This article I’m about to write is not an autobiography in any way, this is an account of some of my sporting memories as I was growing up and all that. As you’ll read on, I shall try and remember as much as I can! So, I hope you are all sitting comfortably.
I suppose the first thing I can tell you is this; I didn’t have the slightest bit of interest in any kind of sport whatsoever. I was about 9 years of age when I was watching the telly with my Dad one day. He put the TV on one Saturday afternoon and he turned the channel onto ITV. At around 4pm that afternoon the wrestling was on in collaboration with TV’s World Of Sport. I have to confess to a large extent that I never watched any wrestling before then. I watched a few bouts over the coming weeks and months with my Dad and as the weeks went by, I was hooked from then onwards. The first bout that I ever saw was between Les Kellet and Leon Arras (Brian Clover). That bout was laughter all the way. Les Kellet won the bout, 2 falls to 1. I continued watching wrestling all the time and I’m still watching it today.
I can just about recall my first live wrestling show. It was around 1979 at the York Rugby League Ground. It was quite a good bill to say the least. Some of the well-known wrestling stars were on the bill. I can remember watching Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks in a tag match, Big Daddy won that bout but I can’t remember who his tag partner was. Anyway, I think I was around 16 years old at the time. One of the wrestlers called Jim Breaks was trying to chat my Mum up. Me and mum were sat on the touch-line and Jim came over and sat next to my Mum. Well, he couldn’t stop talking to her. To cut long story short, Jim said: “Wait there while I finish my bout.” After the show. Me and Mum walked on the pavement to get a taxi back home. Then, all of a sudden, we heard a very loud “Beeb Beeb.” It was none other than Jim Breaks pulling over in his car. He very gently wound his window down. He said to my Mum: “Could I have your phone number, please?” Then, my Mum said: “No, I haven’t got one.” Then, I said: “Yes, she has.” Again, to cut a long story short, the next day, the telephone rang. And guess what? It was Jim Breaks! He was wrestling in Scarborough the following evening and he was going to pick my Mum up to go to the show and watch Jim wrestle but my Mum in the end turned him down. I shall never forget that night in a hurry – neither will my Mum, I don’t think! There was more to that story, but I don’t want to be long-winded over it!
However, my main passion as a young lad was football. But before I go into that in a bit more detail, you’ll see how my interest in soccer began, so to speak. At around when was 10, Christmas was very much a happy time in the Chadwick household. I lived with Mum, Dad and my three Brothers and one Sister. We always looked forward to Christmas – at least I did! On Christmas Eve, I couldn’t get a wink of sleep all night long. My heart used to beat ten to the dozen as I could not wait to open my Christmas presents. I always remember my Dad putting our huge Christmas Tree up – with the help of my Mum: it had every Christmas decoration on it you could think of! Like I said, it was a huge tree. It had a pride of place in the front room as it stood by the window. Mum used to close the curtains at the back of our tree as she thought it looked more relaxed and cosier, especially when all the Christmas lights went on. So, you can probably gather my favourite Christmas presents was anything to do with football! I am not kidding you. I can remember my parents buying me almost – and nearly – every football game out there in the shops. I had one called Super Striker, Johnny Hot Shot and few other games to boot. I played with them for hours on end on the floor in our front room with our big open-fireplace blaring away! The best part about the festive season was our Christmas dinner. My Dad helped Mum cook it and one of my Dad’s “trademarks” was making a big massive portion of mash potato in a big silver cooking-pot, it was filled to the rafters! We always invited a friend of my Dad’s — a chap called Michael “Mick” Woods. Mick lived with his parents (Hilda and Bert) at 6 Church Road, Osbaldwick, York. Both Mick’s parents were keen York City fans and this is where my live football began to come to fluctuate, as it were.
One day in 1973, I was asked by Mick if I would like to go to a football match at Bootham Crescent (the home of York City). So, without doubt, I agreed. Before I went to a match, Mick use to pick my up from my home where I lived with Mum and Dad (and my Brothers and Sister) in Danesfort Avenue, in York. I forgot to mention that earlier, by the way, when we all spent Christmas together. I have to confess (as Mick drove to his parent’s house) that Mick’s parent’s front room was quite a big one. Mick used drive me to their house before a match. I remember Mick’s Dad (Bert) watching The ITV Seven – horse racing – on TV’s World Of Sport on a massive 26-inch colour TV at the front of their house-window. Bert used to sit in his arm-chair eating a few biscuits while we was drinking a mouthful of tea that Hilda made for him. Mick also used to pop around the local fish ‘n’ chip shop in Osbaldwick and bring them back to his parent’s house. Hilda used to then warm them up in the oven then I got stuck into them: we always had dinner there before I went to a match.
