Members of 1940s Dagenham primary school football team meet again
- Credit: David Wade
Four squadmates from 1948’s cup-winning football team from Hunters Hall Primary School in Dagenham have reunited.
The meeting followed a search for old teammates by ex-West Ham footballer Harry Obeney, who made two dozen appearances for the Hammers, and his Hunters Hall pal David Wade.
Four men eventually made it back to their old school after the pair tracked down names from an old photograph.
Graham Hellberg and Tony Mansfield joined the Harry and David. Mr Hellberg, the ex-captain and centre forward, came all the way from New Zealand.
Mr Hellberg and Mr Wade visited the current Hunters Hall and spoke to the pupils there.
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They were asked about their time at school during wartime and things like food rationing, as well as about what they did after they left school.
“We told them we had the air raid shelter in the playground. We had toilets at the back with no roof on them—not because of damage, but because that’s they way they were designed,” said Mr Wade.
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“The children asked us when we were coming back again.”
“Quite frankly, when we saw the first class I had tears in my eyes just seeing these little—well they’re actually quite big lads these days, at ten years of age.
“The atmosphere in the school that we saw was very lively. All the kids were very enthusiastic and bright.”
The two ex-players even met the current Hunters Hall team.
At the school they were shown the old punishment book. Whenever the cane was used to punish a pupil, it went in the book.
Mr Wade laughed: “It was fully described, you know, ‘Two on the hand and two on the buttocks.’”
While all the men are in their mid-80s, Mr Wade says they’re still fit—there’s not a Zimmer frame in sight.
“If it’s been over 70 years since you’ve seen someone you just imagine what they look like,” added Mr Wade.
“Harry—who’s the oldest—actually looked the youngest. But we’re all quite fit.”
Mr Wade and Mr Manfield are both still playing golf, with Mr Hellberg keeping at tennis in New Zealand.
All the men are now 81-years-old.