Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A brief recall of the collapse of the Orgreave Miners' trial on 17 July 1985

33 years ago today the newspapers were packed with news that on the previous day (17 July 1985) the trial of the first 15 arrested at Orgreave on 18 June 1984 had collapsed. Defendants had been charged with riot and unlawful assembly and thus faced almost certain lengthy prison sentences. Sixteen long weeks the trial dragged on until it collapsed when it became clear the police’s oral and written evidence was unreliable. Each prosecution had been supported by two police officer’s making near-identical statements. The signature of one officer was analysed and found not to be his. Another admitted having had his statement dictated to him. 

All charges against pickets were subsequently dropped and South Yorkshire Police later paid out £425,000 compensation to 39 pickets in out of court settlements. Nevertheless, no police officers were disciplined for misconduct in what Michael Mansfield QC, who later represented three of those charged, said was the “biggest frame-up ever.” SYP later went on two doctor the statements of police officers present at Hillsborough in April 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed. 

Is it not time that this Government announced a public inquiry into events at Orgreave? 

Here is a great Martin Jenkinson photo of the celebrating miners'. 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Sunderland AfC was formed on 25 September 1880

To: Martin Bain,                                                     22 September 2017 
SAFC Chief Executive. 

From: Mark Metcalf
Football author and historian. 
Member of the Sports Journalists’ Association. 
07392 852561

Reference: What year was SAFC formed? 1880 or 1879? 

Dear Mr Bain,

I am writing to you in your position as Chief Executive of the football club that I have followed for half a century and who I have seen play in excess of 2000 times. 

I would like you to examine the evidence that I believe clearly shows that SAFC was formed on 25 September 1880. 

I write because I am interested in the history of the club and I am the author of four books on Sunderland, which are as follows:-

1. ’Whose the Greatest Centre Half the World has Seen: Charlie Hurley’ — an authorised biography. I believe this is the best selling book on a Sunderland player. 

2. ’Captain of the North’ - Stan Anderson.

3. ’Almost the Double - Sunderland in 1912/13’. This book was co-authored with Paul Days, the author of the Official Club history book that was released in 1999. 

4. ’Total Football; Sunderland 1935-37’. Which was co-authored with Paul Days.
You may be unaware but Paul was the author of The Official History of Sunderland AFC in 1999. Paul is, in my view, the man who knows by far the most about Sunderland AFC. 

Books 1 and 2 were sold in the club shop, with the club doing well from the sales.

In addition to the above I have established a reputation as a football historian, For example, four years ago I was able to confirm who scored the very first League goal on 8 September 1888. This attracted worldwide attention. 

For more on Kenny Davenport’s feat please see this article from the Daily Mail in 2013:-

I recently purchased a copy of Paul Days book FOUNDING FATHERS: THE MEN WHO MADE SUNDERLAND AFC VOLUME 1.

Of particular interest is the first part of the book and specifically the first two chapters titled 1879/80 - A False Start and 1880/81 Club Founding. I don’t know if you have read the book or the 2 chapters and so I have included them with this letter. 

I believe that these 2 chapters demonstrate that SAFC was formed in 1880, rather than October 1879. 

On page 14, Paul Days, having conducted an extensive search, concludes that no meeting of the Sunderland and District Teachers Association FC, the forerunners to SAFC, was held in October 1879. He states (p14) that regarding the meeting ‘the log book for Hendon Board school, where it might be expected to appear, fails to mention it’. The minutes for the group meeting of the Teachers Association on 15 March 1880 also makes, despite this being the first meeting since September 1879, no reference to football. Clearly if a football club had been formed there would be some mention of it. 

Paul then lists a series of regional Northumberland and Durham FA meetings in the first half of 1880 where there is no mention of a new club being formed in Sunderland and in local cup competitions during this same period no such team participated. As such there is nothing to demonstrate that the Teachers formed or ran a club in the 1879/80 season. 

On page 18 we get to crux of the matter with the Sunderland Daily Echo of Monday 27 September 1880 carrying the headline SUNDERLAND AND DISTRICT TEACHERS FOOTBALL CLUB and stating “The teachers of Sunderland and District have formed a football club and the office bearers are as follows………Vice Captain, Mr Allan…”

There then follows a report of the meeting that established the football club on Saturday 25 September 1880. 

The Sunderland Daily Echo reports on Monday 11 October 1880 that the newly formed club’s first practice match two days earlier saw the vice captain’s side beat the captain’s side 5-0.

