Stalbridge Weston V Stourton Caundle Football Match
On a hot summer’s, in the mid1930s, a football match took place in field O.S 812, at Corner Farm, between teams from Stalbridge Weston and Stourton Caundle. Gordon Stickland, as a boy of around 6years old, was spectator at this match, along with his father Bill. It is difficult to imagine 84 years later, that enough young men were living in Stalbridge Weston to field a football team. My Uncle, Frank Palmer, was a member of the Stourton Caundle team and recorded his memories of the encounter in his memoirs. Unfortunately, he did not include the final score, or mention the revelry that must have taken place at the New Inn after the match.
“We played friendly matches against teams from other villages. The four uprights for the goalposts were cut from a local coppice, with two ash poles for the crossbars. If cattle had been grazing in the field, then cow pats had to be removed before the match could start.
Our village team became known locally by the name of the ‘League of Nations’. This came about after a spectator had made a witty reference to the rare occurrence when two members of the team were seen to be wearing a football kit of the same colour and design.
There was an intense rivalry between the various village teams and some of these so-called friendly matches could turn out to be anything but friendly. Both teams fought hard for no other reason than that the pride of winning for the villages they were representing.
Heated arguments would often occur whenever the ball went out of play, simply because there was nothing other than a piece of rag tied to a stick at each halfway mark and another placed at each corner of the pitch. As a result, every frantic wave of the handkerchief by the lineman would result in verbal abuse from the spectators, if they disagreed with his decision. It is little wonder that there used to be some who could not cope with the aggravation and after a parting shot would the then quit, leaving us without a linesman.
The venue for a match against Stalbridge Weston was the field on the right-hand side of the lane leading to the village. The New Inn was located just beyond this field and I am sure this had been taken into consideration by those who had hurriedly arranged this fixture, which took place on an extremely hot evening in midsummer, during a temporary lull in the seasonal task of hay making. The heat was stifling and members of both teams were soon to feel the effect of this on their breathing, movement and stamina. Our bodies were covered in sweat and every player had complained of feeling parched. One man present showed his appreciation by fetching a five gallon bucket of water from his nearby home, resulting in bizarre situation of players being allowed to walk off the pitch at will, to quench their thirst from the bucket. The referee did exactly the same, leaving the players to continue with the game during his absence”.
The attached photograph is of Stanley Haime, a member of the Stourton Caundle team for the match versus Stabridge Weston. Stanley lost his life in 1943, when he was a Japanese prisoner of war working at Hellfire Pass om the Burma Siam railway.
Phil Knott 2021