So, after dinner was over, off to Bootham Crescent we all went. I can’t remember anything about my first match I went to see; I was only 10 at that time in my life! I do remember – quite vividly though – one of the City players receiving the Club man Of The Year Award, which went to Phil Burrows in 1973. I have to be honest and say that he was my favourite player within the City’s side. Phil started playing for City in 1965 until 1973. He was a great tackler and he played in the position at left back. I can remember by this time City were in Division Four and at this period in time and they were having a good run in the league. They started to win a lot of matches in succession — nearly without conceding a few goals. Anyway, this was thanks to Graeme Crawford – City’s goalkeeper. He was born in Falkirk in 1947, he played for them for a little while. Then after playing with his native club, he then went to play for Sheffield United but I heard he didn’t play to well for them. Then Graeme played for York City on loan. York City’s Manager (Tom Johnston) spotted Graeme’s potential and from 1971 to 1977, Graeme played in every match in the Second Division as City got promoted from Division 3. In that Second Division period, Graeme kept a clean sheet in 11 consecutive matches without conceding a goal. One has to say, that is a truly remarkable record with any doubt! There was other great players in the side too!
I must give a mention to one of the other prominent players in the City side. I can’t forget James “Jimmy” Seal. I don’t know an awful lot about Jimmy. I do know, however, that he played for Wolves and Barnsley and in 1972, he joined York City. I can remember that Jimmy didn’t start to well in the first part of the season. However, he quickly established himself in his second season with City. He was top scorer with 17 goals and his formidable roll in defence along side Chris Jones was a superb formula: I think he only missed one match in that season. I’ll always remember Jimmy for his long blonde hair which reached down to his shoulders and his skill to dribble and run with the ball was a bit of a trademark; he was also a firm favourite with the fans! After finishing with City, Jimmy went onto play for Darlington and he made 122 league appearances for the club. After he had retired from football, Jimmy hung his boots up for good. He embarked on becoming a painter and decorator, I think he worked for himself but I’m not sure.
At this point in my life, I seriously began to lose an interest in football though. In the early 70’s, I put it down to this. There seemed to be a lot of hooliganism in the sport and I have to say to this day, that put me right off! For me personally, it gave a bad reputation for the game and I hardly watched another game since! So, I decided that I would “fall in love” with another sport. I shall come onto that now.
One Friday evening, I was just watching the box with my Dad. He turned the channel over on BBC2. Just after the news had been on, Pot Black was just starting. This was a snooker tournament played at Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham. It featured some of the top snooker starts, as it were. The show was first broadcast in 1969 where Ray Reardon – I think – beat John Spencer in the final of that year. This was the very first time that snooker had been shown in colour on television, so to speak. Pot Black itself ran from 1969 to 1985. The format was quite simple really. Pot Black would have a half-an-hour slot on every Friday evening. Each of the players would be split up into their various “groups” and they would play just a one-frame format — the frame (and the programme) would last 30 minutes. The next frame would be played the following Friday and this was how the formula would be played until the tournament would reach the Final. I remember in 1974 — Graham Miles defeated John Spencer 2 frames to 1: That Final was played over 3 frames. One has to say – without Pot Black – snooker would not be where it is today!
So, to my first live snooker match. I can remember it vividly. At around 1978, I saw an exhibition match at York University against Ray Reardon and John Spencer. As far as I can recall, Ray lost his way a little bit to the venue so the match itself started a bit late. I don’t remember too much about the match – except – that there was some very good tactical and safety play. I can’t remember who won but after the match, both players played a few trick shots to round off the evening.
Well, I was living away from home after I’d left college, I moved to South Wales. The place was run by Scope, it was a residential hostel called Mena House. While I lived there, I went to my second live snooker match. I had the great honour of seeing my sporting idol in action: Alex Higgins; he was playing Jimmy White at some sports arena in Cardiff for the Senator Trophy for two nights. I arrived by taxi on the second night – the frame-score was 7-5 to Jimmy. There was some great snooker played but Jimmy ran out the winner in the end — 13-12. After the match, both players were signing autographs and I managed to get Alex’s as I pushed my way through a great big queue!
There was one ambition in snooker that always wanted to for-fill – to see Alex Higgins play live in the World Snooker Championships at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. I was lucky enough to do so. By 1985, I was living in Buxton near Derbyshire. Again, it was run by Scope – it was another residential home called The Bedford. In April of that year, I went with a group of residents at the Crucible to see Alex face Terry Griffiths in the second round to see the evening session: the score was 9 frames to 7 in favour of Terry. Once again, there was some great snooker being played by both players but Terry got the upper-hand during the match as the last few frames were being played: Terry ran out the winner by 13-7.
I would like to close this article and I thank you all for reading this. It has been a great pleasure for me to share with you just some of my sporting memories and I thank you all once again!