Joe Dixon’s

Football Memories



Ryhope Poplars (Pops)

If you have looked at this page before you will realise that I have made some changes to it. My memory of 40+ years ago is not as good as I thought it was. Without realising it, a team photo I copied from actually had a date on its back which differs from the season I thought it related to. I have no doubt that this date would be the correct one. Unfortunately it does affect other parts of the website and hopefully I can correct things soon. As the great Eric Morecambe might have said ’ the memories are correct but not necessarily in the right order‘.

The 'Pops' played in the Hetton CIU League and played its games on Saturday mornings. Its home ground was that of Ryhope CW and Ryhope CA.

Playing for the ‘Pops’ was fun and I loved every minute of my time there. We were never going to win anything but we always gave our best. It was a club with such humour in the dressing room that even if you lost you could still leave the ground with a smile on your face despite hurting badly inside.

The photo below, courtesy of my good friend Jimmy Tumilty, was taken at our home ground (Ryhope CW's). Jimmy has the honour of scoring the clubs first ever goal in the Hetton CIU League. It was a home game against one of the Hetton teams and unfortunately it was in a 2-1 defeat.

1966 - 1967

     Back from left :-    Les Bousefield, Kevin Dosh, Fankie Gilmore, Alan Davison, Ernie Carlin,                                Kenny Vose, Brian Rice, Joe Dixon and Billy Graham

     Front from left :-    Jimmy Tumilty, Billy Anderson, Norman Baird and Alan Blackburn.


The photo below was taken in January 1968 after a game against Murton 'Vic' and their ground was next to the Murton Colliery Welfare ground. One of the things that springs to mind from the photograph was a comment made by Ernie Carlin after the match. As you can see from the photo Ernie had obviously headed the muddy ball during the game and he said he wouldn't wash it off for a week because it looked like hair.

If only we could have matched our performances with the humour in the dressing room we would have won the league comfortably.

1967 - 1968

      Back  from  left :-  Mr Rice (Brians dad), Alan Davison, Kevin Dosh, Kenny Vose, Frankie Gilmore,                                 Brian Rice, John Riley and Jimmy Wallace

      Front  from  left :-  Brian Baird, Joe Dixon, Norman Baird, Freddie Crowe and Ernie Carlin (Player                                 and Trainer)


Other players who played at this time included :-

                                                          Stan Cowie
                                                        Gordon Baird
                                                          Harry Orrell
                                                          Alfie Todner
                                                   Ronnie (Dykie) Bewick
                                                          Phil Cooper
                                                          Jimmy Dent
                                                           Billy Vose
I apologise for other players who I've failed to remember. But I would love to be reminded.


A fond memory, and a fairly unique one at that, was in a game against Pallion WMC who were by far the best team in the league at that time. I scored with my second shot of the game without any of my team mates touching the ball.

They kicked off and the ball was played back to a midfielder who immediately played a square pass which I intercepted. As I took the ball in my stride it left me in the clear to score. However the goalkeeper blocked my first shot and I scored from the rebound. The time was well under 10 seconds as I only had to sprint about 35-40 yards or so from the kickoff before shooting.

Most of their team, instead of finger pointing and blaming each other, just laughed. They obviously saw the funny side of it and that they knew they would still win the match. And guess what they did.


Another nice memory was playing alongside Norman Baird. He was a quality centre foward who had previously played for Shildon in the Northern League after he left junior football. I'm not sure why he wasn't still playing at a higher level then as he is just 3 years older than me. I learnt a lot from Norman and it was nice to join up with him again when I later went back to play for Ryhope YC.

An interesting incident happened in a game through at Seaham. Norman was forever being pushed and shoved, because of his power in the air, whenever we had a corner or free kick. Norman got a bit fed up with this as the referee seemed to ignore what was happening. So later in the game when we had a corner kick Norman, as soon as he felt a pair of hands on his back, he fell forward and with his markers arms stretched out the referee had to give what looked like an obvious penalty. The player in question was Barry Slee a very good and well known footballer in the area. He shook his head at Norman in disbelief. (It was 'payback time' for Norman). Barry and every one else knew that it would take more than just one player to push Norman to the ground. He was strong. That's experience for you.


This memory also appears on my home page but as it still makes me smile I thought I'd include it here.

We got off to a poor start in the 1966/67 season and after we had just lost a game, it was suggested that we should start doing some mid week training. Someone else said
'and how will that help', and in a flash Frankie Gilmore replied 'because it'll make us play bad faster'. The whole dressing room just erupted. Absolutely priceless. I still laugh whenever I think of it.


The ‘Pops’ were playing a friendly match down at Doncaster, organised through the ex local miners now based down there, and it was a lovely summers day. After the match the team was in the showers and I was standing next to Norman Baird when my brother-in-law, Phil Cooper, came in and made his way through the players and started to shower next to Norman and me. We looked at Phil and then each other and we started to laugh. Phil then started to laugh and then said ‘
hey, I was sweating like a pig out there'.

Amidst the laughter Norman said ‘but you weren’t playing, you were just a spectator

Phil -Aye but it was still red hot out there

By this time the whole team was in fits of laughter. Even today when Phil and I are together we still laugh about it, in fact the whole family does.

I bumped into Norman a short while ago and this was also one memory he still finds priceless.

Now was that a friendly club or what?