Diary Dates for the 2019-2020 Season
A Forgotten Tiger
Following our Annual Meeting we settled down for another memorable conversation with an Ex-Tiger, but on this occasion an almost ‘Forgotten Tiger’. TOM MATHERS was a goalkeeper during the 1950’s but he never made a senior debut. Tom had the misfortune of being understudy to the legendary Billy Bly. The Tom we were introduced to bore no grudge or complaint but revealed himself as a wonderful, generous gentleman. Our members were quickly endeared to him.
On this occasion the interview with Tom was by our good friend, David Bond. David soon had Tom talking and we found out that he was a East Hull lad, born in 1937 in Walcott Street. He survived the Second World War but not before he and the family were twice bombed out. Eventually they had moved to Woodcock Street. At 11 years Tom had joined the Boulevard Boxing Club and from time to time he would be offered a pass to go and watch the Tigers. That led to him also playing the game, usually as a full back. He’d tried playing in goal but didn’t like it. Too much diving about in the mud! At 12 he was playing in the Senior Boys League for Somerset Street School and Pickering Amateurs.
Later, having started working in a signal box on the railways, he was “invited” for youth trials with Hull City - as a goalkeeper. A month later he received a card from Bob Brocklebank at the club saying “you’re playing at Sheffield Wednesday for the Yorkshire League! They were then promoted to the Midland League and were up against teams like Peterborough United & Boston United, made up of seasoned old pro’s. He remembered losing 7-0 (three down after 15 minutes!) and said he was “absolutely heart broken”. He was clearly doing something good and was even selected for an Amateur International whilst City offered him trials for the professional team. During those trials Billy Bly was an excellent encourager for him. Bly even taught him how to dive at a player’s feet but when he tried it out at Dulwich Hamlet he was taken off with concussion!
At City they had up to seven goalies to cover their four teams so competition was fierce. He recalled Bernard Fisher who eventually replaced Billy Bly and spoke with great admiration for Viggo Jensen who he described as a “wonderful player and a pianist”. When Jensen retired the club apparently bought him a grand piano!
Tom is very generous and freely admitted that “there were better goalkeepers than me”. He mentioned how Raich Carter had watched him play at Costello and offered him advice should the football option not come about. He was just appreciative of the kindness. He may never have become a pro’ but, as he said, “I’m a Tiger and a Tiger I will always be!” Huge round of applause.
Following his time with City he went on to play for Bridlington Central before moving to play for Wilson Line. They then decided only employees should play for their team!
Having started work in the Signal Box he would then become a Blacksmith’s Striker before eventually joining the British Transport Police in 1959 when he was 22 years old. Soon he opted to work as a dog handler and spent over 26 years working with dogs for Transport Police. He also played football for the police until he broke his ankle.
Later career saw him work as a Red Cross Ambulance Driver before he joined Hull University to do a job on the switchboard. They then discovered that Tom was a quality calligrapher and the University invited him to do all the calligraphy for their honours and awards. He recalled with pride doing the honorary degree for Desmond Tutu. In time the university appointed him as Assistant Beadle and he take great privilege on parading at the Cenotaph among all those “brave heroes”.
Later he joined the HRI as a volunteer working in support of dementia patients and the Elderly Assessment Centre. Last month he did an incredible 85 hours and was recently given an Award of the DME Star. Tom clearly loved serving the elderly – oblivious to the fact that he is himself nearly 82!
Finally, another side of Tom was also revealed. He is an excellent singer. With a rich Tenor voice he has sung with the Police choir, the Savoyards and local Male Voice Choir and soon he broke out into full voice, singing “If you want to hear the Boothferry roar ....”
Our thanks to Tom. What a wonderful gentleman. Thanks also to Dave Bond for steering the conversation that has got the Senior Tigers off to a wonderful new season.
Tom Mathers and David Bond entertaining a good turnout of Senior Tigers for the AGM and our guests
Presentations to Pat Betts and Barbara Wilkinson for their hard work supporting Senior Tigers' acivities last season
Summary Report from our September, 2019, Members’ Meeting
Another huge turnout saw our new season off to a flyer. Once again the football club had done us the wonderful honour of providing a Buffet Luncheon – a truly excellent spread enjoyed by all our gathered members. Our Chair, David, then introduced our meeting and giving a particular welcome to our guest speaker – JON BEALE, the Head of our Tiger’s Academy at Bishop Burton College. Jon had not come alone. He delighted us all by bringing one of the true rising stars of the future, KEANE LEWIS-POTTER.
