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The following account was compiled in 1961 by my great-uncle Charles Kilford Hanratty, who was born in Jarrow in 1896. He was a well-known figure in Tyneside footballing circles, having played for Jarrow St Bede's as a young man, and later acting as a referee in local leagues. He also managed St Bede's for a period in the 1960's, and in 1967 became the secretary of the South Shields and District League. I am grateful to his son, Jerome Hanratty, for permission to reproduce this interesting history. I have added some revisions and footnotes to fill in gaps where I could, and to include events in the club's history after 1961. This is an on-going process, so please call back regularly for the latest updates.
The banner above shows one of St Bede's school teams playing at Belsfield circa 1952. To download a short movie from which these images have been taken click here (format Windows Media Player® - 0.7Mb)
In 1894 the parochial school of St Bede's, Jarrow, the third Voluntary School to be opened in England, was staffed by the teaching order of Marist Brothers. Following the tradition of their Scottish origins, they were keen to foster football in Jarrow and built up a school team, giving them the same colours as Glasgow Celtic, which, in turn, had originated from the Brothers' school of St Mungo's in Glasgow 1.
Initially, two elevens were fielded under the charge of Bros Bernard and Leo, assisted by Dick Curry, the only lay teacher on the staff (and, later, Head Teacher at Felling) 2. These teams were known as the Jarrow Hibernians, and played regularly against the few and widely scattered schools which had also taken up the game. Among these were their great rivals, Todd's Nook of Newcastle, Chadwick Memorial school and Southwick Board of Sunderland, and apparently an early score against one of them was 19-0!
The Sambotee tea company, based in Newgate Street, Newcastle, donated a trophy known as the Sambotee Cup to encourage junior football. This was promptly annexed by the Hibernians who beat Todd's Nook 1-0 in 1896 in the Final at Hebburn Argyle's ground, after a previous 1-1 draw. The team on that occasion was: Duggan, Barnwell, White, McLarney, McLaughlin, McGuire, Duffy, Connelly, McAlain, McGuinness, Lindsay. The winning goal was scored by Jimmy Duffy.
The performance was repeated in 1896; on 25th January Hibs disposed of Bill Quay 7-1 at Bill Quay, and in the final Southwick Board went under by six clear goals. Hibs appear to have lost only one game that season, when they met the 'Wallsend Workers' - a scratch team made up from all the leading clubs in Wallsend. The occasion was a fund-raising match for the benefit of a Mrs Collins, whose husband had drowned in Willington Gut. The Hibs started well, and were leading 2-1 at half time, but their opponents scored twice in the second half to win the match 3-2. The scorers for Hibs were Lavery and Connelly. Other names found in that spell include Munroe and Herbert. McLarney and Lavery later played for Hebburn Argyle, then Manchester United and Swindon, and Chris Duffy saw service with Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Bury, gaining a League Champions medal with Newcastle in 1906.
Their schooldays over, the Hibs became known as St Bede's 3 and, with recruitment from later school-leavers, kept the flag flying in what was then known as the South Shields Junior League, gaining that league's championship in season 1901-2 (age limits for junior teams did not apply then). In the school itself the pupils' roll was increasing, more lay teachers were appointed, less Brothers were active, and in 1906 the Marists left the town altogether, having set the seal on what has become a club of tradition, with junior and senior football an integral part of the parish unit 4. Without the Brothers, school football had a recession as a more general organisation of schools' football was still quite a long way off. Adult football, however, with Bede's always there, was giving good value. These were the days of Hebburn Argyle, Jarrow Croft and Jarrow Caledonians (later to combine as Jarrow F.C. and pass on Geordie Keenleyside to Div 2 South Shields and Wally Clarke to Middlesbrough), and South Shields Adelaide (later to become South Shields FC). St Bede's operated from the Church Institute, established first in Ormonde Street, then in Walter Street and later in Chapel Road (in what had been the Brothers' House during their tenure at the school) where it became known as the Parochial Working Men's Club. 5
As time went on, all kinds of minor leagues were formed up and down the Tyne, and in the First World War period we find St Bede's competing in the Newcastle and District Amateur League.
