This is an interesting programme from the Torbay Herald Cup Final played at Newton Abbot on Good Friday, April 15th 1960, between Torquay United ‘A’ and eventual winners Totnes Town.
The Torquay team had Mike Sangster at number 10 who, of course, was one of the most famous sportsmen to come out of the Westcountry & who would soon be a semi-finalist at Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open, the latter two a year after this game and Wimbledon in 1963.
In 1960, the year of this game, Sangster was a teenager playing for United as an amateur and was offered terms by West Ham United but ultimately decided to take the professional tennis route. He was known as a snappy dresser, indeed was often said to be the best dressed man in Torquay where it was stated he ‘seemed cast for heroic roles in one sport or another’.
He died young suffering a heart attack whilst playing golf, aged 44, in 1985.
Mike Sangster’s autograph was on a sheet of Torquay United footballers from the early sixties and he obviously signed it in this role rather than as a tennis player.
There was a collection for the St. John Ambulance Brigade and World Refuge Fund, as seen on the rear of the programme, which raised £7-15-3, the hand writing indicating that this programme may’ve belonged to one of the collectors or organisors.
Very interesting programme. The Totnes goalie Ray Reynolds was to become my brother in law 3 years later.I played for the United "A" in the 1961-62 season and played a few matches with Mike Sangster a very good footballer and a superb athlete and above all very nice man. I left at the end of that season and joined Totnes Town and we got through to the Herald Cup final, played the "A" and were well beaten 4-0. We were poor if substitutes were allowed then a lot of us would not have come out for the 2nd half. By the way the attendance for the match estimated around 3000.
What became of Totnes Town? Are they in any way related to Totnes & Dartington? And where was their home ground?
They are related having merged in 2005. I was always under the impression that Totnes Town played first team games in Borough Park – the town’s main park – alongside the rugby team. This is the open space tucked behind the houses between the railway station and the town centre.
Totnes Town played in the South Devon League although I seem to remember a touch of scandal when they made an application to the Devon County League prior to the merger. The league’s regulations stipulated that certain facilities were needed for acceptance. Totnes – and I’m treading carefully here from memory – didn’t have what was required and needed planning permission to proceed. This hadn’t been granted (or, possibly, not even applied for) by the time the league came to inspect the ground. Thinking creatively, somebody from the club erected the proposed facilities solely for the duration of the visit giving the impression that the work had been completed. Much impressed, the league was about to grant membership only to later learn the truth. When the storm broke Totnes Town were politely told they could forget the Devon County League for the duration.
That must have been a year or two before the merger which saw the new Totnes & Dartington playing on the Dartington Hall estate next door to Dartington & Totnes CC. You can find T&D’s league record at www.fchd.info/TOTNESDS.HTM
At one stage T&D were managed by John Gayle (ex Wimbledon, Birmingham, Stoke, Northampton, Torquay, etc).
Someone must have worked wonders even to pretend that Borough Park would have been acceptable but every time I walk past that derelict dairy by the leat I think what a fine place for a new football ground. And the schoolkids have all those lovely playing fields too which are wasted on them if they are going to use them for rugby, hockey etc.
Next question then: If we allow T&D to represent Totnes then which is the largest town in Devon & Cornwall not to have a team in the SWPL or higher? I'm guessing Redruth, maybe?
Totnes was the first team that Torquay United ever beat in a Devon Senior Cup match - 3-0 on 4 January 1908 at Barton Road with a Billy Pridham hat-trick.
They turned the tables on us three weeks later, unexpectedly thrashing us 5-1 in an East Devon Cup match at Totnes.
United only fielded ten men and Totnes broke the competition rules by fielding a team put together from several clubs in the area rather than a single club.
The heyday of soccer in Totnes was probably the late 40s / early 50s when they played in the very strong Plymouth and District League.
They were supposed to be founder members of the South Western League in 1951 but they along with neighbours Dartmouth United, Brixham United and Paignton Corinthians all got cold feet at the last minute and pulled out.
