Chester le Street Schools' District Football Tour

Manchester

Quite how the decision to go on tour at the end of season 1971-72 came about is uncertain but it became a high point in the season for 20 years before changing to an early season trip to Scarborough.

 

Contacts were made in the Manchester area and, on the last Thursday of the Easter holidays in 1973, an excited group set off by coach for two night's accommodation, play three matches against teams in the Manchester area, go on a conducted tour of a football league ground (no Premier League then) watch a match on the way home and even watch Stockport County, who played their matches on Friday evenings - quite a weekend!

Second tour to Manchester in 1975. We always used Kingsway buses from Langley Park, which were fine at the time but are definitely looking dated now compared to modern buses

Chairman Emmerson McMillan receives a pennant from the chairman of Sale Boys at a meal organised by the hosts. Meals were often provided after district matches, even those played locally. Pies & peas was the favourite meal

During the 20 years on tour, we played a variety of district teams in the Manchester area such as Stockport, Hyde, Manchester, Stretford, Macclesfield, Altringham to name but a few. Significantly, over recent years, not one association in Greater Manchester is running a district team - very sad!

Those weekends are remember fondly, many years later, by many of the players. Here are a few examples

Barry Fleming (Seasons 1977-79)

School Team: Birtley East

Memories, even today, are very vivid when it comes to remembering playing for the district team. The Manchester tour was a happy memory as it was an occasion when my relatives were able to make the short trip from Bury to meet up and see me play. I remember that one of the teams we played was Stretford. Sharing a room with Ian Day (Ouston School) was a culture shock - he was as mad as a hatter!

Craig Liddle (Season 1981-83)

School Team: Ouston St Benets

One of the main memories for me was the trip to Manchester in the Easter holidays. Looking back, it was the first overnight stay in a hotel. On my two visits, we watched a Stockport County game on the Friday evening, played a game on the Saturday morning and watched another game on the Saturday afternoon, one of which was at Leeds United. One or two of the parents would come along with the teachers and I would say it was a special time for anyone who went on those trips whether you were a player, teacher or parent

Ross Lumsden (Season 1986-87)

School Team: Ouston

I do remember going to Manchester on tour, which was the first trip away from home without my parents - scary for a ten year old kid! The orange strips Chester always used to wear bring back happy memories and also the conducted tour of Manchester United football ground

John Telford (Season 1984-85)

School Team: Red Rose

I clearly remember going on tour to Manchester. We went to see Swindon Town play. One of the games we played was in freezing cold, wild, snowy conditions. Manchester United had reached the cup final that season as I remember when we visited Old Trafford, there seemed to be flags and scarves everywhere.

Todd Lumsden (1987-89)

School Team: Ouston

The trip to Manchester is always remembered. One of the teachers organised a sweep before we played a game on the first goal scorer. The bus driver pulled my name out of the hat. Fortunately for me, I scored with a free kick - I say fortunately as that was the first goal and he gave me the money to spend on the trip! The weekend was great fun and gave us a chance to play against teams and players we wouldn't normally play against. At the age, it was good development to be away from the safety of your own home, even though you didn't think it at the time

Michael Barron (Season 1985-86)

School Team: Pelton Roseberry

The tour to Manchester made me realise what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I made some true friends who I can rely on and trust in life

Peter Ward (Seasons 1974-76)

School Team: Pelton County

I remember our trips to Manchester and staying at the Rudyard Hotel along the A6 in Stockport. I drove past the hotel every day on my way to training when I was playing for Stockport County. I also remember having conducted tours of Manchester City and Stockport County

The Rudyard Hotel was, for many years, the hotel we used on our Easter tours

The first Manchester tour in 1973. There was a fine turnout of teachers supporting district football in those days - Messrs Richardson, McMillan, Pearson, Meek, Johnson, Baker, Willis, Staines, Wilson

Standing on the steps of Hartley Royal Methodist College - our first accommodation in season 1972-73.

Since then, we have stayed in a range of hotels and colleges but, without doubt, one of the most unusual was when we stayed at St Gabriel's College, which was run by the Sisters of the Cross & Passion. Below is a write up, by the sisters, in a local newspaper

Sisters & Footballers

'Not an ideal combination you would say - Sisters of the Cross & Passion and young footballers?. Wrong again - at Gabriel's Hall, over the Easter, the sisters welcomed 18 boys from Chester-le-Street Junior Schools FA. who have been coming to Manchester for 14 years. 

This year, they were cossetted by the sisters, having their football togs washed in the laundry, cocoa and jam butties at night, not to mention their proper evening meal, where ice cream figured prominently. Another collection of older teenage American footballers overlapped their stay with the young ones and were much admired'

Easter 1987 - quite a weekend!