The Inter-War Years
In the 1921-2 season they never won a match but gained a reputation for their prowess in singing in the bath whilst their conquerors wrangled over tactical errors! However, in the following year (1922-3) St Bede's had two teams in competition with other parishes in the Tyneside Catholic League, but only for that one season. The second team carried off the Div 2 Championship but the first team found fierce opposition from Hebburn St Aloysius and Bill Quay Hibs. After the previous season's poor showing this revival cheered the heart of hard-working secretary, Chicky Mackin, and the two elevens were encouraged to pit their skills in the South Tyne Alliance and Shields and District League (which included Jarrow and Hebburn).
The 1920's were exciting years for local minor football, and some of the teams were: Hebburn St Aloysius, Hebburn St Cuthbert's, Jarrow Rangers, Jarrow Springwell, Jarrow St Paul's, S.S. Corinthians (with St Paul's, the only teams Bede's never defeated), Green Lane, Simonside, North Shields' Victory. All these live now only in the memory, but St Bede's has yet to see demise. Almost every match in those days could command an attendance of anything up to 2000, not a 'gate' as most of the games were played on open pitches with a remarkable absence of grass 6. So intense could a struggle be that on one occasion on St Paul's pebbly ground (not one blade of grass), the St Bede' centre half, Jim Walsh, troubled with nails in his boots, discarded them and played the second half in his stockinged feet. No honours were won in this period, the nearest being a Cup Final against Jarrow Christ Church at Jarrow F.C.'s Curlew Road ground when they succumbed by the odd goal in three, after three previous drawn games.
For more positive results one had to look to the youngsters - and the future. Organised football for schools had begun in 1910 with the Oswald Shield competition and, allowing for the two wars, this trophy was won nine times by St Bede's school (including a seven year successive run) and shared once. The Schools' League began in 1920 and, in its first eight years, St Bede' were champions all eight times, then won it four times in the next sixteen. In one eight-year period in the 20's, with three trophies per year for which to compete, St Bede's collected 23 trophies out of the possible 24. These included the League's Charity Shield, the Victoria Cup, the John Wigham Cup, the Hebburn Nursing Cup, the school's Intermediate League and Cup, and the Waugh Cup. These successes were matched by some considerable scoring feats. In one game, in the East End Park, after the score had reached 32-0 in favour of Bede's, the referee disallowed the next 7 goals then applied closure to the game, only 40 minutes having been played. In a practice match to find the best English Schools Shield District side, St Bede's played a District 'Rest' eleven on the Mercantile ground and scored 11 goals without reply in the first 20 minutes. Calling a halt, the referee bluntly gave his opinion on how the District team should be constituted. The following set of photographs records some of those talented teams of the 1920's.
In 1930 the Durham County Association gave recognition to talent by awarding County caps, and these were gained by: Gerard Woods (1933), Pat Barrett (1934), T. Duffy (1935), Pat Woods (1936), Peter Dolan (1937) and Joe Brown (1937). A feature of Pat Barrett's selection is that he played four times for the County at centre forward - however, he was the St Bede's regular goalkeeper!
Since the Club started 27 of its members have been signed up by Football League (or SFL) clubs. In alphabetical order: Pat Barrett (Gateshead), Louis Botto (Wolves), Joe Brown (Darlington), Joe Burke (New Brighton), Leo Callaghan (Darlington) Dick Connor (Grimsby), Peter Dolan (Grimsby), Terence Doran (Gateshead), Mick Dowling (Sheffield Wednesday & Lincoln City), Chris Duffy (Newcastle United), Danny Edgar (Sunderland), Jack English (Sheffield United), John Flynn (Hartlepool), Martin Joyce (Darlington), Pat Joyce (Norwich City), John Lavery (Barnsley & Leeds City), Henry Leonard (Bradford), Billy McGhee (Hibernian). George McGhee (Hibernian), Pat McLarney (Manchester United), Chris Marron (Chesterfield), Frank Mullen (Hull City), Raymond O'Connor (Portsmouth), Michael Quinn (Darlington), George Storey (Darlington), Gerard Woods (Darlington), Pat Woods (Newcastle United)
During the 1930's the skill of the youngsters had matured into outstanding results for their seniors in the Jarrow and District League where the local-derby atmosphere was keen. St Paul's, Corinthians, Victory, Palmers and Jarrow Gasworks had closed down and been replaced by equally formidable rivals such as East Jarrow United, the Rose and Crown, Bill Quay Corinthians, Rose Villa, Jarrow Imperials, Reyrolles, Felling Red Star and Hebburn St Aloysius. St Bede's also took part in the South Tyne Alliance, and in the newly formed Jarrow and District Junior League, and at one time had as many as four sides representing the club, one of which won the North East Durham Junior Cup. In 1930 their senior team won the Universe Cup (for Catholic teams), beating Hartlepool St Joseph's, in the only season in which they took part in that competition. In 1932-3 they secured the League Championship as early as February. Their home ground at this time was Carter's Field, located near Bilton Hall on the south side of the Newcastle-Shields Railway. Their nearest rivals, East Jarrow United, played at Rooney's Field, near Lake House Farm on the other side of the Railway.
