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Percy Freeman, Stourbridge FC hero of the swinging sixties

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

By Gavin Jones

  • Stourbridge FC, 1968. Standing: Aston, Sneyd, Green, Stowe, Duerdin, Stanley, Flannery.

  • Percy Freeman, with reporter Brian Marshall

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THE LATE 1960s were a great time for the Glassboys.

Stourbridge Football Club, among the oldest football clubs in the country having been founded way back in 1876, won both the Birmingham and Worcestershire senior cups in the '67/'68 season, and got to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup after knocking out higher-ranked Southern League opponents.

Thanks to Glenn Gwynne of Sedgley, we can share with you this photograph of that successful Stourbridge side, as printed in the club's yearbook, as they prepared to take on all comers in the following season.

Absent from the photo though is the previous season's Player of the Year, Percy Freeman. That's because he was such a success that he had been snapped up by West Bromwich Albion and was beginning a new life at the Hawthorns by this time.

Included in the club's yearbook was a feature on Percy, by local reporter Brian Marshall. Headed 'A Make or Break Season for Percy Freeman', it explained how he was now at a crossroads ...

"As incredible as it may now seem," wrote Marshall, "Percy Freeman, the Glassboys' former centre forward, was a candidate to make his first senior team appearance for West Bromwich Albion against Football League opposition in the Charity Shield game against Manchester City at Maine Road in August.

"Albion's manager Alan Ashman gave serious consideration to the selection but eventually ruled out the former Stourbridge player because of his lack of experience. Mr Ashman says:

"'It is quite obvious that he has the ability. In seven Central League games at the end of last season he scored seven goals. This is a good record by any standard. Now we are all hoping that with full time training he will develop into an even better player.'

"When I spoke to him recently at the Hawthorns," continues Brian Marshall, "he was full of praise for the way he had been treated at Stourbridge. He said that they had provided the opportunity for him to join the Football League club.

"He admitted that he still cannot believe his good fortune. Only last season he was playing for the Worcestershire junior side, Astwood Bank.

"Percy, who is the oldest player in the Football League who has not yet played in the competition, also holds another record. He is the heaviest forward in the four divisions – an asset which should be invaluable to him if he does win a first team spot."

Records show that Percy did go on to make the first team; though with Jeff Astle still in his prime, he only made three appearances. He was soon spirited away on a free transfer by Lincoln City – he was a Lincolnshire lad by birth – where he became a hero, scoring on his debut and leading the troubled club into one of its brighter periods.

Do you remember Percy Freeman, or the Glassboys side of that period? Write in, phone, pay us a visit or email gjones@blackcountry bugle.co.uk

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