Jon was asked about his early years and told us that he was a Swansea boy throughout he childhood/youth until the call to come over to Hull and help develop our expanding Academy. As a young lad he had played rugby (union down there!), cricket and football whilst his sister went on to represent Great Britain in Karate. In his mid-teens he realised that he would never make the grade playing football yet wanted above all else to be involved in the game. He took up coaching and following University began a career as a sport’s teacher. Two years later Tony Pennock recruited him to the Academy team at Swansea City and Jon had his dream career in football. Tony and Jon saw their club move from Category 3 to Category 2 status, developing what they had done into a much larger opportunity including sport’s science. Jon, meanwhile, had been taking his coaching qualifications and was among the youngest to gain his EUFA A Licence. There is only one level above that, the UEFA Pro Licence and Jon is working hard towards that qualification with hopes of achieving it in the next 12/15 months.
Keane was then asked about his background and he was clearly chuffed to identify himself as a local East Hull lad. When it was suggested that East Hull only played Rugby League it drew a quick response from the gathered – “not very well!” Jon was quick to avoid any chance on being drawn into that ‘tribal’ battle! Keane had played for Hessle Rangers and Costello before the opportunity to have City trials came his way. He was quickly invited to join the Academy structure as a 13 year lad. Asked about making his 1st team debut earlier this year he said how privileged he felt to pull on the shirt and represent the Tigers at the Lion’s Den – the FA Cup tie at Millwall. Last season Keane had been loaned out to Bradford Park Avenue to gain some experience and although he played mainly off the bench it had been a real help to him.
Jon shared how challenging it had been to leave South Wales and all his family to make to move to Hull with Tony Pennock. They had come with a purpose, to get our City Academy promoted to Category 2, something which they duly achieved. With changes to the first team coaching team Tony found himself drafted into a new role and Jon was then invited to step up and become the Head of the Tiger’s Academy. The structure sees boys as young as 7 years coming under their support and having regular training nights. Only when they can join the Under 9’s can the lads be formally signed on to the Academy. As well as the main centre on the campus of Bishop Burton College they also have satellite outposts in places like Grimsby, Selby & York. 9-11’s must, however, live within 60 minutes of the Academy, 12-16’s within 90 minutes whilst they can recruit 18’s+ nationally and 23’s internationally. There are currently 26 places in the full-time Academy including one current vacancy.
The Academy has a full time team of coaches, physios (3), sport’s scientists (4) plus part-time scouts.
With the younger lads they maintain a strong connection with their school. Good behaviour and academic progress is important and whilst they may be allowed to come into the academy for some days it is always on the proviso that they do not fall behind on their school work. The full time boys will be required to continue with the education beyond football. Many will study for BTec qualifications whilst others will be encouraged to study for their EUFA C Licence and we have a 100% pass rate for this over the past 5 years. That received a warm round of applause. Jon also talked about the philosophy at the Academy that boys must look forwards to coming in – each day. He wants them to feel that every day is another Christmas Day!
Keane was to receive a number of questions from the members. Was he well looked after by the Senior Pros when he joined the fist team squad? Definitely. Did he have to take on club chores? He admitted that he had learned how to mop – at which point Jon revealed that he had learned the hard way after mopping before he swept the floor and then mopping down from the door inwards and then not knowing how to get back out of the room!
Jon revealed that scouts are always watching the local Sunday Leagues and keeping eyes on late developers to ensure that talent is not being missed. Last season had not been successful in terms of results, they finished bottom of their league but the real success had to be measured in terms of player development with a number of players training on and playing with the senior squads. Jon declared that bringing players through the ranks is the primary target and the one for which they will be ultimately remembered. This season they are showing some great promise and the previous night our Under 23’s had travelled to Manchester and comprehensively beaten Man United five goals to nil!! Jon was asked what the relevance of having an Under 23’s team since most players will surely have been spotted by their late teens. Jon responded by saying that our U 23’s are mainly U 21’s but that they can play older players who may need match practice to get back into 1st team action. They are also permitted to play up to three over 23’s plus goalkeeper but it is still, primarily, a development squad.
