Saturday, 12 June 2021

Story of 19th century English footballer, Fred Spiksley, has EARLY DAYS OF a Celtic connection


Story of 19th century English footballer, Fred Spiksley, has EARLY DAYS OF a Celtic connection


Reproduced from the Celtic View 2017


THE 19th century saw the birth of association football, a sport that was often a chaotic mixture of professional and amateur organisation. Those who played the game in those early years were the pioneers of something that is now played and watched in all corners of the globe, providing unimaginable riches to those who play at the highest level.

Celtic, of course, were formed back in those early days, formed just over 130 years ago, on November 6, 1887, and in recent years, the Celtic Graves Society have sought to remember and properly honour the early Celts, from the Founding Fathers to those who first played for the team.

Indeed, their next event takes place at St Kentigern’s Cemetery, Lambhill, Glasgow, on Saturday, December 2 (12noon) to mark the final resting place of Alec Collins, one of those early Celts.

Earlier this year, the Graves Society travelled further afield, joining forces with supporters of Slavia Prague for a ceremony at the graveside of Johnny Madden in the Czech Republic capital.

Madden had played in Celtic’s first ever game – the 5-2 win over Rangers on May 28,1888 – while he was part of the first Celtic team to win the Scottish League (1893).

He later became known as ‘the father of Czech football’ following his years coaching with Slavia. And he appears in a new book which celebrates the colourful life of Fred Spiksley, a celebrated footballer in England during that time, though the story of his life is one which has long been forgotten until now.

 Flying Over An Olive Grove by Mark Metcalf and Clive & Ralph Nicholson (both relatives of Fred Spiksley), has brought Spiksley’s story to life.

An FA Cup winner with Sheffield Wednesday, he hit a hat-trick for England against Scotland, while he was also chased along the touchline by the future Queen of Britain, shared a stage with Charlie Chaplin and escaped from a German prison in 1914… and that’s just the information provided in the dust jacket!

Fred Spiksley crossed paths with Johnny Madden when they both played together for Gainsborough Trinity in 1887, prior to Madden joining the Celts.

Madden had already established himself as a player of note, playing and scoring for Dumbarton in their 1887 Scottish Cup final defeat to Hibernian, a result which helped precipitate Celtic’s formation.

The seeds of his future career as a coach were sown at Gainsborough, who had given him this title when they brought him to the club as a way of circumventing the rules governing the signing of professional players at the time. However, Madden took the role, and that of player, seriously, and Fred Spiksley and his team-mates were to benefit from that attitude and experience.

Spiksley later said of the early Celt: “There’s no doubt I owe a great debt to Madden as I was placed under his guiding influence, and he became my coach, mentor and friend.

 “On being introduced to senior football, there is no doubt that for their future success and welfare, young players greatly need the steadying influence of an experienced and talented player close at hand. His advice, if followed, will go a long way towards bringing out any ability that young players may possess.

” The story of Fred Spiksley is an entertaining and informative one for any football fan interested in the early years of the beautiful game, brought to the current generation of supporters with family pride by his ancestors.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Watchdog slammed over Covid: Unions say employers under-report deaths

 Big Issue North 31 May - 6 June 

Watchdog slammed over Covid

Unions say employers under-report deaths

The Health and Safety Executive has been accused by campaigners and unions of failing to protect workers during the pandemic.

Activists say the government body has allowed employers to under-report occupational exposure to the virus and failed to ensure personal protective equipment and ventilation standards have been rigorous enough.

Employers should report cases to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) if a worker has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence it was caused by occupational exposure.

In the 13 months to May 2021 there were 32,500 Covid-19 cases reported by employers and 388 deaths. These are small figures compared with the 4.4 million people nationally who have contracted Covid-19 and the 15,263 registered working-age deaths.

Sixty per cent of reports were in the health and social work sector, including hospitals, residential homes and day centres, with 7 per cent in education and 5 per cent in manufacturing.

Public inquiry

Janet Newsham, co-ordinator of the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, which advises workers on safety, said: “They are an underestimate of those who have contracted Covid and died as a result. If there is a public inquiry into the pandemic it should include looking to find the truth about workplace infections and deaths.”

 James Martin, a trade union tutor at Warrington and Vale College, said union reps have reported cases to him where workers have been told to wear a mask rather than a visor. This has led to people wearing glasses being unable to work safely due to them steaming up.

Martin has also heard of employers unwilling to conduct mandatory Covid-19 safety inspections.

 The Employment Act says employees have the right to leave work if they are facing serious or imminent danger.

Martin said the union Unite had backed staff who feared super-spreader events at employers, threatening industrial action, and this had resulted in improved safety measures.

 “But that is not an approach that can be taken by less well-organised workplaces,” he said. “The HSE should be helping such workers but it is an unreliable source of advice and support. It fails to inspect many workplaces and allows employers to self-regulate themselves.”

 HSE says it has undertaken investigations into 216 of the reported 388 deaths and made over 219,500 Covid[1]19 workplace spot checks, Watchdog slammed over Covid Unions say employers under-report deaths of which 92,000 were site visits. Daily workplace checks average over 2,000, up from 700 in November 2020.

Spot checks

HSE says spot checks have been targeted at industries where workers are most vulnerable to transmission risks and 90 per cent of employers checked either have the right precautions or will make changes without the need for enforcement notices.

But Newsham said: “Covid spot checks are mainly phone calls. The HSE got £14 million extra public funds but have not employed fully trained inspectors and have relied on untrained staff using body cameras on workplace visits.”

She added that inspectors have generally failed to contact union officials, who are “independent voices that are critical to ensuring employers carry out their safety responsibilities”.

She said: “Trade union[1]organised workplaces are safer. By taking our advice on the transmission risk, which early on we knew was mainly airborne, union reps have pushed employers into improving workplace ventilation.”

