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Old boots and navy knickers

It being half term, there was no session with the children this week, but we did get to visit the Hildesley High Flyers, to look at the contents of the Extra Time Kit Bag and share a few ‘sporting’ memories.

In pride of place in the Kit Bag are the old leather football boots on loan from Laxfield Museum. We have two pairs, adult- and child-sized, and everyone agreed that they were so heavy, it must have been really hard to play football wearing them.

Along with the boots is a small, silver trophy from a football tournament in the late 1940’s. The cup, ‘just big enough to hold an egg’, prompted a wide-ranging conversation about awards and the winning – or not – of sporting fixtures, from golf and gymnastics to netball and snowballs.

Along the way we learned that Shirley had to share her school P.E. kit with one of her sisters, meaning that she could only play games every other week and that Peggy didn’t have swimming lessons, not because the hike from her home all the way over to Oulton Broad was exercise enough, but because her mother couldn’t afford to buy her a swimming costume.

Derek declared that, as a trawlerman, there was neither time, nor space, to play football – but he did share a story about the loneliness of the ‘substitute’ crewman.

A boat couldn’t leave harbour without a full crew, so if one of the team didn’t show up, the boat stayed in dock until the next day and the men got an extra night ashore.

Often, however, there would be men on the quayside, ready to step in at a moment’s notice and take the place of the missing crewman. The boat could then sail but, as Derek explained, the substitute could spend a dismal fortnight at sea, with few, if any, of the crew speaking to him.

By the end of the session, Dean had gathered a wealth of personal anecdotes that he skilfully stitched into the Kit Bag Poem or, as Trish suggested, A Trophy for Who?

‘It wasn't at all as I'd expected. I thought it would be just rows and rows of books, but the layout was so good, so interesting, it really pulled you in.’
‘If a youngster wins a trophy like that, they remember it all their lives.’
‘The Pink ‘Un – it was amazing – you could leave a match and then, within about half an hour or so, you’d be reading the results for all the matches that day … I don’t know how they did it.’