In 1933-4 St Bede's were again too strong for many of their rivals. East Jarrow United learned this to their cost when they were hammered 16-2 in the first round of the Durham Amateur Cup on 18th November. The 'Evening Chronicle' carried the following report of the game: "The first round of the Durham Amateur Cup saw four Jarrow & District League Clubs engaged on Saturday. Jarrow St Bede's had a field day running up a total of 16 against East Jarrow United's 2. Financially the game was a failure, also the performance of East Jarrow is hard to understand as they are the only team to have taken a point from the Saints in a league game. Edgar, the centre-forward, had a field day, scoring 8, and Brown, outside-right, 3".
On 2nd April 1934 (Easter Monday) they won the Ingham Infirmary Cup, the first club from Jarrow to win this trophy for 24 years, the last being Jarrow Caledonians. They did this in some style, marching down to Middle Dock's ground in a procession headed by St Aloysius drum and fife band and triumphantly marched back with the Cup after a 2-1 win over Whitburn, Tommy Edgar notching both goals, the winner just on the final whistle, a header from a corner from Joe Brown. This was followed up on 28th April with a 4-3 win over Gateshead Celtic at Brandling Park to win the Heddon Homes Cup. The table below shows that having completed their season, St Bede's had a lead of 10 points over their nearest rivals, and for the second season in succession they finished as Champions.
Danny Edgar, one of St Bede's stalwarts, had joined Walsall as a professional in 1930, and by 1934 was playing for Sunderland. To celebrate St. Bede's successful season, and to raise money for school developments, he raised a team to take on St Bede's at Campbell Park on 7th May. (The photograph above may well have been taken on that occasion). 7
After the war years, it was one of the school teams which first won a trophy, in 1947-8. The name of the trophy is unknown, but the team is believed to have been the under-13 side.
The adult team had a revival in the 1950's. They joined the Washington Amateur League in season 1951-2 8, won the championship of this in the same year and were runners-up in the succeeding two. They also secured the League Challenge Cup in 1952-3 and were finalists in the Washington Aged Miners Cup in 1952-3 and 1953-4, and their goal difference during this period was 366 for and 117 against, an average of 3-0 per game.
The Chairman during this successful decade was Mick Scullion, and during his time the team had a notable run in the Durham County Challenge Cup in season 1953-4. They commenced their progression through the preliminary rounds in September 1953, and disposed of Washington C.W., Birtley R.O.F., Boldon C.W., Silksworth C.W. and Sunderland West End before coming up against the North Eastern League Club West Stanley in the first round proper. West Stanley took an early lead, as expected, but to the astonishment of all, and the delight of their supporters, St Bede's rallied and beat the semi-professional side by 3-1, with goals from Conroy (2) and Peterson. In the course of these six ties they had scored 23 times and conceded only 8 goals. The teams they beat were no pushovers - Boldon C.W. were the reigning Wearside League champions, and Silksworth C.W. went on that season to win the Sunderland Shipowners' Cup. Immediately after his match-winning performance against West Stanley, Phil Conroy was signed up by Shildon, but retained his place in the St Bede's team for the duration of the Cup run.