On Saturday 16 October 1880 the Newcastle Daily Chronicle reported “a new club has been started at Sunderland, playing under the Association rules, the name being the Sunderland and District Teachers Association Football Club”. 

Over the next few weeks there are reports in the local newspapers of a second practice match before the new club plays its first Friendly match against Ferryhill on Saturday 13 November 1880 at the Blue House Field, Hendon. Paul’s book then goes on to show how years later the year 1879 become part of the folklore regarding the birth of SAFC.

I am writing to request that you read Paul Days work and state whether you agree with his conclusion that the club was formed in 1880. If you disagree then I would like to know why and whether you have any what concrete information to demonstrate that the club was formed in October 1879. 

I would be happy to meet with you and discuss this issue. I would ask Paul Days to attend any such meeting.  I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Metcalf - south stand season card holder along with my 9-year old son Charlie.

When Millwall fans presented £2,800 to the Bradley Lowery Foundation

Mary Gawthorpe plaque in Leeds

Go to:-

Mary Gawthorpe (1881 - 1973) 
Bramley, Leeds 

A Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque is mounted on the former home of Leeds-born suffragette and political activist Mary Gawthorpe (1881–1973). It was unveiled in April 2015 at 9 Warrels Mount, Bramley by Dr Jill Liddington, an eminent historian, writer and Royal Historical Society Fellow. 

Born in a back-to-back house in Woodhouse, Leeds, Mary, whose father, an alcoholic, was a leatherworker, started work as a teacher. Her growing passion for socialist politics and trade unionism — she was active in the National Federation of Teaching Assistants - led to her becoming in 1906 a full-time organiser for the Women’s Social and Political Union. (WSPU) Gawthorpe joined up with Sylvia Pankhurst and Alice Hawkins to form a WSPU presence in Leicester. She spoke at national events, including a Hyde Park rally in 1908 that attracted over 200,000 people. In 1909 she suffered serious internal injuries after being badly beaten for heckling Winston Churchill. 

Arrested several times for her political activism she was imprisoned in Holloway. Along with Dora Marsden, Gawthorpe was co-editor of the radical periodical The Freewoman: A Weekly Feminist Review, which discussed topics such as women's wage work, housework, motherhood, suffrage movement and literature. The periodical encouraged frank discussions on sexuality, morality and marriage, and urged tolerance for male homosexuality.

In 1916, Gawthorpe emigrated to New York City where she was active in the American suffrage movement and became an official of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. Her autobiography, Up Hill to Holloway was published in 1962, eleven years before she died.

Gawthorpe’s name and picture is one of 50 women’s suffrage supporters on the plinth of the Millicent Fawcett statue that was unveiled in Parliament Square, London in 2018.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Sheffield United, FA Cup winners 1899

Contact me if you'd like a copy of this print.

The end of the Victorian era was when Sheffield United, formed in 1889, enjoyed its most successful period with the Bramall Lane club winning the First Division title for the only time in 1897-98,  twice winning the FA Cup in 1899 and 1902 and also reaching the FA Cup final in 1901. Some great players appeared for the South Yorkshire side at the time including legendary ‘keeper Billy Foulke and half back and captain Ernest Needham, one of the all-time greats of English football and arguably the finest ever player to represent Sheffield United. 

Having become the first side from Yorkshire to capture the Division One championship in 1897-98, Sheffield United fans were desperate to see their side emulate the feat of local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, who in 1896 had won the FA Cup. 

Sheffield United beat Burnley 2-1 after a replay in round one of the 1898-99 FA Cup before also beating PNE 2-1 after a replay in round two. 9,000 travelling fans were then present to witness an 86th minute goal by Fred Priest that helped record a 1-0 victory at cup holders Nottingham Forest, who earlier in the match were prevented from taking the lead by a superb save by Foulke. 

Victory set up a semi final clash with Liverpool and this proved to be a titanic struggle. A 2-2 draw was followed by a 4-4 in a game played at Burnden Park, Bolton. With just six minutes of the game remaining, Liverpool led 4-2 but two quick goals by Priest saw the tie move to a third game. 

This was played at Fallowfield, Manchester and where the ground was inadequate for the numbers that attended. Following frequent crowd encroachments and with the light fading the match was abandoned at half time with Liverpool leading 1-0. 

The tie thus moved to the Baseball Ground, Derby where Liverpool tried to kick their opponents off the field before a single Priest goal two minutes from the end set up a first FA Cup final for Sheffield United. Their opponents were Derby County, the losing finalists the previous year, and the match was played at the Crystal Palace. 

