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Gordon remembers Greatford’s glory years

Greatford United Football Club team from 1964-65. Back row, from left, Jim Wainwright, Henry Cunnington, Bob Baldwin; middle row, Jack Munton, Wilf Cunnington, Pop Griffiths, Neville Ward, John Cosgrove, Geoff Abrahams, Marcus Groves and Rodney Groves (brothers); front, Mike Johnson, Graham Copeland, Frank Johnson, Gordon Starkie, Bill Pell..

Greatford United Football Club team from 1964-65. Back row, from left, Jim Wainwright, Henry Cunnington, Bob Baldwin; middle row, Jack Munton, Wilf Cunnington, Pop Griffiths, Neville Ward, John Cosgrove, Geoff Abrahams, Marcus Groves and Rodney Groves (brothers); front, Mike Johnson, Graham Copeland, Frank Johnson, Gordon Starkie, Bill Pell..

 

Our recent Mercury Memories stories of football teams, the Parsons family and a one-legged cricketer prompted reader Gordon Starkie to come up with some photos and stories of his own.

Well-known among local footballers of a certain age, Gordon was a prolific sportsman in his day, playing football for Greatford United from the age of 15, cricket for Greatford, tennis and, more recently, golf at Rutland County Golf Club.

His football position was inside forward and he was one of four strikers for Greatford when they were famous for winning everything - they once won eight cups in 14 days and made the pages of the national press.

Gordon, of Waverley Gardens, Stamford, like his father before him, worked for Blackstones all his life–he was an accountant from 1953 to 1993 –at a time when the engineering firm employed many of the district’s top footballers who preferred to play for their village clubs rather than the company side.

Gordon knew John Parsons, known as Jack, and Tim Gregory, the one-legged sportsman, who played with him for Greatford cricket team.

He provided a photo taken around 1948, showing Tim, who was wicketkeeper, Gordon’s father, Bill Starkie, who was umpire, his godfather, Jack Goodwin, one-armed bowler Hughie Dunthorne and also Jack Parsons.

“We were quite a good side. Tim was a handy wicketkeeper. He came from Mansfield where Greatford used to play.

“I’m afraid most of them in this photo are deceased. I played for them and for the football team as a boy 
and then again after the war,” Gordon said.

He said it was his mother, Dora Starkie, who had kept all his football and cricket photos and had made a scrapbook of cuttings, mostly from the Mercury. Jim Wainwright and Gordon himself used to write match reports for the Mercury and take them in to the office.

Of the Greatford United football team, nine were village born and bred. The pitch moved to various sites in Greatford before ending up in Barholm. The Greatford and Barholm side had win after win and made headlines in the News of the World in 1964.

“We won eight cups in 14 days - I don’t think that has ever been done by any side before or since,” Gordon said.

“We were pretty good. Our goalkeeper, Nev Ward, who is still about, would have been a great player for any of the top teams today.

“He ended up playing for Bourne Town and he still lives in Greatford.”

Gordon stopped playing in the early 1970s when he was nearly 40.

He remembered one occasion in 1948 with Jack Parsons in goal for Greatford in a cup final against Easton-on-the-Hill at Stamford Town’s ground.

“Greatford won 1-0 from a penalty scored by Jack, who ran up from his goal end to take it.”

Gordon’s father Bill, also known as Pop, was heavily involved in football and cricket.

Gordon remembers how very different things were playing football in those days.

“We had no reserves, so you had to turn up. I remember once my car broke down at Toft and I had a five-mile walk to Edenham where we were playing. I got there just before half-time. We won,” he said.

Gordon is hoping former team-mates who he isn’t already in touch with will contact him.

“I do see some of my old mates and most of them still live around here, but it would be nice to hear from more.”

His telephone number is 01780 753242.

 

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