Saturday, 2 January 2021

Where's the Public Telephone Box? Part 8

I am continuing my quest to seek out images of Public Telephone Boxes pictured on vintage postcards. As the years go by, so many of these structures have either been preserved but repurposed for other uses, or have been removed altogether. 

It's fun to play I-Spy and spot the phone boxes that have just made it into the shot, while many are proudly posing as an integral part of the landscape.

South Ayrshire, Scotland


near Faversham, Kent



Caernarvonshire, Wales



Flintshire, Wales

Monday, 21 December 2020

Coventry City, Christmas Day 1959

For my seasonal post this year, I'm offering up another snapshot of Christmas Day football. This time the location is Coventry City's Highfield Road Stadium, on 25th December, 1959. For my previous Christmas post, I showcased the matchday programme of the last ever professional football fixture to be played in England on Christmas Day - Blackpool's home game versus Blackburn Rovers in 1965.

When Coventry City took on Wrexham at 11am on Xmas Day 1959, the tradition of the Christmas Day match which had harked back to 1889 (the second season of the Football League) was already well on the wane. This Third Division fixture had actually been scheduled for December 28th, but in the programme notes it was explained that most people in Coventry would be back at work on that day. So a return to the 25th December would offer the supporters a better chance of seeing their team play. 

Coincidentally, it wasn't until a Christmas Day fixture in 1919/20 when Coventry City beat Stoke, that City managed to win their first ever match in Division Two having been promoted to the Football League from the Southern League after WW1. 

A good omen then, as on this Christmas Day match in 1959, City beat Wrexham 5-3. For the return game which was played at the Racecourse Ground on Boxing Day, City also won, this time 3-1.

The slim 12 page City programme has a tremendously powerful front cover design depicting a packed to the rafters Highfield Road with the word CITY in bold white capitals. There's a typical-of-the-era collection of advertisements accompanying the team line-ups, words from the manager, and pen pictures of the visitors. The cost of a coach journey from Coventry to Wrexham for the away fixture was 14/6 (seventy two and a half pence). I wonder how many coach loads of fans made that Boxing Day trip up to North Wales?

Coventry v Wrexham, 25th December 1959

Wrexham v Coventry, 26th December 1959

Here are some highlights from that Coventry City v Wrexham programme issued on 25th December 1959:

Just over 60 years on, Coventry will be UK City of Culture 2021, and the team are competing in the Championship, the second tier of the Football League. The club left Highfield Road at the end of the 2004/05 season, and are currently playing their home matches at Birmingham City's St Andrew's Ground before a planned move to a new site in association with the University of Warwick.
Happy Holidays to all...


Pop Pic Library comic 1965 to 1968 UPDATED

I still get the occasional enquiry about a post over seven years ago on 'After You've Gone' that explored the rather elusive history of the Pop Pic Library comic book. Since then, with the help of some eagle-eyed readers of this rather occasional blog, I've managed to add some titles to my ongoing and incomplete checklist.

Pop Pic Library was an oddity from the heyday of the 1960s pop-boom. It was a series of 68 page black and white comic books whose titles were all named after 7" chart-smashing hits by the key bands and crooners of the era. But apart from an uncredited colour photo of the artist on the back cover, everything within totally deviated from the actual lyrics of the songs themselves. Even the names of the band members, the songwriters, the producers and the record labels were omitted. 

The very first title was 'The Last Time' by The Rolling Stones - a single that was released in February 1965, so this dates the pocked-sized series to have commenced around then. The 18 x 12 cms sized comics were published by Wells Gardner, Darton & Co and printed in Redhill, Surrey - and according to the blurb that appeared below the last panel on the final pages, two titles were published on the 15th of each month. Pop Pic Library was distributed in the UK, and were also shipped out to "Australasia, South Africa, Rhodesia, Zambia and Malawi". The interior art was not credited, but sometimes the covers were - No.4 was by Josep Maria Miralles, a Spanish artist who drew many romance titles for the UK market during this time. 

I wonder whether the bands themselves ever caught sight of these little rogue comic books that re-imagined bizarre sequential art versions of their hit songs for the price of one shilling? 

Examples of Pop Pic Library rarely surface these days, particularly the higher number issues, and there's not much information out there about just how many titles were published, or the size of the circulation for the digest-sized comic books. So far, it appears that the series ran to 1968 as the last number that I've come across is No.72, Congratulations by Cliff Richard, a Chart Topping hit which was released in the March of that year. 