A record crowd of 73,833 assembled to watch the action and at the interval it was Derby fans who were the happier as the Rams led 1-0 courtesy of a goal by John Boag. The second half was to prove a very different affair but only after Steve Bloomer missed two opportunities to extend Derby’s lead.

Then three quick goals between 60 and 69 minutes were netted by Sheffield United with Walter Bennett heading the first before Billy Beer put his side ahead on 65 minutes and then Jack Almond scored four minutes later. A demoralised Derby side rarely threatened to reduce the two goal arrears and with just a minute remaining Priest completed the scoring to make the final score Sheffield United 4 Derby County 1. 

The FA Cup had been won by Sheffield United for the first time in the club’s history by the following side: Foulke, Thickett, Boyle, Johnson, Morren, Needham, Bennett, Beer, Hedley, Almond, Priest 

Three seasons later, Sheffield United defeated Southampton 2-1 after a replay in the 1902 FA Cup final with goals from Billy Barnes and George Hedley. The winning side included six that had played in 1899 in Foulke, Thickett, Boyle, Johnson, Needham, Hedley and Priest.

The photo is as follows. Rear: Hedley, Beer, Thickett, Folk, Almond, Boyle

Front: Bennett, Johnson, Needham, Morren, Priest 

Sheffield Wednesday 5 Chesterfield 1, the first game at Hillsborough

Before the game, both sides had their photograph taken in the goalmouth at the Leppings Lane end of the ground by Jasper Redfern. The famous Sheffield optician also used this game as an experiment in recording moving image, using his stereoscopic camera, which took a series of photographs that then could be used to create short animations of the action. It was a technique that he had been experimenting with from around 1898 and his first trials at recording a football match took place a few months prior to Wednesday’s first match at Owlerton, when Redfern took his camera to the FA Cup final to record Sheffield United defeating Derby County 4-1. 
More than 12,000 people were in the ground, testament to the loyalty of the Wednesday fans. The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Alderman William Clegg, a Wednesday director, started the match at 3pm. 
The first goal at the new stadium was scored by the Chesterfield captain Herbert Munday. The experienced Fred Geary, a member of Everton’s title winning side in 1890–91, saw his shot come back off the post and Munday netted to the utter joy of hundreds of away fans. 
Less pleased were the home fans and some began questioning the Wednesday players’ desire. This scepticism, however, was unfounded as Fred Spiksley became the first Wednesday player to score at the new home when he ran past the Chesterfield defence and levelled. Ferrier put the home side ahead and in the second half two Spiksley crosses were knocked home by debutant Millar before Brash made it 5-1. 



Claims human rights violated in Colombia 
UK-owned mine is vital to local economy 
A major coal supplier to UK power stations has denied claims by Colombian indigenous leaders that its mining operations in the South American republic have violated human rights. 
Cerrejon, which is jointly owned by three London Stock Exchange-listed companies, Anglo American, BHP and Glencore, is a large coal mine in La Guajira in northern Colombia close to the Venezuelan border. 
At 270 square miles, Cerrejon is the biggest opencast mine in Colombia, which last year was the biggest supplier of coal to the UK, with imports exceeding 2.6 million tonnes. Cerrejon, much of which is still to be exploited, is vital to the economy of La Guajira, accounting for half of the region’s GDP and employing nearly 12,000 employees and contractors, with over 48,000 in its supply chain. 
Indigenous leaders recognise Cerrejon’s economic importance but also want to see major changes in how the company operates. They accuse the company of displacing residents and environmental damage. 
“Poor practices” 
Last month the charity War on Want organised a tour to Britain that gave two Colombian indigenous leaders an opportunity to meet politicians and pension fund managers, speak at public meetings and attend as shareholders the BHP annual general meeting. 
Angelica Ortiz from the Wayuu Women’s Force Movement said: “We sought to raise awareness of what is happening in my region because of poor mining practices that include forcibly displacing over many years around 35 local communities. Just five have been partially resettled. 
“Access to uncontaminated water is a problem and this is confirmed by the Colombian courts who have ordered, without success, the mine to reduce water and air pollution levels. We worry that with the company intending to extend its operations there will be further violations.” 
Ortiz quoted the case of Moises Daniel Guette, whose mother Luz Angela won a court case in 2015 against Cerrejon for its impact on her son’s health and alleges that the company has failed to reduce pollution levels. 
At the AGM in London, Ortiz asked BHP directors to compensate displaced communities, safeguard the cultural identities of local people, reduce contamination levels, guarantee the supply of safe drinking water and cease forced evictions. 
Ortiz was accompanied by Luisa Rodriguez from the human rights organisation the Centre for Popular Investigation and Education, which since 2001 has helped Cerrejon communities caught up in the armed struggle – lasting from 1964 until last year – between the government and Farc rebels. 
“Communities in Cerrejon suffer because companies trading on the London Stock Exchange won’t tackle ongoing poor practices when digging up the coal that produces electricity used in Britain. We have asked people on our visit for help in stopping these practices,” said Rodriguez. 
Rodriguez reported how the concerns of Colombian activists are mirrored by communities living in Barra Longa, a small Brazilian town left devastated by the 2015 Mariana mine waste spill. Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, it killed 20 people when the Fundao tailings dam burst, unleashing millions of tonnes of toxic mud that has left hundreds of miles of land needing to be decontaminated. The dam is owned by Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and Brazilian mining giant Vale. 
“Last resort” 
Representatives of people affected by the spillage also attended the BHP AGM thanks to War on Want, whose spokesperson Seb Munoz said: “We assist communities to speak for themselves about how unhappy they are because of the mining operations involving BHP in Brazil and Colombia. The company should tackle the problems these communities have identified and which now have legal backing because of a series of court rulings. 
“We facilitated meetings with MPs to alert them to ongoing problems. In the meeting with the local authority pension fund we asked those who have invested in companies that operate Cerrejon to consider whether such a policy is ethical.” 
In response to a series of Big Issue North questions, the owners of Cerrejon said: “We refute the allegation that Cerrejon has systematically violated human rights. In 2007, a third party review
by NGOs and a group of independent academics found no instances of human rights violations and all the recommendations they made that we could undertake were carried out. 

