RIP Pete Waddington

Pete Waddington (right) with the 1963 haul of trophies for Fryston Colliers FC

Pete Waddington (right) with the 1963 haul of trophies for Fryston Colliers FC

We are very sorry to report news of the death of Pete Waddington. He died on Wednesday 27 May 2015. Pete is the father of Professor Dave Waddington and the inspiration for the book Coal, Goals and Ashes. Pete captained the Fryston Colliery team to victory in the WRCC Cup in 1963 and the book is a loving tribute to this great achievement – by Pete, his colleagues and the whole village of Fryston.

The funeral takes place at the Holy Cross church, Airedale, at 1-45 on 17 June 2015.

>>Click here to see a trailer for Coal, Coals and Ashes
>>Click here to see the 50th anniversary presentation ceremony for the heroes of 1963

Backbone of the Strike

Backbone-of-the-strike

Women – ‘the Backbone of the Strike’
Dave Waddington
(Written for programme for the play Queen Coal, staged at Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, Autumn 2014)

Two years after the ‘orderly return to work’ which signalled the end of the year-long miners’ strike, I formed part of a team of researchers from the former Sheffield Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) which set out to examine the social impact of the dispute on the residents of mining communities in South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire [footnote]. We paid particular attention in our study to the experience of female adults in these villages, and we very quickly realised that, far from occupying a peripheral role in the conflict, the efforts of such women were arguably more vital than those of their men-folk, both in maintaining the miners’ struggle and in representing the case against pit closures.

‘Women were the backbone of the strike’ was how one striking Yorkshire pit canteen worker put it. ‘Women run a house, don’t they?’ she rhetorically asked. ‘They do the shopping and therefore they’ve got to make ends meet, whether it’s a hundred pounds coming in or ten pounds. I’ve got a big freezer and it was full to the top over Christmas and I felt like saying to Maggie Thatcher, “Come and have a look at this, all due to family and friends,” because I feel she thought she could starve us. Maybe she thought the women would push their husbands back to work, but it didn’t work that way, did it?’

In keeping with her day job, this woman was instrumental in setting up a community soup kitchen for strikers and their families. Other local women engaged in such equally important activities as collecting donations of food and money, holding raffles, going on demonstrations or attending picket lines. Not long into the dispute, they were joined by sympathetic women living outside of the locality, as Women’s Support Groups or Women’s Action Groups evolved in support of the strike. Regardless of the extent of their activism, the wives of striking miners underwent the kind of year-long ‘crash course in reality’ which forced them to question the fairness of key social and political institutions, and to reappraise their own self-worth and social positions as women.

Sometimes the lessons they received were especially harsh or unsavoury. Miners’ wives out walking at night with husbands who had never strayed close to a picket line found themselves taunted as ‘slags’ and ‘whores’ by marauding bands of locally billeted police officers, from ‘outside’ forces like Greater Manchester and (most notoriously of all, the Metropolitan Police), who were hell-bent on humiliating their menfolk or, better still, goading them into receiving a ‘good thumping’.

Such women saw at first-hand how ‘good, honest local men’ were being fined, sent down and subjected to debilitating curfews – often on the flimsiest and most unreliable of evidence – by a judicial system that seemed intent on sapping the collective morale. They were further incensed by media coverage of picket-line confrontation (such as television reporting of the so-called Battle of Orgreave) which habitually underplayed the police part in any violence that occurred. ‘They were definitely biased against us,’ the wife of one Yorkshire miner complained. ‘My husband was at Orgreave on the Monday and he came home and he felt ill. He said he’d seen the police on horseback ride over these five men and all you’d seen on television was men throwing wood and stones.’

Women activists who dared to step outside traditional gender roles by attending picket lines were in for an especially rude awakening. Police officers immediately set about ‘defeminising’ them as the ‘belt and braces brigade’. One heavily-pregnant picket was asked by a smirking police constable: ‘Who’d want to breed off a cow like you?’ Attitudes to the police were correspondingly and irretrievably transformed. As a member of one Derbyshire WSG explained, ‘To people outside of mining communities, many of them down south, these policemen were doing a wonderful thing. And there you are having your brains knocked out but, because you’re a miner on strike or because you’re a miner’s wife and you’re picketing, then you bloody well deserved it.’

It was not only female activists who began to re-evaluate their political standpoints. Dozens of the women we interviewed disclosed how they had developed far more sympathy towards those gay and lesbian communities which had been so wonderfully supportive of the strike. They also acknowledged a much closer affinity with other ‘oppressed’ groups, such a black African miners and British ethnic minorities. Reflecting on her own experience as a soup kitchen attendant, one Yorkshire woman remarked that one regular donor, ‘He was a Pakistani, gave boxes and boxes of food and he said, “The miners are treated like the scum of the earth and we feel for the miners because we’ve had the same treatment.”’

