For those not yet 70 - a flavour of 1930
A FANTASY SATURDAY IN 1930
From Arthur Dyson (Onchan, Isle of Man) August 2001
We are in November and the kick-off time today is 2.45 pm. Next month it will be 2.30 pm and back again in January to 2.45 pm. The game will finish at precisely 4.25 pm as there is no 'stoppage time' and exactly ten minutes break at half-time.
Of course way back in September the kick off was 3.15 pm and allowed a more leisurely approach. After all, those who had a job worked until mid-day after which they still needed a drink, a wash and change plus Saturday dinner before walking to the match.
We are playing Sandbach Ramblers today and expect to win, we would be much less confident playing Port Vale or Tranmere Rovers reserve teams who are always smart and well organised.
The pitch is soft but not too heavy at this time of year, not like it will be in the depth of winter with puddles everywhere but even then still no danger of a cancellation. Nobody could kick the ball very far anyway as the leather ball is too heavy for that.
It's a dull day but too windy for for any signs of mist or fog and Seel Fold is on pretty high ground anyway. There should be a £25 'gate' from close on 1,000 spectators paying 6d. to enter, 40 sixpences to the Pound.
The selected team was printed in the 'Reporter' that we read last night and it remains to be seen who A.N.OTHER will turn out to be. No reserve was printed and substitutions for injuries or anything else is not yet even in the imagination.
There was a brisk sale of tickets for the half time draw, after all it isn't a bad prize a ten shilling note, many people work a whole day to earn that much.
The referee has inspected the nets, which have iron supports but the goalposts are square wooden ones and the crossbar as well. The goalie will sometimes swing on the crossbar pulling it down in the middle a few inches but not many keepers or other players are taller than 5'1`0" or 12 stone in weight.
The pitch marking is standard, the arc outside the penalty area has not yet been introduced nor the quarter circle at the corner flag. The two linesmen have taken their place and each will cover the full length of the touchline indicating when the ball is out of play. They will not flag for'off-side' as they are not there for that purpose. Generally speaking a forward player will endeavour to keep on-side and defenders rarely have the combined wit to set a trap.
We have won the toss and elected to play up the slope, which is what we wanted as playing towards the park in the second half is a bonus. We are in our normal strip, white shirts, longish black shorts, no fancywork and none expected. The boots have cylindrical studs and hard toe caps designed more for strength than speed.
The formation of both teams is the customary 2 full backs, 3 half backs further up and a 'W' formation forward line with the two inside forwards feeding the wingers and the centre forward.
As the 'stopper' centre half is not yet in vogue centre forwards can find space quite easily and also score frequently. Sophisticated football embracing strategy and tactics is still a few seasons away.
Jimmy Leaver is at left back (later on he kept the Guidepost Pub in Stalybridge) whilst Jack Newnes is Centre half, a vital position, leaving Clifford Tarr and Jack Roscoe as the danger men up front. Clifford's favourite trick is to kick the ball round one side of the opposing full back and run round the other.
The game is under way, the crowd as usual is good natured, the policeman is on duty but will have no cause to move. The banter follows the usual pattern - 'Somebody should by the ref a pair of specs' - 'They wouldn't be any use, he's blind' - 'Where's Joe? I haven't seen him lately' - 'No, he said the team never came to see him when he was bad'.
It's going dark and well what do you know the ninety minutes is up and we have won 3-1. Time to walk home, talk about the goals, take tea and pop off to the newsagents for the Football Chronicle. Wonder how City have got on? - Manchester, of course. They are the really big club not too far away. After all our postal address is 'Mossley, near Manchester'.