IT WAS a pastime once enjoyed by millions across the nation as they huddled close to their wireless sets on a Saturday evening to hear the football results read out and cross-checked them with their pools coupon. Sometimes their numbers came up and one such winner was Mr N.W. Taylor of Willenhall who won back in 1950.
His framed cheque from Vernons Pools for £250.1s.4d was recently found by one of our readers in a charity shop. He bought it for its curiosity value and then got in touch with the Bugle.
Mr Taylor was indeed a lucky man. In this age of multi-million lottery jackpots, £250.1s.4d seems rather meagre but, taking into account how average earnings have changed over 64 years, it is worth around £20,000 at today's values.
Mr Taylor's lucky day was Saturday, 19 August, 1950, the opening day of the season. The results were as follows (try to imagine them being read by John Webster on Sports Report): Division One, Aston Villa 2 West Bromwich Albion 0, Burnley 0 Arsenal 1, Charlton Athletic 4 Bolton Wanderers 3, Chelsea 4 Sheffield Wednesday 0, Everton 3 Huddersfield Town 2, Manchester United 1 Fulham 0, Portsmouth 1 Middlesbrough 1, Stoke City 1 Newcastle United 2, Tottenham Hotspur 1 Blackpool 4, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Liverpool 0.
Division Two, Barnsley 1 Southampton 2, Bury 2 Leicester City 3, Grimsby Town 0 Cardiff City 0, Leeds United 3 Doncaster Rovers 1, Luton Town 2 Brentford 0, Notts County 0 Coventry City 2, Preston North End 2 Manchester City 4, Queens Park Rangers 1 Chesterfield 1, Sheffield United 0 Blackburn Rovers 3, Swansea Town 0 Birmingham City 1, West Ham United 3 Hull City 3.
Division Three North, Bradford Park Avenue 5 Barrow 0, Darlington 0 Rochdale 2, Gateshead 7 Accrington Stanley 0, Halifax Town 0 New Brighton 2, Hartlepools United 0 Crewe Alexandra 2, Lincoln City 2 Chester 1, Oldham Athletic 4 Rotherham United 5, Scunthorpe and Lindsey United 0 Shrewsbury Town 0, Southport 1 Carlisle United 0, Stockport County 3 Bradford City 1, Tranmere Rovers 7 York City 2, Wrexham 2 Mansfield Town 2.
Division Three South, Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic 1 Bristol City 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 2 Torquay United 2, Bristol Rovers 1 Swindon Town 0, Crystal Palace 0 Aldershot 2, Exeter City 0 Millwall 1, Gillingham 0 Colchester United 0, Ipswich Town 1 Northampton Town 1, Newport County 0 Nottingham Forest 2, Norwich City 2 Port Vale 0, Plymouth Argyle 2 Leyton Orient 1, Reading 2 Walsall 1, Southend United 5 Watford 1.
There are, perhaps, some forgotten names among those football clubs and it is interesting to compare the top flight teams of 64 years ago with those of today.
It was a day of mixed success for Black Country teams with the Wolves getting off to a winning start but Albion and Walsall both losing.
The first football pool was Littlewoods, started in 1923 with coupons distributed to fans at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground. Vernons Pools began in 1925, Zetters in 1933 and Brittens in 1946. The games were massively popular but were hit hard by the introduction of the National Lottery and participation fell from 10 million in 1994 to 700,000 by 2007.
In 2009 Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters Football Pools combined to form the Football Pools, a new business offering the traditional games.
Did you or anyone in your family ever enjoy a win on the Pools? Have you still got the prize cheque? What are your memories of football in days gone by? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.