Villagers’ jealousy and cries of foul at Freddy’s transfer’
THE opinions aroused on all sides by the recent King s ransom in the Ronaldo transfer reminds me of a football move which provoked similar passions, despite being at the other end of the scale. Other ends, in fact, was what it was all about, if I may ex
THE opinions aroused on all sides by the recent King's ransom in the Ronaldo transfer reminds me of a football "move" which provoked similar passions, despite being at the other end of the scale.
Other ends, in fact, was what it was all about, if I may explain.
The parish on which us 'vaccies were dumped 70 years ago, embraced two main focal points. Less than a flat mile apart, each had a church, a hall, post office, shop, pubs - and a barely concealed disparaging attitude toward the other.
Rarely did either condescend to use their neighbours' proper name both habitually calling them "the other end". It's the traditional half-jocular, half-serious carry on common to such places.
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The September 1939 evacuation thrust the evacuees into this, with no choice in the matter. Thus some friends and school mates back home found themselves apart on opposite sides of the "other end" dividing line.
Me and Freddy Tanner, both from East Ham's Stanford Road, were among those.
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It was no big deal to us. Freddy was two years older, in a different Hartley Avenue Junior class, and not a close mate, living a few doors down across the road.
Housed at different ends of the village, however, we saw even less of each other as 'vaccies. In those early days things were often chaotic as the village strove to adjust to the invasion of scores of Londoners.
For example, in that autumn's fine weather we played football more than we had lessons, as a way to relieve classroom overcrowding.
So it was on the school's meadow Freddy and me mostly saw each other at that time, in opposition.
Headteacher Mr Cudby kept some order in those 20-a-side games, occasionally disrupting the action with a huge punt. It was he who put Freddy to guarding the other end's goal, setting in train the events which led to bitterness between the other ends.
The footer was coats down stuff, no goalposts or crossbar to expose stocky Freddy's lack of inches. But he was soon defying us with displays that played a big part in the dispiriting run of defeats at our end.
It would have remained like that had not fellow vaccy Fred Riches gone home to East Ham, creating an unexpected opening for Freddy to move up to our end of the village.
With foster-homes getting a government stipend for housing evacuees - a few bob very welcome - it wasn't easy for Freddy to quit where he was. A good reason to do so was needed. That we hailed from the same E6 street provided it.
The other end went predictably potty.
Cornered in the playground, I was quizzed about the Stanford Road connection. "You're just saying that" they raged.
Nor were they inclined to believe supporting evidence from the Wastell sisters, whose folks had the fried fish shop in Barking Road.
By chance, Freddy's uncle Alf and aunt Doris came from East Ham to live in the village, and confirmed the story.
We strengthened it by keeping regular company, as good mates would, despite the age difference.
The other end's fury simmered on as, and with Freddy more impressive than ever, we turned the footer tide.
But it all backfired horribly. Up our place one day, spud-ucking with me, he put the fork in his toes. Hospital treatment needed, it ended his goalkeeping and his days with us.
His parents promptly had him back in Stamford Road, the Luftwaffe preferable to the perils of country life.
The other end were all unsympathetic in "cheats never prosper" jubilation about losing Freddy.
Much of the steam was taken out of the situation when the footer stopped almost at the same time as Freddy left.
With 'vaccies fleeing back home in increasing numbers, the school was no longer too full.
That didn't stop the other end's comments about our unsporting behaviour concerning Freddy's "transfer". Real Sir Alex, some of it.
But not even the most rabid other ender would have wanted Freddy to have copped the much nastier foot injury he suffered a decade later from an AP mine in Korea.
There's a limit to our other end rivalry.