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Day Baggies' fans had to watch Tangye's reserves

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 16, 2014

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I WAS most intrigued with the articles on Tangye Bros. Ltd (April 5 and 12 editions).

Readers would be interested to know that, in addition to their manufacturing successes, the company ran a very active sports and social club, and in particular their football club. Their sports ground was situated on the Birmingham road directly opposite the West Bromwich Dartmouth cricket club ground.

I believe it was during the winter season on 1952-53 that a West Brom home match at the Hawthorns was postponed due to bad weather. So my father and I walked the 400 yards or so along the Birmingham road to watch the game on Tangye's football pitch. It was a reserve fixture against Kingsbury Colliery. The players must have been surprised as their attendance grew from single figures to over a hundred as frustrated Albion supporters stopped by and filled the path behind the Birmingham end of the goal. An added attraction was that Tangye's played in Albion colours.

The following Saturday I travelled to the ground on my own and watched the first team play against, I recall, Bryant Builders, who wore an Arsenal-type strip. In the early 1950s, Tangye's held a prominent mid-table position in the Premier division of the Birmingham Works A.F.A., and I was struck with fascination at their outside-right, named Rouse. He was a perfect image of my hero, Stanley Matthews, and he looked and played like him too.

I became besotted with the team and frequently attended their home matches. I somehow became their 'unofficial' ball boy and became known to the players. I was only ten years old at the time, and suffered with profound deafness which made communication difficult. Eventually, I was allowed to travel with the team in their work bus to away games such as Volvo Sports, Fisher & Ludlow, M&B, Kynoch, Dunlop Sports, Accles & Pollock and other venues for league and cup matches. I do wonder now how the players thought of me, perhaps believing me to be a relative of one of the team, but I was tolerated and enjoyed being with these adults.

It must have gone on for another season, which ended when West Brom won the FA Cup in May 1954.

The cup was on display one Saturday at the Dartmouth cricket ground. I had the nerve to lean over the barrier which surrounded the cup on the stand, and lifted it up in triumph, and almost dropped it! My mother later said I did not wash my hands for nearly a week.

I don't remember much about the Tangye cricket team which played, I believe, in the Birmingham Business House league, as I was frequently watching Dartmouth play. They had a good team too, the stoic opener Len Coombs, slow left-arm Ron Williams and the energetic fielding of Badel and Seddon. When play became tedious I would pop next door to watch the Alan Everitt team.

That same summer I was sent to a Grammar school for the deaf, having passed my 11-plus, the first lad to do so from the Day School for Deaf children in Gem Street, Gosta Green, now the site of the University Hall of Residence. I wonder if any of the players from 1952-4, if still alive, remember me, the deaf lad who acted as ball boy and unofficial team mascot? It would be great if a team photo of the football team of that era could be featured in a future issue of The Bugle?

For the record, on leaving school I played for my works team in the Walsall & District League. My debut match was against, yes you've guessed it, Kingsbury Colliery and I was at outside-right!

I am now retired to mid-Wales after an illustrious career in social work and then with the Church of England. I am still almost profoundly deaf but I get by. Those were such happy Saturdays with Tangye's!

Rev. Michael H. Sabell,

4 Llewelyn Close, Cilmery,

Builth Wells, Powys.

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