The SWL went on to be a Cornish-dominated league that became a bit of a millstone for Newton Abbot (they dropped the Spurs for a while) who had been the driving force behind the league's formation. TUFC reserves only gave it four years.
How much more strongly might football in South Devon have developed if the four had not chickened out?
Mrs Beeste and I saw a signpost for Liverton's ground last month while on our way to look for birds of prey at Halwell Forest. Never saw a single raptor but we did see pied flycatchers at Yarner Wood and also bumped into Anne Widecombe, who lives on the moor now. She was pretty friendly actually, since we didn't talk politics (we would have disagreed, big time!) I don't suppose she is a season ticket holder at Plainmoor?
and also bumped into Anne Widecombe, who lives on the moor now. She was pretty friendly actually, since we didn't talk politics (we would have disagreed, big time!) I don't suppose she is a season ticket holder at Plainmoor?
Generally speaking, when discussing politics in South Devon, it's probably best to start by assuming you're talking to a Tory. Plenty of honourable exceptions, of course, but that's probably the wise default position. If not Tory, try Liberal Democrat (several varieties). Then it's evens UKIP or Labour. Hopefully you'll encounter a few Greens as well.
No reported sightings of Widders nor much history of local Tories being seen at Plainmoor (other than those who stand on the terraces). One former MP - Frederic Bennett - probably confined his interest in sport towards demanding more sporting contact with Apartheid South Africa and assorted Latin American Juntas. And, to the best of my knowledge his successor, Rupert Allason, didn’t include any Plainmoor action in his Nigel West spy novels (he was around for Dave Caldwell so that would have been a missed opportunity for a psycho villain on a mission from the GDR in its death throes. Perhaps he was anyway?)
Roger Stringer, Liberal Democrat councillor, has been a friend of the club for many years and Adrian Sanders, the local MP, is a fan. I believe that’s also true for Julien Parrott, the UKIP bloke in the last General Election.
Ah, yes, Denis Howell - remember him? - always holidayed locally (Paignton, I think) and was often seen at Plainmoor in August.
Incidentally, I don't know if any of you historians can help me here (of course you can!) but I believe that Mansfield's notorious strikebreaker "Silver Birch", who was a sort of "flying scab", fetched up a few years later in Brixham, where he was made to feel unwelcome after his identity was revealed. Is this true or did I imagine it?
This vaguely rings bells but I'm not sure what it says about Brixham. I'd have thought there would have been widespread indifference unless sections of Brixham's expatriate community may have fingered him. The politics of those who move to South Devon would be a rather complex story I'd imagine.
Would trawlermen have supported the miners? I really don't know and, as I was living in Lancashire at the time, I'm of no use in commenting about local attitudes towards the events of 1984/85 (although I can guess in a few sorry cases).
Maybe it was Brixton rather than Brixham. An easy mistake to make!
Chesterfield is a solidly Old Labour town and hasn't had a single Tory on the Borough Council this century; Tony Benn was our MP for 13 years and when he left Labour tried to foist a Blairite carpet bagger on the town so Paul Holmes (not the son of Albert) was elected for the Liberal Democrats. Holmes was a decent local MP who was well to the left of the Labour government, and he held on till the last election when Labour re-took the seat against the national trend, probably as the result of Holmes being associated with some dodgy expenses claims. Since then Labour has also re-taken control of the Council.
Bolsover has returned Dennis Skinner since the year dot and NE Derbyshire is also solid Labour, but you wouldn't know any of this from the attitudes of the football fans who attend Sheffield Road. Sadly, football attracts the Sun-reading section of the local population and if you wanna hear reactionary opinions loudly expressed then the B2Net stadium on a Saturday is the place to be.
In fairness, though, we had Sian Massey running the line the week that Andy Gray and his mate had been taped saying that she should not be allowed to officiate because women don't understand the offside rule. She got a round of applause when she took her place in front of the stand and no-one sang "Get your tits out for the lads" which is, at least, a step forward from what would have occurred a few years ago. Now we just need to see what will happen when the first openly gay ref comes to town!
