task for predicting that I would not pass GCE in either ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE because I had dropped Latin. This developed into a very heated exchange, which resulted in me complaining direct and in person to the Headmaster. My luck was , in that day, for he saw in me not a bolshy youth but someone prepared to stand up for himself against unfairness and put over his own point of view strongly but fairly, and with articulation.I know this for in my early 40"s he came, with his wife to my Office, to visit me on spec and filled in some of the gaps that I had regarding my later years at Grammar School which truly were, amongst some of the happiest days of my life to date

Between 1955 and 1959 I developed into a tall, reasonably strong youth with a determination to succeed at whatever I touched. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening, I walked 3 miles to Cricket practice and Youth games in Summer and at the end walked 3 miles back home again.On Saturday morning I played for a School Team, dashed home for a snack, then walked those 3 miles again to play Senior Cricket. In winter, my practice under the street lights with my tough neighbourhood friends at Soccer started to pay dividends and I forced my way into the School First Team where my talent for scoring goals blossomed. In fact, I scored over 100 goals for the school over 3 and a half seasons, setting a record never to be equalled and of which I remain proud to this day. In Cricket also, I excelled, and though promotion to the School First Team in summer meant I missed half the Club Cricket season, I had no qualms about it. School was my bastion and where I loved to be.

Arriving in the 6th form, I became a Prefect ,House Captain and unusually Captain of Cricket for 2 years and not just one as was the norm. Academically, I did OK but no more, until my final result in an A level exam sent, as my Headmaster told me subsequently, shock waves throughout the Staff Room. More on that later.

From the age of 10, my Father had escorted me on the same walk I made to Cricket, every other Winter Saturday, to watch Huddersfield Town play.IN THOSE DAYS THERE WERE NO SEATS ON THE CHEAPER PARTS OF GROUNDS AND YOUNGSTERS LIKE ME WERE OFTEN PICKED UP AND PASSED OVER THE HEADS OF OTHERS DOWN THE STEEP TERRACES TO THE FRONT. TODAY HEALTH AND SAFETY WOULD HAVE CONVULSIONS!

On the way back, I became increasingly involved in quite heated exchanges with my Father and accompanying friends about what we had just seen. I always knew I had won an argument when one or the other would tell me to pipe down as I was just a kid who knew nothing! In those days children were still expected to be seen but rarely heard. Even so, these debates sparked off a lifelong interest in the game and a search for truth as to how to play it. Those days, as still today, many had opinions but few troubled to study and understand the 5 reasons why Goals are scored, and as a result make idiots of themselves. As a teenager, the seeds of a Coaching future were sown in me without me even noticing.

Cricket was different, my Father had been a part time professional footballer in his Liverpool youth but Cricket held only minor interest to him. Even so, he it was ,who with Mother as well, introduced me to County Cricket, taking me to see Yorkshire play at Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield and thus fuelled my developing interest in the game. Indeed, by the age of 12, armed with soggy tomato sandwiches and a bottle of fizzy drink, I would take myself off, on two or sometimes even 3 different buses, to see Yorkshire, and even Test Matches. Again, today Social Services would be called in.

Even now, I look back with sadness that my parents showed so little positive interest in my playing at both games. My Father came to see me play for the School on only one occasion. I scored 3 and he said "Well Done" but never came again. Mother and Father beat that by watching me twice in Under 16 games on Wednesday evenings but then ceased to come again. Nor where they there when, as a 16 year old I scored 46 in a Sykes Cup match for my Club First Team in front of 2000 plus paying spectators. They did however cut out and keep the Press Reports that recorded it and thus, I assume they were pleased with, and for,me.

As my scoring of goals increased for School. even though my Father stayed away, others did not. We had a good side and were unbeaten in several seasons. Thus 3 of us were invited to attend a training session at Huddersfield Town. As the session progressed, a member of Staff there approached and asked "Which one of you is Adams" I stepped forward to be told they wanted me to sign an Amateur Form. My Father had already advised me I could do this if asked, but under no circumstances to sign a Professional agreement. I actually asked if they had the right bloke, for one of my Schoolmates there was generally thought to be an excellent player and prospect playing in defence and midfield. The response actually staggered me as I was told he was a defender and they could make lots of those, but I scored goals and no one could teach that. Decades on, I recognise the validity of the second part of that to a large extent, but I still feel my schoolmate would have made the grade. However, winter then became like summer with trainining on Tuesdays and Thursdays and games on Saturday afternoons. School agreed I could play as long as I played in the morning for them. Thus 2 games each Saturday was my lot. I thus, would like to hereby apologise to the Cinema goers of Huddersfield between 1956 and 1959 for the disruption I caused weekly on packed Saturday evenings, by leaping up loudly to try to alleviate the affects of cramp. The highlight was on one Saturday when I again leapt up only to have cramp attack the other leg as well causing me to topple forwards over the seat in front and disturbing an amorously inclined couple at an indelicate moment. Thankfully, my own girl friend at the time {remember the Methodist Church and Youth Club} was full of Christian understanding and sympathy at these attacks.

The crunch for me was to come when the Club Manager, one William [Bill} Shankly, later to become famous at Liverpool FC asked to see my Father and I. He would offer me a Ground Staff Contract. Ground Staff were in effect dogs bodies and trainees rolled into one. I was torn between choosing it, but also had my roots at School and I had no real upset when my Father declined on the grounds that in those days the maximum wage for a professional was around £20 {the average wage then being around £10} and less in the Summer months.Added to that it was also a short life. I had a good education blossoming and the cards did not thus stack up. That is what he said, but I often wondered whether his one viewing of me had shown him that I was actually slower than I looked. Indeed it was to be my deficiency in pace that was to cost me an injury at the age of 24 which drew the curtains on my playing days and opened up my coaching future.