In the 2nd round they were drawn away to Bishop Auckland, then at the height of their amateur-cup successes. The match was scheduled for 13th February, at Bishop's Kingsway ground. On the day of the match a cavalcade of coaches carried St Bede's supporters from Jarrow to Bishop Auckland, only to discover that the game had been postponed owing to the poor state of the pitch. Bishop Auckland had made no attempt to contact the Jarrow side. This led to bitter exchanges between the clubs, Mick Scullion claiming that the referee had called off the game at 12:45, a full half-hour before the first bus had departed from Jarrow, and a formal protest was submitted to the Durham F.A.
The match was rearranged for 27th February, and Bishops took no chances, including no less than 7 internationals (amateur) in their Northern League side. The result was a foregone conclusion. On the crest of a wave, the hopeful Bedes brought some 40 bus loads of supporters to Bishop Auckland, only to see their team well whacked in a score of 13-2. Just to rub it in, St Bede's missed an early penalty, and their first goal was the result of Bishops' right-back putting the ball in his own net. As the game slipped further and further away from the Jarrow men one of the priests who had accompanied the team noticed an old stalwart from the 1920's, Billy "Hurricane" Hutchinson, nervously fingering his rosary beads. "I think it's too late for that, Billy," he said. "I'm not saying my prayers - I'm keeping count of the score!" was the reply. 9 And as the coaches pulled away for the long journey home a Bishops' spectator bade them farewell with the words: "You lads'll have to go to Confession tonight!" 10
An interesting sidelight - in the semi-final a fortnight later Bishop Auckland turned out a complete reserve team against Spennymoor United, for which Durham F.A. fined them £50. Had the Bishops' so treated the minor Bede's - who knows? 11 Sadly, St Bede's had reached a peak in their fortunes from which the only way was down. Always stretched for resources, they had fielded only twelve players during the season, and the following season they suffered the ignominious fate of having to resign from the league mid-way through the campaign when unable to fulfil their fixtures. There followed a five-year period (1955-60) in the Tyneside Amateur League during which St Bede's were twice champions, twice runners-up and winners of the League Shield. The 2nd team at this time was playing in the South Shields and District League.
An incident occurred around 1958-9 which soured the atmosphere in the club. When playing at Belsfield, the players used to change in a hut owned by the Air Training Corps in Belsfield Gardens. During one match a fire broke out in the hut. When the fire engine arrived, it shot straight past - up York Avenue. A motorcyclist who was following noticed the men waving frantically and pursued it. When it eventually got to the hut the firemen were able to prevent the flames spreading to the rest of the building, but the room containing the players' clothes and possessions was destroyed. The Committee placed a notice in the club advising players to get themselves kitted out at Burtons, for which the club would pay, as it had a moral responsibility to compensate them. One of the priests in the parish commented rather forcefully that as laymen they were not competent to pronounce on matters of "moral responsibility". This created immense bad-feeling, and caused some members to sever their connection with the club. 12
The sixties did not begin well. Season 1960-1 was a blank because of financial problems and loss of ground. However, thanks to strenuous efforts by Peter Gilmartin and Jimmy Kelly, the club was re-formed and in 1961 joined the South Shields and District League Division 2.
Charles K. Hanratty - 1961
revised and extended by Patrick Brennan - 2005, 2006
The Modern Era
Although the club only managed to finish in mid-table (Division 1) in season 1966-7, they participated in a number of thrilling games which would have given their loyal supporters tremendous entertainment - providing their nerves could stand it! In the game against Jarrow Ex-Servicemen's Club on 28th January 1967 they were 1-0 down at half-time thanks to a Peter Melia goal. In the second half both teams were bogged down in the mud before left half Dennis Shippen equalised. St Bede's lasted the pace better, and Whitfield scored two goals against his former club, giving St Bede's a 3-1 win. In the match report St Bede's winger John Shirren was singled out for special mention for having played a storming game despite having worked the Friday nightshift.
The following week they played a 4-4 draw against Elsy & Gibbons in the Boldon Aged Miners' Cup, having come from behind 4 times. The replay was staged on the 11th February, and this time St Bede's took an early lead through Syms. Dennis Shippen then converted a penalty to extend the lead to 2 goals, but their opponents fought back and scored three times to take a 3-2 lead. Right winger Harry Barker levelled the game again, but once more Elsy scored to take the lead. Dennis Shippen was given another opportunity from the spot which he did not waste, and then two minutes from time Tony Shippen scored a thrilling goal to give St Bede's a 5-4 victory!