Here is my updated checklist of 62 known titles - and I look forward to hearing from those who can help to fill in the gaps... 

Pop Pic Library - a partial checklist:
No.1 The Last Time - The Rolling Stones 
No.2 A World of our Own - The Seekers 
No.3 I’m Alive – The Hollies 
No.4 Set Me Free - The Kinks 
No.5 Heart Full of Soul - The Yardbirds 
No.6 The One in the Middle - Manfred Mann 
No.7 We’ve Got to Get out of this Place - The Animals 
No.8 You’ve got your Troubles - The Fortunes 
No.9 I’m Down - The Beatles 
No.10 Like We Used To Be - Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames 
No.11 Whatcha Gonna Do About It - The Small Faces 
No.12 Hark - Unit 4 Plus 2 
No.13 Yesterday Man - Chris Andrews 
No.14 Get Off Of My Cloud - Rolling Stones 
No.15 We Can Work it Out - The Beatles 
No.16 Don’t Bring me Your Heartaches - Paul & Barry Ryan 
No.17 A Must to Avoid - Herman's Hermits 
No.18 Keep on Running - Spencer Davis Group 
No.19 You Were On My Mind - Crispian St. Peters 
No.20 As Tears Go By - The Rolling Stones 
No.21 A Groovy Kind of Love - The Mindbenders 
No.22 Inside Looking Out - The Animals 
No.23 I Can't Let Go - The Hollies 
No.24 The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore - The Walker Brothers
No.25 I Put a Spell on You - Alan Price Set 
No.26 Pretty Flamingo - Manfred Mann 
No.27 Not Responsible - Tom Jones 
No.28 Sorrow - The Merseys 
No.29 Bus Stop - The Hollies
No.30 Paperback Writer - The Beatles 
No.31 Get Away - Georgie Fame
No.32 Out of Time - Chris Farlowe 
No.33 All or Nothing - The Small Faces 
No.34 Got To Get You Into My Life - Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers
No.35 I'm a Boy - The Who 
No.36 Bend It! - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich 
No.37 High Time - Paul Jones
No.38 I Can’t Control Myself - The Troggs 
No.39 Gimme Some Lovin' - The Spencer Davis Group 
No.40 Help me Girl - Eric Burdon & the Animals
No.41 In the Country - Cliff Richard 
No.42 Sunshine Superman - Donovan
No.43 Got To Get You Into My Life - Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers 
No.45 On a Carousel - The Hollies 
No.46 Penny Lane - The Beatles 
No.47 There's a Kind of Hush - Herman's Hermits
No.49 Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings - Tom Jones 
No.50 Dedicated to the One I Love - The Mama's and the Papa's
No.52 Silence is Golden - The Tremeloes 
No.54 Okay! - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch 
No.55 There Goes My Everything - Engelbert Humperdinck
No.56 All You Need is Love - The Beatles 
No.58 I'll Never Fall In Love Again - Tom Jones 
No.59 Hole in My Shoe - Traffic 
No.60 Flowers in the Rain - The Move 
No.62 I Can See for Miles - The Who 
No.63 Hello, Goodbye - The Beatles 
No.64 Let the Heartaches Begin - Long John Baldry 
No 66 Daydream Believer - The Monkees
No.68 Thank U Very Much - The Scaffold
No.69 As You Are - The Tremeloes
No.72 Congratulations - Cliff Richard

Monday, 14 September 2020

HO WAY SUNDERLAND at Highbury, 1966

A brightly coloured snap taken with a Kodak Brownie camera in front of a Victorian terrace in London. About two dozen or so football fans are all smiling at the photographer. Men and women ageing from teens and upwards, and almost in the middle of the group, a young woman is sporting a classic blond peroxide bouffant hairstyle. It’s a bright but chilly Spring day, so it’s coats and anoraks all round. The supporters are kitted out in red and white striped scarves, bobble hats, football tops and a huge banner bearing the legend “Howay Sunderland”. 