Maybe it was Brixton rather than Brixham. An easy mistake to make!
Is that the Brixton between Plymouth and Modbury?
Must be a few years since Brixton Miners Welfare played in the Plymouth & District League.
Well, no there aren’t any miners welfare clubs - as such - down this way but we’ve previously discussed Peasedown Miners Welfare (North Somerset coalfield) as historic opponents of various Torquay United teams.
Some of those SWPL clubs you’ve been studying - St Dennis and Foxhole Stars - are from china clay country in Cornwall. Nearby Bugle and Nanpean played in the old SW League with Roche being another prominent club in that area. They say football was the preferred sport of the clay workers in Cornwall; rugby that of the deeper mineral miners further west (I’m always sceptical about the claim that Argyle have all of Cornwall as their catchment area: in theory, yes, because there’s nobody else; in practice I think it’s more of an East Cornwall thing these days).
I’ve not inspected the facilities but there is a football pitch - and active club - at Lee Moor up in Devon’s china clay hills. In South Devon, Teign Village - built for quarry workers - has just celebrated its centenary and has a team in the South Devon League.
Keep wandering the moors though - there are loads and loads of celebrities out there - and not all of Ms Widdicombe's political persuasion.
There’s plenty of interesting mining history on Dartmoor - Stefano would be an excellent guide and will know all the best Italian-style cafes within the national park boundaries - and they’ve just started to pave the way for re-opening the tungsten mine at Hemerdon on the edge of the moor. The Tamar Valley - Morwellham and the Devon Great Consols Mine - is also worth a look. The recent waymarking, trail routes and car parks now make it very accessible even though I sense this has taken away some of the mystique about the place.
Bolsover has returned Dennis Skinner since the year dot and NE Derbyshire is also solid Labour, but you wouldn't know any of this from the attitudes of the football fans who attend Sheffield Road. Sadly, football attracts the Sun-reading section of the local population and if you wanna hear reactionary opinions loudly expressed then the B2Net stadium on a Saturday is the place to be. .
I think we know that the correlation between voting behaviour, political loyalty, opinion and outlook isn’t quite as strong as is often suggested. It’s quite possible that 80% of Chesterfield’s Labour voters agree with 80% of Torbay Tory voters over 80% of issues. There may also be some Tories with a more liberal outlook than some of those Labour voters, etc, etc.
But you’d notice some key differences between the political landscapes of the two areas; the main one revolving around the cultural and historical role of organised labour and the traditional working-class. Indeed, you’d probably find a quite different response in South Devon to the term “working-class”, what it means and what it once meant. It's probably not an expression that rolls so easily off the tongue in these parts.
Nonetheless an interesting side issue is the great historical strength of Co-op retailing (and other services) in Plymouth and South Devon. This was true when I was a kid and the Co-op continues to have a high profile to this day. I'm not sure if this is a quirk, a reflection upon Plymouth's social history or if it's linked to Westcountry Liberalism and non-conformism.
And what of local Liberalism? A form of anti-Toryism? A rejection of Labourism? A strong tradition and set of values in itself? Or a cry to say that, somehow, we’re different down here? Others may wish to comment even though we’ve been there before on this site.
But back to the issue of organised labour and class identity. This struck me recently visiting museums in Liverpool and Sheffield, each of which has sections about labour and working-class history - or, if you prefer (as I think I do), people’s history. By contrast, many museums and histories in the South West (with the possible exception of Plymouth and West Cornwall) are probably more likely to take a lords-and-ladies approach. In Torquay, for example, there’s been a lot of history written about the wealthy who popularised the town from the 19th century (they say the town was at the height of its powers in the ’sixties - the 1860s, that is) but very little about the people who serviced the needs of the rich. They would have moved from the villages of rural Devon (and further afield) to work as servants, build the houses, do the repairs, deliver supplies and all the rest. Their history is a fascinating one, yet to be written, and they are the forebears of many present Torquinians.