At the time the League was dominated by Bedewell 'A', who had lost only one game - to St Bede's. When the teams met again on 25th February Bedewell had 26 points to St Bede's 6, and were out for revenge. The game was played in a cup-tie atmosphere, and twice Bedewell went ahead, only for St Bede's to equalise. The 'Saints', as they were known in the pages of the Shields Gazette, then took the lead themselves, only to see Bedewell level the score. Five minutes from time Bedewell were awarded a penalty, which they converted, to run out 4-3 winners. The scorers for St Bede's were Harry Barker, Dave McCaffery and Dennis Shippen.
The game at Metupa on 4th March 1967 was exciting for a different reason. Metupa were languishing at the bottom of the League, having only three points to show from 12 games, and mid-way through the first half fighting broke out on the pitch, which resulted in each side having a player sent off. After the interval Harry Barker opened the scoring for St Bede's, and Dave McCaffery then sealed the victory after a mistake by the Metupa goalkeeper.
The season ended with Bedewell not only being Champions, but also having won all trophies available to league members. They were clearly too good for this level of opposition, and switched to the Washington Amateur League for the 1967-8 season.
The St Bede's Manager, Charles Hanratty, took over as Secretary of the South Shields and District League at the start of the 1967-8 season.
In 1981-2 St Bede's once more joined the Washington League, then known as the Savacentre Washington League, and had a good run in their first season, holding the top spot from October 1981 until April 1982. They were hotly pursued by Herrington Colliery Welfare, who had won the championship in the previous two seasons. Their form started to slip early in the New Year, and by mid-February Herrington CW had cut their lead to only three points. The crunch came in w/c 4th April when they had three fixtures to fulfil. They successfully disposed of Sunderland Forge 3-2 with goals from Steve Southern, Ray Brown and Ian Foster, but were then defeated 1-0 by Cleadon Social Club in a match they should have won. To round off a dismal week they were then knocked out in the semi-final of the Durham Minor Cup by Billingham St Michaels, and the final injury was seeing Herrington CW take over as league leaders thanks to two fine wins over Hylton (3-1 away, 5-0 at home) and Sunderland Forge (5-1). With 7 games still to play St Bede's made a heroic effort to regain the lost ground, but in the final analysis Herrington were Champions with 57 points, and St Bede's had to be content with second place - only 1 point behind. They also won the League Challenge Cup for the second time in their history.
Although St Bede's made a good start to the 1982-3 season, being 4th in the table after a quarter of the season, they fell back and finished the campaign somewhat disappointingly, in the bottom half of the table.
The 1984-5 season commenced with a shock for the previous season's champions Pelton Fell, who found themselves at the bottom of the table after losing their first four games. This unusual state of affairs was compounded by the fact that the previous seasons wooden-spooners, Washington Glebe, were proudly occupying top spot with a 100% record. St Bede's too had a somewhat pedestrian start, taking only five points from their first four matches. Despite the shaky start, St Bede's soon found their form, and by the end of April 1985 were once again in second place, thanks to victories such as an 11-0 thrashing of Hepolite. Goals came from Michael Hocking (3), Gil Hocking (3), Peter Duggan (2), Tony Mackintosh (2) and Kevin Bradley. This time however they had no hopes of the championship as the leaders, Cleadon SC, held a 9 point lead. Pelton Fell had recovered from their shocking start and were in third place, only one point behind St Bede's after having had two points deducted for a misdemeanour.
St Bede's commenced the 1985-6 season in better style than the previous one, beating AEI Birtley 8-3 on 24th August. Peter Duggan (2), Ian Robson (2), Michael Hocking (2) and Kevin Gardner got the goals, but the defence were due a talking to as they allowed AEI to creep back in with three goals from being 6-0 down.
After the 1987-8 season St Bede's once more resigned from the Washington Amateur League.