Feminist optimism that the experience of those men who took on more housework during the strike might induce a lasting realignment of gender roles was confounded by our evidence. While a minority of women maintained that the domestic division of labour had shifted in their favour, there was a much wider consensus of opinion that things had reverted to a pre-strike normality – albeit one that now involved a much greater recognition and appreciation of the importance of women’s unpaid labour. Any ‘emancipation’ of women resulting from the miners’ strike was most vividly reflected in those cases of individuals entering local politics, paid work, or further or higher education. Broader, yet more subtle changes were detectable in the growing tendency for women to be more assertive in their views and no longer be prepared to have their questions about work and trade union matters to be dismissed as ‘men’s business’. A small minority of marriages failed to survive the tensions caused by inevitable hardship, by variations in each partners’ commitment, or by disagreements concerning women’s role in the strike. However, most married couples reported that the strike had undoubtedly strengthened their relationship.

Few of the female strike supporters we interviewed regretted having participated in the dispute, and fewer still regarded the outcome as an unqualified ‘defeat’. It was almost universally maintained that the heroic rear-guard action of the miners and their families would prove inspirational to future political activists and that their struggle would surely be immortalised. The prevailing view was encapsulated in the stirring words of one Yorkshire woman who told us, ‘Well, I think a lot of people probably think, “Oh, well, was it worth it? ”, “Why did it happen? ” and “I lost a year’s money and for what? ” But I think the more intelligent kind of person would realise that it wasn’t all wasted; that it was all part of a continuing process; that if you just give in all the time over everything, then you just get more and more oppressed… I mean, it’s like when soldiers go to war and they say, “How can war be great?” But it’s not the war itself and killing people: it’s the comradeship that you’re all together and you’ve left those daily pressures that get you down behind. It’s like being in a free situation.’

[fn.] Our results were published in the form of a jointly-authored book, Split at the Seams? Community, continuity and change after the 1984-5 coal dispute, by David Waddington, Maggie Wykes and Chas Critcher with Sandra Hebron (Open University Press, 1991).

David Waddington
Professor of Communications
Head of the Communication & Computing Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University
Author: Coal, Goals and Ashes

From The Pit To The Pinnacle

Dave Waddington

Forget eye-watering salary bills, flash cars and WAGS, author David Waddington tells about the Yorkshire footballers who really summed up the spirit of the beautiful game. ‘From The Pit To The Pinnacle’ – a feature on Coal, Goals and Ashes in the Yorkshire Post.

Given the chance, the world of public relations would have a field day with the West Riding County Football Association Cup.

It’s not exactly snappy title for a club competition and even as an acronym it’s unpronounceable. What it needs is a rebrand and perhaps a high-profile sponsor to lend a bit of glamour.

However, back in 1963, when football’s greatest extravagance was a couple of half-time cigarettes, the world was a very different place and at the end of that season victory in the cup for Fryston Colliery Welfare, a humble Second Division team, would provide a fitting final chapter in a true David and Goliath story. To the 11 men who turned out that day, the WRCFAC was the equivalent of holding aloft the FA Cup at Wembley.

David Waddington is not sure whether he was at the match or not. He may well have been as his father, Peter, was captain, so he often spent his weekends on the sidelines. Even if he wasn’t, he’s heard so much about the game and the team’s surprise triumph over out-and-out favourites, Bradford’s Thackley FC, that he’s lived every one of the 90 minutes a hundred times over.

A few years ago, realising the 50th anniversary of the biggest victory in the club’s history was approaching, David thought it might be nice to produce a commemorative programme of the game, including a few memories from the players, who had once been drawn from the thousand or so miners who worked down the village pit.

However, David soon realised that the story of Fryston Colliery Welfare’s day in the sun deserved more than a few pages of a local newsletter.The story of that one small Yorkshire club blossomed into Coal, Goals and Ashes, a book which is as much a social history of a Yorkshire pit village and a glimpse back in time to when football was truly a working class game as it is a chronicle of an individual club.

‘When I started out on this project, my motivation was purely personal,’ admits David, professor of communications at Sheffield Hallam University. ‘I was six- years-old when Fryston won the cup and I really wanted to record the events of that day for my dad. But as I began to interview more of his fellow players I realised that they had a real story to tell, not just about that particular season, but about how life used to be. Someone once said that the people of Fryston’s whole world revolved around the village boundaries, many of them rarely even crossing the bridge to Castleford. They were right and that exact same spirit of togetherness manifested itself in the football team. Fryston was socially isolated, the working life was hard, and I think that toughness came out in the spirit in which they played the game.’

The story of Coal, Goals and Ashes (to explain the title would, says David, ‘spoil the final chapter of the book.’) features a benevolent pit manager who prized his workers’ welfare alongside productivity, a veteran hero in a man named Freddie Howard who would return to be Fryston’s lethal weapon on cup day and an entire side who while they may have harboured dreams of being spotted by a Walter Winterbottom or an Alf Ramsey, were also happy to play simply for the camaraderie and the promise of a post-match table reservation at the local social club.

