For Junior football in Clifton you have to go back to 1962. The most famous player at the time was David Pleat who lived at the beginning of the estate at 10 Farnborough Road in the very first houses to be built on what was to become the largest housing estate in Europe. At the time he had an Amateur contract with Nottingham Forest.
Sporting activities outside of school were very limited. Children would play in the streets and local parks but local football under the age of 16 was not recognised.
The Notts FA Youth League only ran sides aged 16-18 years old however, the Notts Church League (not affiliated to the FA) did organise football for boys under the age of 16 years old.
Although Sunday football at the time was not permitted go to Whitegate School field at that time and after a Roast Beef Sunday lunch you would see the local kids going through the hole in the fence to play a 16 a side game, there was nothing else that mattered.
This was not just happening at one school field, it was happening all over the estate. There was a ball, 4 jumpers thrown down as goalposts and a game going on at every school field and park where there was grass, girls didn.t come into the reckoning.
In the 60’s Clifton had 25% of Nottingham’s School Population. Therefore lots of boys who wanted to play football.
Factor in the Seven Primary Schools supplying Fairham with 77 Players per Age group and with Fairham only available to offer 11 places for one team it meant 66 players were missing out on the football previously provided by the Primary School Teams.
Also factor in the Players who didn’t make the Primary Teams …the Late Developers! …everyone knows one!
It’s no wonder that Street Teams begat League Teams …resulting with 50% or maybe more of the Young Elizabethan League age related Divisions being taken up by Clifton based teams. The Competition was intense …Street Cred and Monday School bragging rights were at stake!
From these regional areas of Clifton teams began to form in what was the beginning of some very talented players.
Mr Ken Bowers who lived at 75 Wheatacre Road recognised this and decided to start a league for under 12 year olds which he called the Young Elizabethan League. He became the league Secretary, a league that is still flourishing today, 56 years later. Already by November at the Knockout Cup draw at the Locomotive Inn, Wilford Road he was looking for teams up to 15 years of age to register for the next season.
At the time there was just one football pitch on Swansdowne Drive, one half, partly now houses and the other half Nethergate school. It had a slope and the grass in a neglected condition. Anything went for playing kit, odd socks and shorts were the norm. Farnborough fields was out of bounds to junior football
Clifton All Whites and Thistledown Rovers had.nt been thought of yet. That was to be one year later.
The first season consisted of 2 leagues, one Clifton team in the Senior League and 5 out of the 8 teams in the Intermediate League from Clifton. The kids from the last years of Clifton Junior schools were desperate to play competitive football. Although for Under 12s some teams played 9 and 10 year olds if they were good enough.
Senior League teams (Under 14s) were
Clifton Athletic ‘A’, Long Eaton Utd Colts, Parkhead Utd, Carlton Albion, Basford Methodists, Carlton Valley Rovers, Hyson Green BC
Intermediate League (Under 12s)
Victoria Park, Clifton Athletic ‘B’, Hendon Rise Colts, Clifton Corinthians, Park Utd (Clifton), Pathfinders Imps, New Clifton Pradlac ‘A’, New Clifton Pradlac ‘B’
Clifton Athletic YC ‘A’ won the first Senior League and Cup. The players were a mixture of Youth Club and YMCA players Their manager and trainer being Bert Perkins of 16 Dellway and Ken Dudley respectively.
The team consisted of:- Malcolm Whitt, R Abdy, Walker, J Cummings, B French, Crofts, B Thornhill, M Terry, Harrison, J Davey, B Shaw, Woolley, P McCilroy
As for the Under 12s to prove that the start of football in the Estate was regionalised you only have to go to a game from November 3rd 1962
Clifton Athletic ‘B’ 5 Clifton Corinthians 4
Clifton Athletic ‘B’ team:- J Wilson,K Lee, A Perkins, Keith Jarvis, J Heathcote, G Briggs, David Adams, Geoff Smith, Keith Rose, Keith Elliott, Smith
Clifton Corinthians Tam :- Geoff Arnold, Inky Horton, Michael Hartshorn, Alan Wheatley, Tony Cuthbert, Pete Archer, Les Hardy, Houghton, Ivan Korol, Eddie Young, Steve Throstle
The Athletic team mainly from Dungannon Road and Milford school and the Corinthians from Tintagel Park and Whitegate School. Some great players.
From the Corinthians came Eddie Young and Tony Cuthbert, later to be stalwarts of the All Whites team. Add to this Ivan Korol of City & Sherwood days and Radcliffe Olympic and finally Steve Throstle to this day still ‘Mr Dunkirk FC’
As for the schools Preliminary Trials Laurie, Perkins (Brinkhill), Throstle (Glapton), Spencer, Gibbons (Greencroft), Holloway, Holder, Jukes, Flynn (Highbank), Swift, Freer McGregor, Anderson, Jackson (Milford)
Look at the School trials, more All Whites legends in Holloway, Holder Perkins and Flynn were in the making, for Clifton Park Avenue formed by Wilf Hunt, there was Pat Gibbons who once scored 9 goals in a game for Greencroft, tragically lost by an accident at the Gypsum at East Leake.
What did they all have in common, they played hard but fair and were brought up to be great clubmen something amiss in modern day football