Patrick Brennan - 2005, 2006
1. The Marist Brothers were founded in France in January 1817, by Marcellin Champagnat, a young French priest. In 1852 the Brothers first came to London and opened schools in the poor districts of the East End. In 1858 they came to Glasgow and started St. Mungo's Academy. A member of the order, Brother Walfrid Kerins, founded Glasgow Celtic Football Club in 1888.
2. Richard Curry, a native of Haltwhistle, was also a popular full-back for Jarrow AFC, but a broken leg sustained in December 1893 while studying at Hammersmith Training College gave him recurring problems. The picture adjacent is taken from the Evening Chronicle of 18th January 1896.
3. In fact, a senior St Bede's team had already existed for some time; the Shields Gazette of 12th October 1887 records an encounter between St Bede's and Jarrow Wanderers on 8th October. St Bede's won 2-0. On 31st December of that year they played Priory Rovers, another Catholic team, winning 2-1. In the return game at home on 14th January 1888 St Bede's were winning 1-0 in the second half when the ball burst, putting an end to the match. Their secretary at this time was James Daley, of 46 Catherine Street.
St Bede's were also the fourth team to play the newly-formed South Shields club in their first season, and defeated them 7-1 at South Shields on 11th April 1889.
In a later season St Bede's beat Jarrow Rangers 3-2 in the first round of the Durham Junior cup on 28th January 1893. This game took place on Rangers' home ground of Gateshead Road. St Bede's team on the day was Cassidy, Joe Kane, Kilcoyne, Bennett, McLarney, M. Murphy, Brady, J. Kane, Mullen, Roberts, P. Murphy.
4. The Marist Brothers' departure from the school came as the result of a decision by the local Education Committee not to recognise their training qualifications. At the time the Liberal Government was attempting to effectively nationalise Catholic schools through the Education Act Amendment Bill.
5. The working men's club, renamed the Parish Centre, later relocated to the old Co-op offices on the corner of Hill Street and Albert Road, and remained there until the mid 1990's.
6. In later years St Bede's played at Belsfield, which was a gift to the parish from Canon Mackin. To mark his Silver Jubilee in 1920 the parish presented him with a cheque for £830, with which he purchased a field, intending it to be the site for a new school. It was never used for this purpose, and served instead as a parish playing field. It was bounded to the south by Butcher's Bridge, to the east by Springwell Park, to the north by the playing fields of Jarrow Grammar, and to the west by Bede Burn Road, on the far side of Belsfield House and the old wooden buildings of St Matthews's Church. The pitch was anything but flat; from the west end the ground rose steeply, reaching its peak at the far 18 yard box, from where it dipped sharply to the goal. A well struck drive from this vantage point was almost impossible to stop. The site is now occupied by a housing estate.
7. Campbell Park was at the time the home ground of Jarrow FC, although located in Hebburn. The site is now occupied by housing, namely Clegwell Terrace, Hatfield Avenue and Palmer Terrace.
8. The Washington Amateur League was formed on April 4th 1932 by a group of local business men. It originally comprised 15 clubs, nearly all from the Washington District. The League was suspended during the War, and re-formed in 1949. In 1996 its name was changed to the Durham Alliance. It continued under this title until 2015 when the Durham Alliance Combination was formed as a merger of the Durham Alliance and the Wearside Combination, but this arrangement only lasted 3 seasons. In 2018 it was absorbed into the Wearside League.
9. Private communication from Eddie McIntyre.
10. Following the match postponement, my father wrote a letter of complaint to the "News Chronicle", which closed with the words "...would this have happened to Pegasus?" (Pegasus were, at the time, one of the strongest amateur clubs in the south of England.) After the 13-2 defeat he returned home to find my mother had erected a banner in the living room which read "Bishop Auckland 13, St Bede's 2 - would this have happened to Pegasus?" He saw the funny side of it.
11. Bishops were treated a little harshly by the Durham FA. They had played 55 games that season, including six in a pre-season tour of Rhodesia, and a pile-up of fixtures at the end of the season had led their reserve side to withdraw from the league. On the day of the Spennymoor match they had four first team members taking part in representative games and several players unfit. In view of their contemptuous treatment of St Bede's however, they probably deserved it. Incidentally, Spennymoor won the game 6-1.
12. I recall this incident well, as it was myself and Martin O'Connor who first noticed the fire and raised the alarm.
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