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Pictured in the Grandstand at the Brewery Field Bridgend with his son in 1990

Frederick Thomas McMullin and Football

Frederick Thomas McMULLIN [356] enjoyed watching Rugby, in fact he usually went to watch Bridgend’s home matches so it was not surprising that he went to watch the Bridgend versus Cardiff  match three days after his 100th birthday. He was invited onto the pitch at the end of the game and presented with a signed ball. That match was won by Bridgend 28-9. The team could not repeat their sparkle when he watched them on his 102nd birthday this time the Western Mail’s headline  (Nov 22 1993) read “Centurian Tom looks better than his team” as Bridgend were only able to manage a score of  15-6 over Dunvant, however Frederick Thomas was given a standing ovation.

He had always enjoyed playing soccer in his young days in Wantage but on settling in South Wales, where he had been sent by his employer GWR in 1913, had  transferred his loyalty to the oval ball.

Playing Soccer in Wantage.

He told his grandson a little about his playing days in a series of chats in 1990/91.

He was on the committee of Wantage Town and Captain of Wantage Town 2nds. The curate C.E.FRY persuaded him to coach the Scout’s team. He played in any defensive role, the backs or goal but on one occasion he played front row. He had withdrawn from the usual game thinking he was to visit a girl in Kensington this visit was called off last minute so he found himself substituting for a forward  with the first team in Swindon. This game proved dramatic as he scored two goals before retiring with a hurt ankle. He said the match was reported in the Swindon Newspaper.(1910 or 1911). The home ground for the 2nds was in Challow (we think he meant East Challow) He would change at home and run ¾ mile to the ground. After match they had a bath in tin bath. They bought their own boots, he had Milton Tottenham Hotspurs which cost 3/6 a pair. Studs were put in to play on a wet pitch and taken out if it was dry.When they were playing away they changed in a pub and had tin bath to wash after. Once when he was captain they played at Cholsey where he had a brother in law in the signal box (George Perrett husband of Ellen Mary McMullin they had a son who was a railway inspector) In Cholsey they paid 6d for tea and had a whip round to give them a bit extra because it was such a good tea.

At one match he overheard the opposition saying they were going to cripple the right back (FTM), so when he went out on pitch he took out the first player that came near him. His father went on to him and scolded him for what he reckoned was dirty play. His brother William played for the opposing team. During another match a goal keeper took a punch at him, years later when visiting his daughter Harriet he discovered that one of her near neighbours was that goal keeper.

Occasionally they played at Reading after one match there the team were persuaded to buy Berkshire paper but when they got home they found the papers were a week old. But when Reading FC was going broke all the players in the league gave 1/- each to save them.

When delivering Mineral water with the horse and cart he once bet a gallon of beer (8d a gallon) that he could beat a group. He gathered a team with 3 players from Wantage Town and his brother who was boss of Wantage Stars and he played half back at a game at the Duke of Edinburgh Field Swindon.

They won the match watched by C.B. Fry* who offered them a gold 10/- for drinks all round but they had to refuse it as they had to get the waggonette back quickly or they would be in trouble. [* This may not have been the famous all round sportsman but is more likrly to be C.E.M. Fry who was the curate at Wantage. Revd, Fry gave him a reference in 1913 when he applied for work with GWR.] An old player who cycled to watch the match said it wouldn’t be long before you (FTM) would be a professional. When he joined railway the chief inspector told him he would have to hang up his boots, as a porter he worked either 6am to 6 pm or 2pm to 2am, and so did not have chance to play soccer again.

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