HOPES are high that the celebrated name of Darlaston Town FC, nicknamed the Citizens after their City Ground, can be saved and one of those that attended the recent meeting about reviving the club was Colin Pritchard of Bradmore, Wolverhampton. Colin has a special link with the club as his father kept goal for them in the late 1940s.
Colin has a host a memorabilia from his father’s playing days, including the original contract he signed with Darlaston in September 1947. Then, the club agreed to pay Benjamin Ivan Pritchard £2 per match which, when compared with average earnings, is equivalent to £176 today.
Benjamin played football for the RAF during his wartime service and Colin has a picture of his father and teammates taken in Calcutta in February 1945.
Demobbed and back home, Benjamin signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he played in the third XI and understudied the legendary Bert Williams.
Colin did not have many details of his father’s career with Wolves until he had a meeting with Bert Williams, who told him his father played in the Birmingham and District League, representing Wolves against the likes of Dudley, Stourbridge and other local clubs.
Researching at the local archives, Colin found a match report in which Wolves played Darlaston and his father saved a penalty. Colin believes that it was this performance that brought his father to the attention of Darlaston and led to him signing for the club. But Benjamin only played for Darlaston for a couple of seasons as his growing family meant he had to give up the game and find more permanent employment. But it was football that led to him getting a job.
At first he worked for Courtaulds but he later found himself unemployed. He knocked on the doors of various Wolverhampton businesses until he got to Butler’s Springfield brewery.
“He asked if they had any driving jobs,” tells Colin, “but they said they hadn’t. They then asked if he played football and when he told them he was a goalkeeper they took him on because they needed a ’keeper for their team. At first they had him painting furniture and later he moved on to driving.”
Readers may remember Colin’s brother Paul Pritchard, who captained Bushbury Old Boys for many years. Sadly, Paul, who worked for the West Midlands Ambulance Service, recently died, just a few weeks short of his 65th birthday.