Cup-winning Seaham footballers still a team 64 years after their triumph

Harry Clark, seated, centre, former headteacher at Camden Square School, Seaham, with members of the school's football team from the 1946-7 season. Seated are Alan Foots and Vince Wilson, right.  Standing, left to right; Alan Gordon, Vic Evans, Bob Gordon, John Black, Ernie McAllister, Ray Knapp, Colin Pitcher, Tommy Foster and Tom Cambell.
Harry Clark, seated, centre, former headteacher at Camden Square School, Seaham, with members of the school's football team from the 1946-7 season. Seated are Alan Foots and Vince Wilson, right. Standing, left to right; Alan Gordon, Vic Evans, Bob Gordon, John Black, Ernie McAllister, Ray Knapp, Colin Pitcher, Tommy Foster and Tom Cambell.
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IT seemed like only yesterday they were a team of fresh-faced teenagers without a care in the world.

Getting dirty as they raced up and down the pitch, the schoolboys from Camden Square School in Seaham loved nothing more than playing football together.

Copy picture of the Camden Square School football team of 1946-7 winners of the Londonderry Cup. Pictured back row, left to right; Harry Temple, teacher and coach Harry Clark, Ernie McAllister, Frank Reed, Ronald Lazenby, Alan Foots and John Black.  Front row; Alan Bell, Vivian Humphrey, Dickie Wilson, Vince Wilson, Raymond Knapp and Thomas Campbell.

Copy picture of the Camden Square School football team of 1946-7 winners of the Londonderry Cup. Pictured back row, left to right; Harry Temple, teacher and coach Harry Clark, Ernie McAllister, Frank Reed, Ronald Lazenby, Alan Foots and John Black. Front row; Alan Bell, Vivian Humphrey, Dickie Wilson, Vince Wilson, Raymond Knapp and Thomas Campbell.

Standing on the touchline was devoted sports teacher and manager Harry Clark, shouting words of encouragement to the boys he trained.

It was in 1947 – the height of their glory days – when the Seaham teens picked up the then-prestigious Londonderry Cup, sealing a bond that was to last a lifetime.

Now, 64 years later they have been reunited for the first time.

Amazingly, not only did the former team members, all well into their 70s, turn up, they were joined by Harry, now aged 98.

Vince Wilson, one of the former players who describes himself as in his “late 70s”, now lives in Cheshire.

He said: “After 60-odd years, it was strange when I first walked into the room. You could see people trying to work out who was who – then the laughter began.

“When Harry began to talk to us all, I looked round the room and you could see everyone paying him undivided attention – just like they did all those years ago.

“He was our teacher and the sports master and he was also a part-time professional player for Accrington Stanley. We all idolised him, firstly because he was such a popular teacher and secondly because he was a footballer, which was amazing to us young lads.”

Vince, who worked as a journalist for 40 years, remembers playing in old boots and strips since the Second World War had just ended and funding was tight.

“That season we were playing in the 1937 strip. I can still remember it, with the white V across the front.”

Vince said the idea of a reunion came about through conversation and although many of the former team members are now living in different parts of the country, many made it to the reunion at Seaham Golf Club.

He said: “It was great talking about old memories and catching up on what we had all been doing since school.”

The players remembered fondly how much excitement there was when they won the Londonderry Cup.

Sadly, three of the team have since died.

After the 1946/47 Camden Square School football team left the school, Harry, who lives in Seaton, continued his teaching career there and went on to become headteacher. The team is hoping to have another get-together in a couple of years to celebrate their former manager’s 100th birthday.

Twitter: @SunEchoSchools