Photo used with the permission of David Wallace
Photo used with the permission of David Wallace

I accidentally stumbled upon this wonderful picture late at night while scrolling through eBay. I’d tapped in ‘Sunderland 1966’ in the search box, to find a Sunderland FC match day programme from that year. One of many examples that I’ve been collecting as part of my research co-writing a book on the revolution in football programme designs between the 1960s and 1980s. The pocket-sized Sunderland issue is a stylish classic that beautifully sums up the visual culture of footballing life in Britain at that time. As I’d expected, loads of different issues came up in the listings. The cover design had stayed exactly the same over several seasons, so it was a case of checking through Sunderland’s various opponents, and what the condition was like of these tiny half-a-century old publications. Then out of the blue, amongst all the programmes on offer, a photo popped up. It was described as “Sunderland Supporters @ Arsenal in 1966”.

As a life-long Arsenal fan, I could see exactly where the picture was taken. It’s outside numbers 63 and 65 Avenell Road, bang opposite the grand entrance to the East Stand of Highbury Stadium, the former home ground of Arsenal FC. In contrast to that famous 1930s art-deco styled edifice - whose façade would subsequently be re-purposed into a private housing development - the surrounding terraced streets were then quite shabby reminders of once well-heeled Victorian family homes. On match days it was thrilling to be part of the masses circulating in and around Avenell Road. The noises, the smells, the atmosphere are still utterly tangible. Tiny doorways that lined the stadium-side of the street, housed turnstiles and their operators which were like magical doorways into three of the ground’s four stands: the Clock End, the East Stand or the North Bank. There were programme sellers, hot dog and hamburger stands, ticket touts, police on horseback, roasted peanut sellers, and always groups of regulars nattering away about players and past performances at exactly the same meeting spots.  And just opposite where those Sunderland fans were pictured was the big pre-match attraction. An imposing staircase led to the main entrance guarded by burly uniformed commissionaires. On either side the autograph hunters and the stargazers congregated, catching sight of players, celebrity guests, staff and important-looking people as they arrived for the big match.

So, this very spot on Avenell Road was exactly where those Sunderland supporters would want to be photographed, all the way from the North East of England to the beating heart of London N5. What must have it been like to travel to matches back in the mid-1960s? At this point in time just a few months before England would win the 1966 World Cup. An era still in living memory, but well before the advent of the Premiership, multi-million pound transfers, all-seater stadiums, around the clock football matches, and a massive media industry spawned by the game.

Before simply pressing the ‘BUY IT NOW’ button, I thought that to make it a must-have purchase, I’ll first check if there is a story behind this photo for sale on eBay. Could there be some genuine provenance accompanying the photograph? Or has the seller just found it in a junk shop, or amongst a pile of stuff squirrelled away in a cigar box at a house clearance auction? I wrote “Hi, I’ve just stumbled upon your great photos. Do you know any of the people in the pictures?”, then I hit the ‘Contact Seller’ button, and went to bed. The following morning, I got the reply that I was hoping for: “Hi. To answer your questions…”

What would follow is an exploration of a snapshot in time as questions and answers flowed back and forth online. The date back then was Saturday 23rd April, 1966. The fixture is Arsenal v Sunderland in Football League Division One, a match played towards the end of a season that both clubs, who were languishing in the bottom half of the league, would be looking forward to forgetting as quickly as possible. But this story isn’t about the football played on the pitch. It’s a social history of fandom through the memories of someone who was there - and who decided to take his camera along with him for the ride…

The photographer is David Wallace, then nearly 18yrs old, who was working in the stores department of an engineering company that supplied pumping equipment to coal mines, railways, and ships. David was one of the founding members of the Sunderland Supporters Association having started to follow his team away from home in 1962/63. The Supporters Association gifted any profits back to the Club, and offered ordinary fans like him the chance to travel to matches inexpensively. The cost from Sunderland to Highbury in 1966 was 27/6d (less than £1.50), and as David recalls “with entrance fees not expensive, you could have a good day out and watch Sunderland lose in lots of different stadiums”.

A freakishly unexpected climate during the 1965/66 Season, caused a spate of postponements during a long cold Winter, which continued into a stormy April.  So unusually, both fixtures between Arsenal and Sunderland ended up being played within just a few days of each other at the end of April. The first, after several cancellations, took place on Wednesday 20th April at Roker Park (a 0-2 defeat for Sunderland), and then came the Highbury encounter on the Saturday.

