Geoff Harrington

1932 Memories from Geoff Harrington

The school was for boys and girls up until 1932, and then the girls had to go to the school in Great Charles Street and the boys over 11 years remained here. I was 10 years old at the time so I had to remain at Ogley Hay Junior School where I had spent all my school years up until then. I must say I enjoyed every day that I attended. Sport has always been and still is the best thing in my life.

The 12 months I had at Ogley Hay School before I came to the Central school, I helped our team win the cup for the junior schools in all the district which was held one day every year on Cannock Chase football ground. The teams (schools) which competed were: Chase Terrace, Chasetown, Burntwood, Ogley Hay, Central, Watling Street, Pelsall and Rushall., so you can see it was a great day out (if you won) it was still a great days enjoyment if you didn't. Just to hear all the kids shouting your name.

I then moved to Central school in September 1936, The teachers I can remember were Mr Wright (headmaster), Mr Marklew, Mr Seedhouse, Mr Stockley, Mr Hazard, Mr Beatty (metal work), Mr Jenkins (woodwork) and Mr Statham. The one think I can remember is we had one or two hours a week for sport.

I myself was never brilliant at school but I was always in the top half in the exams. Don’t forget in these days the teacher was ‘always’ the boss, you did was you were told. I was good enough to be asked to referee the all England Amateur Snooker final along with a lady for Newcastle on Tyne, at Bradford in 1987. I was asked to referee all the top snooker players of the time in charity snooker exhibitions, thats how I came to know them all: Sullivan, White, Hendry Parrot, Steve Davis and lots of others. Had some great nights out with them and got paid, sorry to say though I had to finish because my wife Nancy had developed vascular dementia, sadly she passed away in 2006. They do say behind every good sportsman there is a good woman. For years I did very little, and then I started in door bowling at the Activity Centre which I still enjoy at the age of 93. So you can see our old headmaster’s words had come true, so from 4 years old to 93 years isn't bad. Just as a matter of interest when I won ‘Ponderhall’ in 1951 I beat the world record that had stood for 140 years.

Years ago all the firemen did other jobs and if there was a fire they rang the Central school bell (Activity Centre) until the bell was put up on the Park View centre in 1911.

The Central school has turned out some good footballers: Dicky Dorset, Albert Nutty Newman, amongst others.

As you can see I have enclosed my leaving report, I have always been proud of it. You will note Mr Wright had put “this lad will do well in sport” little did he know how good.

BROWNHILLS CENTRAL SCHOOL—School leaving report

“Geoffrey Harrington has attended the above school since September 1933. During the past year he has been in class 3A, the top class in the school His work throughout has been marked by keenness, intelligence and steady progress, particularly so in English, Mathematics and Woodwork. He has played a proficient part in school sports and games. His attendance, punctuality and conduct have been excellent. I can strongly recommend him as a likeable lad, deserves getting on and as one who will do his best to give satisfaction to an employer”. Signed H Wright (Head Master)

Some of my achievements: My first race age 4 year, 1925 ran and helped my school win the cup a few times. The first time I ran in the school sports, on the Hussey football ground (which stood opposite the Hussey Arms) I won the 80 yards flat, 80 yards hurdle, long jump, high jump and was in the winning relay team. Than day I won 5 prizes and the Victor Ludorum Cup.

I left school age 14 years and went to work in Birmingham. Did no more running or football until I was posted to a camp in Bengal (India) where I played for the station team and we were lucky enough to win the General Cup which was a football competition open to all S.E.A.C. by this time the Japan War had finished.

Came home in 1947 should have gone for a trial with Blackpool but thought I would be better off sticking with running. 1951 ran in Ponderall Sprint for the time, won my heat, this race was the Blue Riband of the professional running open to anyone in the world. Ran for two scotch men who funded all the money.

First year I came 3rd for them but in January 1951 I won, winning for them on today's money values about £250,000. Not bad for a miners son. After I finished running I went back to my old sport of snooker, did all my exams on becoming a snooker and billiards referee and passed.