 Employers found guilty of breaking health and safety laws can be fined, jailed or lose the right to be a company director. HSE has not prosecuted any employers for breaking laws over Covid-19.

A HSE spokesperson claimed that the best use of its time is “through persuasion, advice and reprimand, not slower legal proceedings”.

The spokesperson added: “To meet the demand for PPE in healthcare, legal requirements have been temporarily eased, including conformity assessment procedures and CE/UKCA marking. To ensure these products are safe their supply must be agreed by HSE as the market surveillance authority for workplace PPE.”

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Disabled people organise to assert their rights


Disabled people and benefits, access to services, the Equality Act and hate crime are all examined by Tim McSharry of the Access Committee for Leeds, an unfunded long-standing disabled led volunteer organisation.

Standing up for equal rights podcast at Unite the Union


In 1971 and inspired by the 1970 Equal Pay Act, Allyson Daykin and her young workmates got organised at KP Foods and later won better terms and conditions. Victory initially though did not just mean challenging management practices!

In 1971, aware that the 1970 Equal Pay Act had been enacted after the 1968 successful Ford sewing machinists strike at Dagenham, Rotherham’s Allyson Daykin and her badly exploited, mainly female, juvenile workmates at KP Foods sought to improve their wages and conditions.

They quickly came up against resistance from the male dominated TGWU workplace branch and thus set out to organise themselves. In doing so Allyson was pushed forward and elected by her workmates to the role of shop steward, a position she fulfilled for 37 years.

This 10-minute interview starts with Allyson describing how her working-class upbringing stood her in good stead when she began work at 15.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Video coverage of We Remember March and Public Meeting with Gareth Pierce in Hackney in 1995

 Just gone online is coverage of the We Remember (those killed by the police) March and Public Talk (by Gareth Pierce. good speaker) from 1995 in Hackney.

Thursday, 29 April 2021




Stan Cullis is one of the football greats. As a boy he attended Cambridge Road Primary School, Ellesmere Port. The school is now set to honour him by erecting a plaque on the building and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is delighted to offer its support.

The date for the unveiling is 1.30pm on Thursday 17 June, the day before England face Scotland, a fixture that Stan Cullis played twice in.

The special guests for the day are Warrington born John Richards, a Wolverhampton Wanderers legend and England international and Stan Cullis’s son, the Reverend Andrew Cullis. Wolves director John Gough will also be present and as will Gordon Taylor of the PFA. The Mayoress of Ellesmere Port, Cllr Lisa Denson, will join proceedings.

Born 1916, Stan Cullis started his career playing at school level. He was twice a Football League runner-up with Wolves, where he also finished as FA Cup runners-up in 1938-39.  He represented at centre half his country on 12 occasions and captained the side in the last pre-war game. He also made 17 war time appearances.

As manager of Wolves between 1948 and 1964 he three times led the Black Country club to the Division One title and twice won the FA Cup. Cullis helped pioneer the move by English clubs into playing in Europe. A statue to Cullis stands outside Molineux. 

According to the PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor OBE.

“In order to inspire the next generation of male and female footballers and to encourage all pupils to do their best at sport the PFA is keen to take the stories of former pupils who became great football stars back into the schools they attended. 

“It will be the third time the PFA has unveiled plaques to footballing legends at the schools they attended. In 2018, Harry Gregg and Alex Williams performed the joint ceremony to Frank Swift and Jimmy Armfield at Revoe School, Blackpool. In 2019 Brian Kidd and John Aston junior did the honours for John Aston senior at Ravensbury Community School, Manchester. They were both great events in which pupils at the schools played major roles.”

John Richards, Wolverhampton Wanderers and England, League Cup winner 1974 and 1980, UEFA Cup runner-up 1972.

Stan Cullis created a Wolverhampton Wanderers team that was the most successful in the club’s history. Stan was idolised in Wolverhampton, and quite rightly so. Not only did Wolves win 3 League titles and 2 FA Cups, he also created a team which could compete at the highest level with the then European giants such as Honved, Moscow Dynamo and Real Madrid. 

His teams set the standard. Our seventies side, and every other since, is compared to and measured against the successes of the Stan Cullis era. He set a high bar which no other team or manager has come close to reaching. His accolade as Wolves greatest ever manager is richly deserved. “

Reverend Andrew Cullis, Stan Cullis’s son.

“I was delighted when I heard that Cambridge Road School in Ellesmere Port, where my dad was a pupil, was planning to put up a plaque in his memory.  Some years ago I saw the house where my dad lived, and it will be very special to visit the area again and see his old school – and enjoy such a wonderful occasion.”


Darryl Pickering, Cambridge Road Primary School Headteacher: 

“The school is delighted to play its small part in honouring one of its former pupils. We are working with the children, some of whom will assist with the unveiling, on a series of arts projects associated with Stan Cullis and these will be on display on the day and permanently thereafter.

“Thanks to some local sponsorship we are buying a football trophy and we intend organising a local annual Stan Cullis football tournament. 

“Stan Cullis was an outstanding professional and a credit to Cambridge Road Primary School and Ellesmere Port.”

The PFA will also be honouring this year, Bert Whalley, the former Stalybridge Celtic and Manchester United player and coach who lost his life at Munich, by unveiling a plaque to him at the home of Stalybridge Celtic at 6pm on 27 July and following which a special match involving Bert’s former clubs will be played. 

Later this year, a plaque to another Ellesmere Port hero, Joe Mercer, will be unveiled at Ellesmere Port Civic Hall. No date has yet been fixed.

For further details contact Mark Metcalf at or 07392 852561

The address for Cambridge Road Primary School is Cambridge Road, Ellesmere Port,
Cheshire CH65 4AQ