For David Wallace, and his twin sister, who also joined him on the No.1 Supporters Coach for the match in London, the journey to London began on Friday midnight. The 50 capacity vehicles would leave Dundas Street in Sunderland, stopping at Jack’s Hill Café on the old A1, before ending up in Midland Road by St Pancras Station at 7am. “We then went to Euston Station for a wash and clean our teeth. Then up to Leicester Square for breakfast at Lyons Corner House. After spending time sightseeing, there was the obligatory visit to Carnaby Street to see if we could spot anyone famous. We got to the ground around midday, and took in a couple of pints at a local pub before the match”.

Photo used with the permission of David Wallace

David also has a photograph taken earlier on in the day of a smaller group of six Sunderland fans decked out in their red and white colours at the fountains of a deserted Trafalgar Square. That’s David in glasses second on the right, and his sister too, she’s second on the left. In the foreground a pigeon has remained rooted to the spot - a nice reminder of the days when the birds were an integral part of the Trafalgar Square experience. After breaking off into groups, many of the fans then re-united outside Highbury - a scene which David snapped for posterity. Studying the photo, I was intrigued by the way the fans are dressed - what’s the story behind their colours? In the days before fans spending a fortune on their obligatory replica kits, several of the women - including David’s sister kneeling at the front left – are wearing Sunderland team shirts. “They were bought from Willie Watson’s Sports Shop. Willie used to play for Sunderland, and is one of only a handful of players to have represented England at both football and cricket. The shop was run by his brother.” And what about the red Sunderland banner? “Well that was made by the lads from South Shields. They used to say ‘Ho Way’, rather than the more common ‘Ha’ Way’ (a term in the North East meaning ‘Come On’…)”

The official record of the attendance for the match was 25,699. So how many Sunderland fans made up the numbers? David reckons that there would have been no more than 150 from the Sunderland Supporters Association - that’s three coach loads - and perhaps the number would have been swelled by various supporters then living in and around London. Another group supporting Sunderland that day were Glasgow Rangers fans who would have gone to the match to see their beloved former half-back Jim Baxter, who that season had signed for Sunderland at a record fee for a Scottish player at that time.

Significantly, David feels that being a member of the Supporters Club gave him the opportunity to travel outside his home town. It was a family affair, as along with his sister, two of his aunts were stewards on the number 1 coach that they always took. Leaving the Sunderland area then known for its coal mines, they’d pay a visit to the Cobblers of Northampton (shoe makers), the (stainless steel) Blades of Sheffield United, or even the Hatters of Luton Town. Along with the education about homes of British manufacturing, there was the drinking culture too. After the match at Highbury - which ended up a 1-1 draw by the way - the supporters took off for session in Soho. Even before their 11pm rendezvous at the coaches in Midland Road, they’d gulp down a couple of drinks for the road at the Euston Tavern.

On a weekend, the long travelling and the boozing could just about be slept off before work again on Monday. But what about those away matches on weekdays? “I had a really great foreman called Ray Brown who used to let me work Tuesday and Thursday evenings to make up for lost time. I had to work the overtime at normal rate which never bothered me, but it did upset the shop steward. I wasn’t in the union, so I never took any notice of what he had to say anyway! By the way, Ray’s youngest son happens to be Jeff Brown, BBC Newcastle’s TV anchor. Years later I’d bring back away game programmes for Jeff when he used to come along with his father to the factory when we were working on Saturday mornings”.

But all the drinking had to be done when the fans were off-road. The Supporters Association had a strict no alcohol policy on the coaches. If anyone broke the rules then they would be barred from travelling. Back then, because of the low cost compared to taking the train or if you owned a car, it was the only way for ordinary fans to get to away games. In the Sunderland home programme for the weekday match versus Arsenal, there’s a piece about the Supporters Association’s coach trip to Highbury for the ‘return’ game in the regular ‘At the Sign of the Black Cat’ column. The tone is formal and school-masterly “Please remember that you must bring your membership card with you on the coach, and that we expect a high standard of conduct…”

John Tennick, who is mentioned in the article, was the transport organiser. He can be seen in the Avenell Road picture, the older gentleman standing to the left of the female fan with the red anorak and scarf and hat. The column was written by Stanley Lambert, a local solicitor and the chairman of the Sunderland Supporters Association. David remembers him as being “a strict get here on time, or the bus leaves without you” type, who once was left behind at an Aston Villa away match because he was late for the bus home!

