Burnham footballers

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES Feature: when Burnham-on-Sea had a soccer star and real footballers could do a slide tackle and not get sent off (and could have a cigarette at half-time and a pint or two after the match)

Back in the day with Spencer Dibble and Burnham FC

This article in the Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News was written in 2015

Dubbed as the Haircut 100 footballers of yesteryear the photos discovered by Highbridge Caravans of teams they sponsored back in the day has prompted the memory of one who remembers them well.

Spencer Dibble is still part of the sporting scene in the towns of Highbridge and Burnham as he is the president of Burnham FC. He’s a former player and a former first team manager and a former chairman of the club and continues as the club’s president.

He said: “I played for Highbridge Town for a couple of seasons, around 1967/8, having transferred from Burnham United, along with Charlie Gale and Steve McCleary. Other players I recall as playing for Highbridge Town at time, were, Wiffer Smith in goal, full back Jock Paul, the late Neil Barrett, Pat Hooper, Mike French, John Parsons and Tony Lovibond. We won the Weston and District Football League Hospital Cup, a very high profile cup competition, as it is to this day.”

It seems like old soldiers footballers don’t die they just slowly fade away as Spencer has for the last nine years served on this Leagues Management Committee as well as taking an active part in the destiny of Burnham Football Club.

He also played for a couple of other teams back in the day and recalls some high flying performances although he says he didn’t make the professional level. However he did know the future careers of some of his old team mates.

“Andy Neilson, John Spence and Steve Bear all went on to play in the Weston-super-Mare-Western League. Andy Neilson was a painter and decorator but is now retired, having had replacement hip surgery a few years ago.Jon Picton is a dry lining/tape and jointer and is self-employed while Andy Huddard is a building surveyor and Kev Crenol is a postman. Jason Tucker is a fibreglass laminator and is now a director at Off Site Solutions while John Spence-is a director of Highbridge Plastering. Steve Bear now works for Brakes Frozen at a depot near London and Rich Lawrence is a self-employed painter and decorator. Ryan McErlain-was a former postman, but is now a self-employed as a dry lining/tape and jointer and so is Nigel Hodge.”

His motto as a defender was ‘they shall not pass’ although this was in the Chopper Harris era when barging goal keepers was still permitted and new players were introduced to a match by being taken out with a slide tackle.

Mr Dibble said: “As far as the highlight of my football career goes. I have some great memories. But the one that really sticks out for me, was when I was playing for Street. We were top of the old Somerset Senior League (there was only one division back then) and we played against Frome Town of the Western League in the FA Cup, which we sadly lost, but a great experience non the less. Great atmosphere, big crowd and I was paid £4 expenses. A lot of money to me, as I was an apprenticed carpenter and joiner at the time, earning about £8 a week.

“I can’t remember all of the team that day, but those I do, were as follows: in goal was Micky Bawden (ex Bridgwater Town); full back John Randall (ex Bridgwater Town); Half backs Terry Wolf (ex Shepton Mallet Town); Chris Higginbottom(ex Glastonbury); forwards, Ginger Binding (ex Bridgwater Town), Bobby(shadow)Williams (ex Bristol City), Nicky Burke(ex Bristol City and Bridgwater Town), and Ray Stranger (a prolific goal scoring centre forward, who went on to play for Bridgwater Town).”

The photo that sparked the memories of footballers of yesteryear

He said that Nicky Burke, also played for Burnham United, but went to Bristol City as an apprentice while another ex Burnham United player who played at a much higher level, was Jamie Ward. He went onto to play for Bridgwater Town, then onto Yeovil Town.

The football legend said: “In fact Bristol Rovers wanted to sign him, but Yeovil wanted £4,000 and Rovers wanted him on trial. So the deal didn`t go through. Jamie also played for Taunton Town in his later years.”

Harry Mottram

Do you remember playing football back in the day when footballers had a cigarette at half time and drank Double Diamond in the pub after the match? Email your memories and photos to harryfmottram@gmail.com

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