It also follows the history of people whose fortunes were tied so closely to the colliery which was already struggling to break even. It finally closed in the 1980s.

‘These were the days when a side was reliant not on any scientific or systematic coaching regimes, but on natural skill and the spirit of togetherness,’ says David. ‘Back then the training, if it happened at all, consisted of a few stretching exercises, a couple of laps around the field and few shots at goal. Even on match days there was not any particular talk of tactics.

‘However, these players knew each other inside out. They were had either been born in Fryston or worked or lived there and most could tick all three boxes.’

While for the most part, the lives of the Fryston players revolved around the pit during the week and the often waterlogged football pitches at the weekend, the team did have an occasional brush with the big time.

‘During the war among the many Bevin Boys conscripted to work down the mines rather than being sent off to the front line were a number of the country’s top footballers,’ says David. ‘I guess it was thought to be a slightly safer occupation and eight ended up at Fryston, including the legendary Bradford Park Avenue player Len Shackleton.’

Shackleton, who was the original showboater, would later play for both Newcastle and Sunderland and his skill along with that of the other footballing Bevin Boys left a lasting impression on the Fryston side.

‘A couple of the players were talent spotted by some of the bigger clubs,’ says David. ‘However, one turned down an offer to move full-time to Halifax Town in a favour of a part-time contract so he could continue to play with his friends in the village, while another of Fryston’s stars, Freddie Howard, packed in an opportunity with York City because he said the 20-minute train ride from Castleford was too far to travel.’

Howard was to be the star of that cup final in 1963. By then a veteran who had been out of the squad for some time, he was drafted back in as an emergency measure. While Thackley FC might have been the superior side on paper, Howard, dressed in the club’s traditional blue and white strip, scored a winning goal which the Bradford players would remember for ever.

‘One of the players told me they could have beaten England that night,’ says David. ‘And you know what, I reckon they probably could.’

Click here for more on Coal, Goals and Ashes.

 Click here to read the article on the Yorkshire Post website.

 

Heroes Reunited

The heroes from Fryston Collieries and Thackley FC reunite, fifty years on from the cup final celebrated in Coal, Goals and Ashes. They all get presented with a book by Dave Waddington.

Dave Waddington’s Coal, Goals and Ashes: Fryston Colliery’s Pursuit of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup, is a story of sporting heroism and romance from the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield.

Click here to watch a short trailer for the book

Click here for more on Coal, Goals and Ashes.

Coal Goals and Ashes

Coal, Goals and Ashes

Publication Day: Coal, Goals and Ashes: Fryston Colliery’s Pursuit of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup
by David P. Waddington

IT WAS FIFY YEARS AGO TODAY. On 22 May 1963, a group of men representing Fryston Colliery Welfare ran out against the much-vaunted Bradford team, Thackley AFC, to contest the final of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup, the ‘ultimate prize’ for local amateur teams.

1. Harold ‘Archie’ Ward (goalkeeper)
2. Brian Wood (right-back)
3. Jack Sharp (left-back)
4. Johnny Appleyard (right-half)
5. Harold ‘Agga’ Mattison (centre-half)
6. Peter Waddington (left-half and captain)
7. Barry ‘Cobbo’ Robinson (outside-right)
8. Terry Templeman (inside-right)
9. Freddie Howard (centre-forward)
10. Cliff Braund (inside-left)
11. Trevor Ward (left-wing)

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the final, the author, academic and son of The Colliers’ captain, Dave Waddington, has produced a book that tells the story of a century of footballing exploits by a team from the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield. This is an account of ‘bread and butter’ contests, where the slope of the pitch and the strength of the wind are important factors in results, where ‘unnecessary roughness’ is all part of the game. It is an account of a group of working men from one small village, whose endeavours in pursuit of the ‘ultimate prize’ are revealed to be just as extraordinary as those of their supposedly more illustrious contemporaries of the professional game.

Armed with three years’ worth of research in local archives, and interviews with the surviving players from the final, Waddington has used all the academic discipline he can muster to try and provide an objective and dispassionate account, both of the final and of the wider history of the club. What has emerged, however, is a story of sporting heroism and romance, where the names of heroes like Dick and Jabie Foulkes, Archie Ward, Jack Sharp, Agga Mattison, Cobbo Robinson and Freddie Howard resonate just as loudly as those of the professional icons, such as Clem Stephenson, Len Shackleton, John Charles and Stanley Matthews, who we also encounter along the way.

With a Foreword by Ian Clayton.

David Waddington is Professor of Communications at Sheffield Hallam University, where he has been employed for over thirty years. During this time, he has been a keen student of industrial relations in the coal industry, the policing of public protest, and the impact of pit closures on Britain’s mining communities.

Coal, Goals and Ashes: Fryston Colliery’s Pursuit of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup
by David P. Waddington

Published by Route
Hardback  :  Kindle
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Coal Goals and Ashes