Another possible difference is the relatively widespread antipathy to virtually any form of politics or government. Nothing new in this and nothing unique either, especially at a time when this is said to be a national and international trend. But I’ve always thought this has been more evident in Devon and Cornwall in an almost frontier-like way; positive and to be welcomed in some ways; rather paranoid and blinkered in others.
And you may occasionally encounter an outlook that says “I’m no Tory and I don’t like them but, yes, I vote Conservative. It’s just common sense”. Likewise you may also hear people accusing anybody vaguely left-of-centre of getting “all political” when anything which is - er - political is discussed. Why, even on this august forum, the words “commie” and “socialist” get banded around by a small number of users to describe just about anybody who doesn’t believe in hanging ‘em, flogging ‘em, deporting ‘em or making ‘em even poorer. Sometimes it gets rather tetchy here but I must say that one or two of the old "reactionairies" (no names but they have PL postcodes) are absolute forum treasures and never too far away from not taking things entirely seriously.
But the thing you’ll hear most are the moans about the "bloody council" (especially in Torbay). I heard the same complaints when a teenager in 1972; I’d read them in the local paper when I used to pop back for games in 1992; I hear them as loud as ever in 2012. It doesn’t matter if the council is Tory or Lib Dem. Nor is there ever much distinction between elected members or paid officials. The view is invariably the same - regardless of truth or myth - and it’ll probably always be the case. It’s part of the culture and somewhat puts Torquay United in the shade as the national sport of Torbay.
A final difference may be that of regional identity. I would imagine that the identity (however defined) of Chesterfield is greater than that of Derbyshire which, in turn, is greater than that of being in the - you know (how can I put it?) - the Midlands. Maybe it’s partly defined as what it isn’t: not Yorkshire; especially not Nottinghamshire.
Here there's a certain connection to the idea of Devon even if there's a degree of suspicion about the similarity of the recently-created Devon flag to the colours of Argyle. But the South West/Westcountry thing is different again, albeit with umpteen definitions of what constitutes either area. These may range from the local media’s Devon, Cornwall (and parts of Somerset and Dorset) all the way through to the government’s (them again!) wider South West region which includes Tewkesbury, Salisbury and Christchurch. My advice would be to assume Devon and Cornwall unless indicated otherwise. Also assume an uneasy relationship with Cornwall within this equation. You’ll hear suspicion of London and a belief that the Westcountry is treated less fairly than all the other regions (and is, somehow, far more deserving). Again this is historic and we’re way beyond distinguishing between truth, perception and myth. But, go elsewhere, and you’ll hear exactly the same in the North East where the prevailing politics are rather different. Lastly be prepared for media messages that portray a picture of the majority of us living in the countryside with clear links to farming, fishing, tourism or the armed forces. That, it appears, is an aspect of our identity and self-image which excludes many of us.
And, for a thread that started with Totnes Town, we've not really got round to discussing TQ9 (save for that rogue from elsewhere in the South Hams)......
I recall a contributor to Football League Review, who had visited all 92 grounds at that time, referring to "the middle class atmosphere at Southport and Torquay" which, now I am more familiar with the town of Torquay, would only be true looking from the Cary Park side of the ground. Certainly it's a description well at odds with my perception of Plainmoor, which seems to be as working class a community as could be imagined.
I am sure that tribalism plays a large part in voting patterns since Torquay seems very solidly Tory even in areas which would, in Chesterfield, be just as definitely Labour. Ellacombe and Upton, for example, are the kinds of places which would almost certainly return Labour councillors in most Northern towns. There is clearly no socialist or left wing culture in South Devon so I guess it wouldn't ever occur to a lot of people not to vote Tory just as, up here, voting Labour tends to be taken for granted.
I stood as a Green candidate in last year's borough election. Lots of Labour folk said they were going to vote for me, but they can't have done so because I came 7th. (If I told you who came 8th it would seem like showing off, but they play in the same colour as Chesterfield Football Club!) The whole exercise was actually frustrating and quite depressing, to be honest, and has put me off party politics big time.
Now, about TQ9, which is where my love affair with Devon began. Do spill the beans...................