Another question asked whether the Academy was involved in developing ladies but as yet they are not. It was felt, however, that it could only be a matter of time before they would bring girls into the academy structures. Parents play a huge role, providing crucial support but they can also be difficult to handle at times! A under 9 lad being signed up to our Academy may be dreaming of stardom but the reality is that only a very small number will ever progress to making prof-grade. The Academy promises not success but that each child will be a better footballer for his time in the structure. Meanwhile Jon felt that the link between the Academy and the 1st Team has probably never been stronger. Opportunities are definitely there for players to step up. Moving from County Road to Bishop Burton had been important in the quest to become a Category 2 Academy. Currently an Indoor Pitch is being planned.
Jon wanted to thank the Executive Club and Senior Tigers for their ongoing support providing grants to young players who need it. For some it is the provision of boots or the costs of going to overseas tournaments. Invaluable. Keane was asked about his physical strength since he was not the strongest lad in the team and could be bullied out by opposition defenders. He recognised this challenge and said that he spends extra time in the gym to build up his strength stock. He already feels that he is benefiting from this. As we closed young Keane was given the warmest of best wishes for his future with the Tigers and Jon for his leadership at the Academy.
Our focus for the October meeting will be a fascinating insight into one of the earliest men to play for Hull City. Don Patricio, as he became known, played over 100 years ago for the club but went on to become a legend of the game managing the mighty Barcelona.
Other things that were shared during our October meeting:
Dave, from the Chair, welcomed the two newly elected committee members, Paul Bryan & Elizabeth Clague and mentioned that they would share the portfolio of ‘Wellbeing’ for our members.
He mentioned that since our AGM, when we had some problems with our Speaker system, that it had now been condemned. The Committee had started the task of identifying new equipment.
Jeff Barmby of the Ex-Tigers had informed us that they are organising a special Fund-raising social Evening at the New Walton Club in Walton Street for the evening of Friday, 6th December. It was planned to raise funds for the family of the late Pete Skipper along with Geoff Barker & Mark Cooper. Members can apply for tickets (£7) from Tony Conway.
Barbara updated members on the special outings. There are still some places for the trip to Saltaire, a World Heritage site, on Thursday, 19th Sept. They were also reminded that this trip leaves the KCOM at 8.00 am! The trip to Middlesboro FC along with the James Herriot Centre is Thursday, 24th October, places available at £25pp. The final trip of the year will be a return trip to the National Football Museum in Manchester on Thursday, 21st November when there will also be the opportunity to visit the Arndale Centre.
Allen also spoke of the special visit to Hull Fair on Thursday, 10th October when we will meet with some of the key showmen who return year after year to entertain us. We plan to meet at 1.00 pm probably in the New Walton Club. Hopefully there will be some refreshments provided by the showmen and later the opportunity to walk round some of the fairground. Parking will be available at the Stadium and should not incur a fee! Full details will be given next month. Over 40 members had booked for this event. Others wishing to join the visit just need to contact Allen.
David announced that Brian & Brenda Beck had offered their services to the memorabilia team. This is greatly appreciated though more would still be welcomed!
Last month we launched a season-long suggestion that members, when claiming their free tea/coffee might like to make a voluntary donation to the World Wildlife Fund (save the Tigers etc). In August the contribution was an encouraging £62.20. This continues throughout the season.
Members enjoying their lunch
Our guests Jon Beale and Keane Lewis-Potter with our Chair Dave Jackson and also some happy raffle winners.
Summary Report from our October, 2019, Members’ Meeting
Our October meeting, held on October 3rd, was a little different. Instead of a former player or coach we were introduced to the story of a player who played for the Tigers over 100 years previously. No one present could even claim to have seen him play!
Patrick O’Connell played 58 times for our club between 1912 and 1914 before he was sold to Manchester United for the huge sum of £1000. Even the legendary Billy Boston was only signed by Hull FC for £600.
Our speaker was Rob Bell from the Hull History Troup, a man passionate to tell the story of our city and her people. His interest in O’Connell stemmed from a personal love of FC Barcelona, coming from the years he lived and worked in the Spanish city. The link that gained his commitment was that our hero went on to coach the Spanish giants and took on the name of Don Patricio. It is a remarkable story, one which we were privileged to receive.
