Millwey Rise win promotion and then England win the World Cup - it all happened in 1966
PUBLISHED: 14:59 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:59 24 June 2020
I came back to Dorset in the early Spring of 1965 after three years away. The agricultural machinery company I worked for in Dorset became South Western Farmers when it acquired East Devon Farmers and I was promoted to be their first machinery salesman in Devon.
We moved into Rakehill Cottage, which had a postal address of Wilmington, but was closer to Stockland Hill TV mast than the village.
We rented the cottage from Major Hatswell of Wylmington Hayes.
There was no electricity, but this was promised to arrive within 12 months.
Its saving grace was an Aga which provided warmth, hot water and our cooking facilities.
Illumination was by oil or tilley lamp, and the occasional candle when we ran out of paraffin.
Two massive benefits that came with my new position were; a telephone, the first we’d ever owned, but the icing on the cake was a brand-new Austin A40 Farina, a ‘company car’ that accompanied the job. I could now, at last, say goodbye to my1938, ailing, unreliable Austin Big Seven.
One of the first things I did on my return was to get in touch with Perce Downton at Millwey Rise football club and it wasn`t long before I was playing for ‘Rise’ once more.
It was a great feeling to be back, even if it meant playing on the much derided ‘slope.’
Millwey had won the Perry Street League Div Three Cup in the previous 1963-64 season and, in my first season back, 1964-65, history repeated itself when we won it for the second successive season, beating Broadwindsor 6-3 in what the first ever final played at Combe St Nicholas where Jack Venn presented us with the Cup. We also gained promotion to Div 2 as runners-up.
In 1965 when I began life as a machinery salesman in East Devon, I was accompanied by the Rt Hon James Coleridge (well that`s how he was always referred to), who was a farm feed salesman with the company we had acquired.
He was a real gentleman, an inveterate smoker and normally wore a long fawn duffle coat with his order book and leaflets stuffed in either pocket.
His job was to introduce me to the company’s existing farm customers (normally those who provided him with a cup of tea and in some cases lunch!) We seemed to spend a great deal of our time talking about local football.
He was then either chairman or president of Whitford FC, who had a great reputation for shipping lots of goals.
In fact, they were featured on Westward Television playing a team from up-country to decide who was England`s worst team!
I think that proved to be Whitford though someone may want to dispute that.
Unfortunately, James didn’t stay with the Company very long after the merger.
That season of 1965-66 proved to be an eventful year for myself, Millwey Rise FC and England’s football team.
I began to find my feet in my new role with the added promise of electricity on the horizon.
Millwey Rise began a successful campaign in Div 2 of the Perry Street League and England were playing in the finals of the World Cup. Although like most years it did not pass without its trials and tribulations.
Calling on farmers trying to prise money from their wallets sometimes proved quite challenging as I was soon to find out.
My very first visit to Mr Bill Carter, the founder of Ladram Bay Caravan Park, ended nearly before it began when he informed me in very basic language where I could put my machinery1
I made some suitable comments and retired gracefully, but determined I would call again.
With some trepidation I returned a few weeks later and he apologised for his previous outburst and to cut a long story short, I came away with a very substantial machinery order which was the first of many.
It certainly reinforced the old adage of: ‘Try, try and try again...’
On another farm I was plied with ‘scrumpy’ in an attempt to secure a better price on a plough.
I got the order, but was in no fit state to drive, so I pulled in off the road and spent three hours sleeping it off!
On another farm I congratulated the farmer`s wife on the imminent birth of her child.
Only to receive a look of total bewilderment – she wasn’t expecting – no, she was simply a rather large lady! I will write a story one day.
Millwey Rise FC began the 1965-66 season with a mix of youth and experience in the team.
Perce Downton, Tony Turner, Geoff Vickery and myself all played in Millwey’s inaugural season. Alfie Dowell and Ray Tiller arrived soon after.
The vital input of youth included Ian Galloway, Roger Hurrell, Andy Jackman, Monty Perry, Mike Albano and goalkeeper ‘Nobby’ Swain.
The first game of the season in September saw us beat visiting Netherbury 4-1 with two goals from Monty Perry and one each for Perce Downton and Cedric Slynn.
We then won 4-1 at Donyatt before a run of three away defeats at Misterton, Winsham, and, in the Devon Junior Cup, at Tipton St John.
October saw wins against Axminster, Axmouth and Upottery (the latter game would have important ramifications for the final game of the season.)
Wins throughout November kept Millwey on top of the table. Only one game was played in December and it was a similar case in January, a 10-2 success against Lyme Regis 10-2 on January 1.
February’s games were marred by a 5-0 defeat at Winsham, but March began with a 15-0 win against Shepton Beauchamp.
The final month of the season saw Rise facing five successive away games and, defeat in the first, allowed the ‘chasing pack’ to creep ever closer.
As the year progressed towards the World Cup Final at Wembley, I was getting a little more concerned as there was still no sign of electricity arriving at Rakehill.
I kept pressing Major Hatswell on the subject, but he always assured me he expected the work to start ‘any day soon’, but that didn’t alleviate my concern over the lack of an electricity supply.
The excitement was rising throughout the country with the approach of the World Cup finals.
There was a big revolt from the African - Asian group over apartheid and representation so the only team from this sphere that came to England for the final rounds was North Korea.
In total there were 16 teams competing for a place in the final.
Though at one point it seemed they wouldn’t have a trophy to play for after it was stolen from an exhibition. It was eventually found some months later by a dog called ‘Pickles’ who sniffed it out hidden under a bush in a London park.
Meanwhile, Millwey Rise won their next three April fixtures, beating Combe St Nicholas, Axminster and Chard Youth Club, which all meant a last day game between Rise and Upottery to deceide who finished top of Division Two.
Millwey needed one point to become champions, while Upottery needed a win to take the top honour.
In a hard fought, end-to-end, evening game, the result was settled, but not before Perce Downton, playing on the wing for Millwey, went off injured in the first half.
He returned, but while taking a corner made contact with the post to further aggravate the injury. However two goals from Ray Tiller and one each from Roger Hurrell and Ian Galloway, saw Rise to a 4-1 victory to clinch the Division Two title.
Poles to carry the electricity began to appear along the lane close to home.
There was now just under two weeks remaining before the World Cup final. With one week remaining the final pole was in place.
The electricians had already wired the house and we’d signed up to rent a black and white television set from ‘John James’ in Honiton High Street.
I don’t know whether Major Hatswell was interested in football, but I had instilled in him the importance of the occasion, (for me anyway).
Then, with three days to go we had our electricity!
This meant I watched Thursday’s third place play-off in which Portugal beat the Soviet Union 2-1 as well as England defeating Germany to win the World Cup final on that unforgettable Saturday in July.
So that was 1966. We had electric. I had laid the foundation of a successful, lifelong career in agricultural sales, England won the World Cup and Millwey Rise FC moved into the highest echelon of Perry Street League football.
I’d like to thank Perce Downton, a founder member of Millwey Rise FC, for his assistance with names and dates to reinforce my own recollections of these times.
● Dick Sturch can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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