Junior Footballers of Yesteryear – Where are they now? (July 2003)

The following article by John Knock was included in the July 2003 Parish Magazine.

Soon after I went to Judd School as an ’11 plus’ in 1947 I picked a Leigh Junior Football team to play on the Green against my form-mates.  When sorting through papers for the Historical Exhibition in the Church last year I came across the team sheet:

Goal:  I. Bridgen.  Left Back: A. Holden   Right Back:  D. Stolton
Left Half:  P. Clark.  Centre Half.  M. Cheseman.  Right Half:  C. Taylor
Outside Left:  J. Knock    Inside Left:  J. Holden.  Centre Forward:  B. Thompsett
Inside Right:  R. Chadwick.  Outside Right:  R. Thompsett.   Kick Off:  9.30

Where are they?  Well, for the majority you don’t have to look very far.  As many of today’s parishioners will know, Bernard Thompsett and John Holden live in Garden Cottages, Russell Thompsett and Dennis Stolton in The Forstall and I am in Lealands Avenue.  Ray Chadwick lives in Leigh Road, Hildenborough.  Alan Holden also lives in Hildenborough and Mike Cheseman , living in Tonbridge, may often be seen jogging along Powder Mill Lane.  Claude Taylor moved to Fordcombe some years ago and Peter Clarke down to Nonington near Dover to manage an Estate and private Cricket ground: on a visit up here some twenty-five years ago he led a relay race in the British Legion Sports with Ray, Sally Hayter, and me: we finished second to a Tonbridge team.

One name is missing, the goalkeeper, Ian Bridgen from Hall Place, who moved to Tonbridge and sadly died in March 2002, full of lively mischief to the end.

In the summer preceding the football match I had picked the same team to play cricket against Judd on the Green, with a return fixture played at the School.  I asked the Headmaster for permission to take the junior football team in for a return match at Judd.  “No.  Knock, this is a Rugby School!”

Many generations of Leigh youngsters have grown up enjoying their cricket and football on the Green since those happy days of long ago.  But changes in education, jobs, housing and travel have led them on to further and more distant fields, and no group since then can be found so near as our old gang.

John Knock (July 2003)