JOHN Campbell, nowadays living in Whitchurch, Shropshire, sends in the football team photograph on the right, together with the following comprehensive background below. The team shown was the First XI of Cresconians Amateur Football Club from Langley, in season 1965/66.
“Whilst sorting out photographs from yesteryear I came across the enclosed soccer team photograph taken in 1966. It shows a Cresconian team prior to a senior cup final of the Birmingham and District AFA. Like many of my vintage I am amazed how quickly time has evaporated since our playing days.
“The photograph is of a very good team with some excellent players that just missed out in both the 1965/66 and 1966/67 seasons. Many in the team had spent our school years playing together which gave us an intuitive approach to the game.
Among our top players were Gordon Betteley, John Swallow, Roy Smallwood, Dave Bailey and the reliable agile keeper Bryan Wyton; these gave a strong spine to the team under the captaincy of evergreen Mick Abrahams.
“I recall the final at Bournville very well, the pitch was exceptional and we had the experience of playing on the surface the previous week against Bournville and finished winning and scoring 4 goals. It is well known that the Quaker firm Cadburys looked after their employees and provided first class facilities for their sporting pursuits. I remember in 1957 Aston Villa preparing for their Wembley Cup Final trained on this lush turf in order to familiarise themselves with an energy sapping surface.
In the Final against Silhill we lost 3-2, it was a day when we did not perform anywhere near our usual standard. As any player will tell you this makes losing even harder but true to the Cresconian name it was a 'growing experience.' “The following season the team finished runners up to Pencroft in the premier league with Dudley Old Boys finishing hot on our heels. Dudley had won the league for the previous 3 years. A few weeks before the end of the season we had a crucial match against a very strong Pencroft team at Bantock Park (Wolverhampton); it was a midweek fixture with an evening kick off. Towards the end of the game light was fading and it became difficult to pick up the flight of the ball. The score stood at 1-1, a final minute corner was awarded to Pencroft. I recall the flashing lights of the Public House and nearby traffic lights illuminated the corner taker. He swung over a high ball and the headed ball took two bounces and passed players on the line resulting in a 2-1 loss. The rest of the season we played 'catch up' to Pencroft who went on to win the league; this title was their first of four consecutive league titles.
Devoted “There were many quality people who devoted their time and efforts to the running of the football club. The late Vic Hale, whose name is synonymous with Cresconians, captained the team in the Fifties and gave more than forty years as secretary.
Norman Jones, who worked in tandem with Vic, has given in the region of fifty years to the club. Mick Abrahams, already mentioned, is still treasurer after a period approaching sixty years.
Others that come to mind include John Hartland, Barry Watts, Barry Hatfield, Bobby Gray, Ray Broaderwick. I could go on, so apologise to those I have not mentioned. As I have already stated the quality of the people involved with administration and the running of the club made playing for the Crescs. fulfilling.
“In October 2008 the Birmingham District AFA celebrated their centenary with a dinner held at the County ground Edgbaston and participating clubs and players past and present attended the function. Tributes were paid to the administrators of all clubs, it resonated with me how others equally valued the contribution made by their respective soccer clubs. It was obvious from conversations that as players we merely had to turn up on Saturdays and enjoy the game. The function provided the opportunity to mix with players of long ago and in particular I caught up Frank (Billy) Webb, who, a fine player himself, escaped the clutches of Vic Hale, and played for Causeway Green Swifts on leaving school. I regard Frank as the one who got away, all these years later Frank is still involved with his club at committee level like Norman and Mick; they not only enjoyed playing but have given service that has enabled others to continue playing.
“Each week photographs in the Sports section of the Bugle are evidence of the contribution made by administrators and those who assist in the running of the sports teams; their efforts promote camaraderie among team players and an opportunity to play the game skilfully and in the right spirit. They are proof of the adage 'If you give of your money then you give of your wealth. If you give of your time then you give of your life.’”