Following Sunderland away from home over many years inevitably had its fair share of memorable moments “from sleeping in railway stations and in a chicken farm, to lying on the floor of the coach when all the windows were put in after a game at Wolves, and then having to drive up to Nottingham to get a replacement bus home” - but my favourite of David’s stories was the trip to West Bromwich Albion when a special guest had asked if he could travel with the supporters to an away game.

“The great Brian Clough was arranging his testimonial match, and he wanted to spend some time with the fans (he was a star striker for Sunderland between 1961-64). He boarded the coach, and sat on the front seat which had been roped off so no one else could sit there. The extra space was because of his knee injury. We all had a good time on the way to the match, and Cloughie chatted away and signed autographs for everyone. Well we got beat again, and we went to the Throstles Club at West Brom for a quick drink before setting off for home. We all were in a jovial mood despite having lost on our travels again. Brian Clough got on the coach - and well, we all got a right bollocking from him for laughing and carrying on after we’ve been beaten. He yelled “how can you be happy when your team has just lost and been outplayed”. Goodness knows how he would have behaved after one of his teams had been beaten. It showed the passion the man had – and what a loss to football he was when he died”.

For many years I’ve owned a copy of Arsenal v Sunderland matchday programme for the 1965/66 fixture, but haven’t re-read it up to now. In the line ups that day, I can see that the home team had five players who would go on to win the League and FA Cup Double for Arsenal in 1970/71. However, at the time it was all doom and gloom in the ‘Voice of Arsenal’ editorial: “rarely before in the club’s history have points been so vital to us as they are at the present time as we are striving so hard to break this sequence without a win”. After the 1-1 draw with Sunderland, Arsenal would lose their next three games 0-3. Only 4,554 fans turned out for the next home fixture, an all-time low in the club’s history, and manager Billy Wright would be sacked that Summer. Sunderland finished the season just 3 points above the relegation zone, and would end the decade in Division Two. 

However, their goalkeeper Jim Montgomery, who played in that April ’66 fixture (though he's not in the above 1965/66 team photo), would seven years later lift the FA Cup Trophy for the 2nd Division Sunderland team - who had beaten Arsenal in the Semi-Final, and then Leeds United in the famous 1973 Final.

David Wallace continued to follow Sunderland home and away until marriage, children and then working overseas meant less time to watch his heroes. In the meantime, he would also follow the fortunes of the other sides from the North East. “I saw Newcastle win the Fairs Cup, Middlesbrough winning promotion to the old 3rd Division when Jack Charlton was their manager, and even Darlington getting promoted as well. So I have seen four North East teams win something, and I don’t suppose many people will be able to say that!” Up to now, David has seen Sunderland play in 76 different stadiums. 

David was nearly 18 years old when he took his picture of “Sunderland Supporters @ Arsenal” in 1966. He continued to work for the very same engineering company whose foreman gave him time out to watch Sunderland play. In fact, he would stay there for 46 years - and ended up as the managing director “and worked all over the world”. By the way, along with the photograph in Avenell Road (which is a copy, as David still owns the original print), I did pick up a copy of Sunderland’s classic pocked-sized match day programme on eBay. It was, of course, for the home match versus Arsenal that was played just a few days before David and fellow members of the Sunderland Supporters Association took Coach No.1 to London on April 23rd 1966.

Alan Dein, 15th September 2020

With many thanks to David Wallace

Pleas keep checking in with graphic designer Matt Caldwell's '1/-' Instagram site for updates about our forthcoming book on the Revolution in design of Football Programmes 1965-1985

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Where's the Public Telephone Box? Part 7

A quick return call to some earlier examples of public telephone boxes that I've spotted in old British postcards. The previous post highlighted colour cards which showcased modern cityscapes - images that mostly depicted shopping high streets or districts, and newly constructed town centres.

This time let's go back to the rustic and the traditional town or village landscapes - all which have a phone box placed somewhere within the composition.

Chard, Somerest

Croyde, Devon


Midlothian, Scotland

Great Cheverell, Wiltshire

Haworth, Yorkshire


Ludlow, Shropshire

Mawnan Smith, Cornwall


Swinton Post Office, Greater Manchester

Wiston Post Office, Sussex

Brasted, Kent