I continued to play on as an Amateur for Huddersfield but educational aspirations took pride of place. I was ultimately successful in applying for, and gaining a place at Birmingham University to read English. Maybe my joust with my Head of English earlier had spurred me on, but in any event it was signed and sealed by the end of 1958 that the following September, I was to go to Birmingham until one fateful Thursday afternoon in February 1959. Now Thursday afternoon was my favourite at the time. We had a small English group of 4, maybe 6, but no more and this took place in a small intimate study room. Head of English sat at the top and I was seated at the other end but on his right hand side. We were studying Alexander Pope, one of my favourites, for his satire and caustic wit. The lesson was scheduled for 40 minutes and half way through my mind had wandered to the next double period of games and I was working out in my head, the formation to use for my team. Suddenly as if from a distance and down a tunnel, I heard my own name being called, then called again. I returned to full concentration to see an apoplectic Head of English fixing me with a malevolent stare. It subsequently was recorded that he had asked me the same question 3 times and received no response whatsoever. Apoplectic he may have been, but he had his hand steady on the tiler. Even so his voice became higher as he virtually screamed to the effect that he was wasting his time and so was I and that he knew the reason for it.The quiet of the rest of the room was deafening as he ended his tirade with"It"s Games isn't it? I don"t know why you don"t go and spend all your time doing them" For the first of only two occasions in my life it was if a fog was lifted from me. I was subsequently told that I said nothing as he continued to glare in silence, but quietly and deliberately collected my books into my briefcase before standing up. I broke the silence, "Do you know what Sir" I was told I then said. "I think you are absolutely right" and with that stepped to the door ,opened it, walked through it, closed it and strode off towards the Gymnasium. My friends told me that nothing happened for quite a time after I had left and then Head of English decided it would be inappropriate to continue and left for the sanctuary of the Staff Room. I walked towards the Changing Rooms and encountered my Head of P E. "Do you think you could get me into your old College?", I asked! "i would think so but why?"was his response. The full story then was related and 4 weeks later, I was interviewed and accepted for that College in Cheltenham in the West Country. I had by then explained to my bemused parents that I was to become a Teacher, and thankfully encountering no parental opposition.

In September I959, I clapped eyes on the College for the first time. Again it seemed as if Divine Intervention had looked after me. The College was strong on tradition, had high standards but not numbers of students, which eased me from my teens into my 20"s with consummate ease as I passed from one Sanctuary to another. 3 weeks after the start of term saw me on Teaching practice and I took to it like a duck to water.

However, before that in August, I had, of course to receive my "A" Level Results. In those days you turned up, fingers crossed, on the designated day, waited your turn and went into the Head"s Study, where the Deputy Head read them out to you. On entering, said Deputy seemed to flush. As he was my Geography Master, I wondered if this was a harbinger of bad news. I had taken 4 exams, Geography, English, French and a new paper General Studies. For this last paper our designated tutor was the Head himself. At the first session he handed out the syllabus and told us he would attend each weekly session ,subject to availabilty. We never saw him in that context again for the whole year! True, when each Thursday I took him the Cricket Team to sign off, he would ask me how it was going and if there were any problem areas. Apart from that, self taught we had entered the Examination room.

Thus, on Results day, the Deputy Head intoned my results.The pass level being 40%. "Geography 45%, French 50"" I sighed with relief, 2 passes saw me safely into College and those were my worst two subjects! The Deputy continued, "English 65%" I caught just a twinkle in the eye of the Head and realised I was vindicated {I think I did a good answer on Pope}, The Deputy coughed as if he had a throat problem, "Gen, Gen, General St St Studies" he finally got out, " Nurty 5 %" came out. The Head smiled at him "What was that again Fred?" he asked and if he had not been my Head I would have said it was with a touch of mischief. "Fred" pulled himself together, "95% ", he said clear as a bell. The Head stretched out his hand,and gave me congratulations telling me that he had information that I "had the top score in the whole Examining Board Results" This even cheered up Fred, "Oh yes " he said, "You also have a distinction in Spoken English on the same paper."

Revisiting the school on my first half term from College, I had a long and relaxed chat with the Head who told me that he had been trying to revolutionise Teaching Methods in the School to maintain progress but older Members Of Staff were resistant and that my success in General Studies had provided him with much needed and specific ammunition to question why someone taught on old methods was classified, at best, as a plodder, and yet in a different environment of learning achieve distinction. I had left school but it seems memories of me lingered on.

Thus, it was with confidence that both Britain and myself entered the 1960"s. My parents had sold the business, my Mother had a house she was proud of at last, my Father was climbing up the Cinema Administration pole and I was settled for the next 2 years at least in a College that suited me down to the ground. On the wider front, the 50"s sensations of Bill Haley, Elvis Presley were to be soon matched and even eclipsed in some cases, by others as "The Swinging Sixties "arrived. However behind the facade cracks were to appear that would soon lead to changing social mores and though progress is based on change ,not ALL change is progress. The Pendulum had begun to swing and there was no way it was going to stop in the middle as the next Hub will begin to reveal.

PS. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT THE REFERANCE TO "VELCRO AS A RIP OFF EARLIER IN THIS HUB WAS A JOKE NOT A FACT!





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