Colin Harrison (Season 1980-91)

School Team: Pelton Roseberry

My main memory of the Easter tour to Manchester was beating Macclesfield 8-0. I was the first person to score a hat trick and I have the trophy to prove it! I still have programmes and certificates from some of those games . I can remember playing Hyde, Macclesfield and Stockport. I also have programmes from the Stcokport v York City match we went to on the Friday night and the Leeds v Southampton match on the Saturday

Paul Johnson (1977-79)

School Team: Ouston St Benets

At the end of the season, there was the Easter Tour to Stockport. Team mangers Tom Baker & John Meek would whet our appetite for this throughout the season and it certainly lived up to our expectations. A trip on the team coach to Lancashire, usually stopping at Leeds or Sheffield for a tour of the ground, was great start to the weekend. Once we arrived, however, it got even better with matches against local district teams, another club to visit (which included both Manchester clubs in my two years there) and a match to go and watch. This was as good as it gets for ten and eleven year old lads who, in their own minds, were all going to be footballers at that age. Playing for Chester Boys was football as it should be: competitive but fun, a place for friendships to be made and organised by a hugely committed group of staff. Happy memories!

Philip Lightburn (Season 1977-78)

School Team: Barley Mow

I still have vivid memories of the tip to Manchester with the district team - ground tours at Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester United, watching Stockport County on the Friday night and Manchester City on the Saturday as well as fitting in two matches against district teams in three days - what a trip!

Michael McAdam (Seasons 1980-82)

School team: St Cuthberts

The Easter was absolutely top drawer - brilliant. The thrill of your first trip away without your parents can't be beaten. In fact, it was a football feast - playing, watching, touring - the complete works. Tremendous!

Scarborough

Following 20 years of touring in the Manchester area, a change of direction was called for and, instead of using the tour as an end of season treat, we decided that the October half term might prove a better option in cementing relationships among the boys and parents in readiness for the coming season. Scarborough was the preferred destination and we have played a match against Scarborough Boys on the Saturday morning followed by a match on the Sunday against North Tyneside, who have also made the trip to Scarborough, for many years. Families have also been invited, which wasn't the case on the trips to Manchester but there is no doubt about it that these weekends have been hugely successful and have provided wonderful memories for both boys and parents

A party of 50 assemble in October 2012 in readiness for a game against our great friends, North Tyneside

An 'open topped' bus ride is a must during the free afternoon in Scarborough

A game of ten-pin bowling and a session on the slot machines - who could ask for anything more!

Alfie Gordon (Season 2012/13)

School Team: Ravensworth Tce

We travelled to Scarborough for the weekend to play a mini tournament in the October holiday. In the first game, we beat Scarborough 5-1. In the evening, we went out for a delicious meal and enjoyed a game of ten pin bowling while the parents went out on the town with Mr McCormick.

We had to do a lot of running on the way back to the hotel as Mr Baker was looking for who would compete in the schools' cross country later in the year.. The following morning, we played against North Tyneside and won 4-2. On that day, it was absolutely freezing. Finally, we returned home. I thought the weekend was great!

This report of the 2012 tour is very much a typical Scarborough tour:

Great excitement as the party set off in cars for the match against Scarborough at Bramcote School - our favourite venue

The usual beak at Scaling Dam on the way there for a 'belly buster' breakfast has always been a feature. The weather was poor - driving rain saw a small group huddled under the canopy of the burger van, tucking into a hearty breakfast but, in a way, we were relieved that the weather wasn't as bad as the day before when snow had fallen and the forecast for the North Yorkshire moors for the Saturday suggested that 10 cms of snow might have fallen. However, the roads were fine, no such problems were encountered and everyone arrived in good time for the match

A 5-1-victory against a Scarborough side, feeling their way into the season, was a good start to the weekend and it was a happy squad which made its to the Ryndle Court Hotel to book in. No problems with anyone losing their way to the hotel although SAT Navs play a big part in this.

A 'free' afternoon saw boys and parents engage in a variety of activities before the whole party set off for their 'Happy Hour' pizza. Afterwards, the boys left their parents to make their way to the South Bay for a game of ten-pin bowling and a session on the slot machines

The traditional sprinting competition on the way back to the hotel gave teachers an idea who will be favourites in the inter-schools cross country championships in January. A walk back through the town, calling in at Scarborough's cricket ground for the annual quiz on county cricket, saw us return to the hotel just in time for 'Match of the Day'

Congratulations to this year's parents for having almost all the family members waiting in the lounge for the arrival of the boys - no mention of those who were still out on the town or the name of the member of staff! Relaxing in the hotel late on a Saturday night gives parents and staff a chance to get to know each other in comfortable surroundings. Over the years, a variety of hotels have been used, always in the North Bay.

Breakfast was enjoyed by all before setting off to play North Tyneside. A fine performance, resulting in a 4-2 win, capped yet another successful Scarborough Tour

Having mentioned the possibility of snow on the journey down, read this account written by Cestria teacher, Mr Willie Shield, of one particular Scarborough weekend

'The greatest deluge? Unquestionably on the October tour to Scarborough. A morning kick off and a monsoon of Biblical proportions, which would have caused a postponement of the game under normal circumstances. However, as we had travelled so far, it was decided that the game would go ahead. 

No-one enjoyed the experience, least of all the players, one of whom wanted to walk off the pitch midway through the game as he was so cold and wet. His father, who was on the touchline, gave him the choice of staying on or never playing football again - he stayed on the pitch!'

A final photograph before setting off for home as the Scarborough weekend ended with a thrilling 4-2 victory against North Tyneside. It is the icing on the cake to end the weekend with a victory