Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Do you remember March 1968?




Springfield Old Boys substitute John Oakes made footballing history in March 1968 when he was ordered off without even playing. In the only incident in a tense game between Kingsley Youth Club Oakes ran on to the pitch with several spectators when a skirmish developed between players and fans. The ref ordered him from the field and to the dressing room. Had a Springfield player been injured, Oakes still wearing a track suit could not have been bought on.

The after effects of the Foot and Mouth epidemic that had hit Staffordshire earlier in 1968 were gradually becoming overcome. The first distressed sale of cattle after the outbreak took place at Waterfall. It should have taken place the previous November. Another sign of a return of normality was the first wedding after the epidemic which took place at Rushton Church when Miss Christine Knowles married Roland Sales. Endon Secondary Schools annual cross country took place with a slight change of route because of the disease. One school record was broken when John Lockey romped home some distance ahead of the second place runner getting back in 14minutes 38 seconds.

The Easter school leaver had plenty of choice with many companies vying for their employment. All the major employers in North Staffs were featured in a 8 page spread with particular large adverts from Slimma, Wardles and White's . The most attractive opportunity for the young person in North Staffordshire at the time was probably the apprenticeship at the Michelin with opportunities in draughtsman, craft and technology and business administration. Perhaps the most poignant promotion was a full page spread for the National Coal Board- “Coal's heading for a bright future -be part of it”. Of course from the perspective of 2013 we now know that Coal in North Staffordshire had under 20 years before the last pit closed. The advice of the local paper for the young worker was as telling then it is now “ The Easter school leaver would be wise to look ahead . He will be tempted by the job that paid the most money. However, if he is wise he will look further ahead In a technological world the man without skills will be in an increasingly difficult position”

Language of 1968 used to describe vulnerable people would make people today wince if used now. Take the group that would be referred to as people with learning difficulties the words used then were brutal. Reporters were taken on a visit to the Adult Training Centre where “ subnormal and socially inadequate” young people were made work ready. The unit offered training in self reliance, work attitude and abilities to work without supervision. The ATC had contracts to supply work for the GPO amongst others. The article noted the importance of relationships between “ the normal and the subnormal” which can be beneficial to both. Normal youngsters learn to understand that there are people less fortunate and there is satisfaction obtained from helping others”

A distinguished visitor to Leek High's prize giving was the Speaker of the House of Commons Dr Horace King who spoke to the pupils feeling that he had to explode one of the myths about Parliament that it “consists of faceless men belonging to the party block without minds of their own. No two Labour men and no two Tory men are the same.” He was probably correct in that the Parliament of the 60s contained such giants as Enoch Powell and Michael Foot as well as people with great experience of life in peace and war.

Councillors discussed whether the controversial film of the novel “Ulysses” should be shown in Leek. Reluctantly they agreed that it should be shown. Some Councillors felt that they should protect the public from itself. Cllr John Sales believed that if people wanted to see the film they ought to be allowed “ to roll in your own moral and intellectual excreta”.