O’Connell was born in Dublin in 1887, near Croke Park. As a young lad he would join Belfast Celtic before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in 1909 and then to Hull City. During his time with City he was appointed Captain of the Irish team that played in the British Championship and which won the Championship for Ireland in 1913.
He was strongly opinionated too and having moved on from us to Manchester United he joined the fledgling Players’ Union, one of the first to do so and making him none to popular with the club. On Good Friday, 1915, United played Liverpool in a game that would decide the survival of both clubs. At half-time United led by 2-0 which was a result that would ensure that both clubs survived. However a last minute penalty was awarded which would, if scored, condemn Liverpool. History says that it had been a second half that was “crammed with lifeless football” so no surprise that the resulting penalty missed the goal and hit the corner flag! The rigged game saw a number of player convicted but not O’Connell. Shortly afterwards all games were suspended for the duration of the War. During the War he moves south and is employed by the Ford Motor Company delivering new vans. He also guest appears for Clapton Orient but his playing days were coming to an end. Instead he took up coaching and moved to Spain were many of the managers were British or Irish. Don Patricio, as he now becomes, takes Racing Santander to five regional titles before moving to Real Oviedo and then Real Betis, Seville’s second club. In 1934-35 they won their one and only La Liga title playing ‘Total Football’. He moves again, this time to the mighty FC Barcelona. The European drive towards Fascism was firing many flames and the Catalan team was not popular with the Spanish Government under Franco but Don Patricio took a keen role to ensure that FC Barcelona survived despite Franco threatening to shut the club down.
O’Connell had married Ellen Treston but she wouldn’t leave Ireland. She remained there and Patrick did other things! In time he met and married another Ellen – possibly bigamously! Returning to England he stayed with his brother who ran a hotel near Kings Cross. The later years of a man who has shaped and changed so many things would be disappointing as he hit the bottle. In 1957 O’Connell passed away in London and was buried in a pauper’s grave at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Kilburn. Since then efforts have been made to ensure he is given honour and that history does finally recognise a most remarkable talent – and, yes, he played for the Tigers!
During the meeting praise was expressed for the brilliant trip to Saltaire and members were reminded of the up coming trip to Middlesboro FC and the James Herriot Centre in Thirsk. Bookings were now being taken for the Christmas Luncheon on Thursday 5th December. Our Chair introduced our two Well-being Co-ordinators, Elizabeth Clague & Paul Bryan, encouraging members to take issues to them. Elizabeth had been asked whether we could have a Senior Tigers Ladies Walking Football or Netball and this was being explored.
Jeff Barmby is organising a Fundraiser Support night on Friday, 6th December – call him on 447472
After another excellent Raffle it was left for David, our Chair, to announce that our speaker in November will be Les Hare, from the re-emerging North Ferriby United.
Rob Bell with Committee member, Pat Ellis holding a copy of Rob's book, 'Sharp Street'
The coach will drop off at the museum which is close by to the Arndal Centre, and nearby restaurants and the Corn Exchange. This is an opportunity to visit the National Football Museum and/or Christmas shopping at the Arndale Centre. The cost for this trip is £15pp. Please note the coach will leave the KCOM Stadium South Car Park at 8-30am
Senior Tigers Lunch on 5th December 12-00pm in the Circle Restaurant. More details and confirmation of the venue will appear here nearer the time..
Senior Tigers Meeting on 9th January at the usual time of 13-45pm in the Dugout. This is our regular monthly meeting following a similar format to last season. Guest speakers and more details will appear here nearer the time.
The cost of this trip is £ 22.00 and includes morning coffee on arrival, coach travel and a Factory Tour. More detail about lunch arrangements and coach departure will be available nearer the time.
Senior Tigers Meeting on 5th March at the usual time of 13-45pm in the Dugout. This is our regular monthly meeting following a similar format to last season. Guest speakers and more details will appear here nearer the time.
Senior Tigers Meeting on 2th April at the usual time of 13-45pm in the Dugout. This is our regular monthly meeting following a similar format to last season. Guest speakers and more details will appear here nearer the time.
Senior Tigers End of Season Lunch on 7th May from 12-00pm in the Circle Restaurant. More details and confirmation of the venue will appear here nearer the time..