“Mining is critical to La Guajira. It needs to continue and, of the water used there only 7 per cent is high quality and that is used by employees and their families. Cerrejon is open to rigorous and autonomous measurements of air and water quality. Cerrejon does not promote the eviction of community members. Evictions are a last resort and are undertaken according to Colombian
law and international standards.” 

What is fascism?


Under fascism all forms of democracy including autonomous workers organisations are annihilated.

A state control system is then created at preventing fascism ever being overthrown. Individual identity is crushed insofar as the individual simply exists to serve the interests of the state. 

Fascism began as a movement at the start of the twentieth century in response to rapid social upheaval, the slaughter of millions in World War One and the 1917 Russian revolution. 

Fascism glorifies the nation and/or race as transcending all other loyalties. Myths of national or racial rebirth are emphasised following periods of decline or destruction. Fascism thus aims to destroy ‘outside’ or ‘alien’ forces that threaten the nation and/or race.

Fascism thus generally promotes racial and male supremacy doctrines and ethnic persecution and it also has a history of genocide and imperialist expansion.

As fascism seeks to gain power its political approach is twofold. It is populist, seeking to activate the 'whole people' against perceived enemies, such as Jewish people, or oppressors. It is also elitist, whereby ‘the peoples will’ is embodied in a select group, or more generally in one supreme leader and from whom authority proceeds downward. As such fascism is not only about superiority between races but within races. 

Fascism is hostile to socialism, liberalism and conservatism, whilst adopting concepts from all three. 

Fascism rejects class struggle and workers internationalism on the grounds that they threaten national or racial unity. Fascism does though frequently exploit genuine grievances against capitalists and landowners by developing radical sounding conspiracy theories and ethnic scapegoating. 

Although fascism may use Parliamentary methods to try and gain power it rejects political pluralism and representative government. Fascism can clash with conservatives, who are attached to tradition based institutions, and yet fascism generally romanticises the past in order to promote or provide inspiration for national rebirth.

Fascism’s relationship with established elites can be complex. In general, fascism defends and promotes capitalism but it can also seek to exploit differences within the ruling class as it seeks to subsume capitalism under the umbrella of the nation state. Cooperation, competition and interaction between fascism and other right wing groups has produced hybrid movements and regimes. 

Examples of fascist regimes from the past are Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini. Both men destroyed the trade union movement as they moved to take complete control of society. In Britain Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, the National Front, British National Party and English Defence League have sought to develop support for fascism.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Football documentary on birth of football and Fred Spiksley to go ahead

Funds now raised for the football documentary on Fred Spiksley and the birth of football.

Dame Sheila McKechnie, Falkirk

Dame Sheila McKechnie, Falkirk 

Taken from the Unite Rebel Road series.

A bronze bust memorial of trade unionist Sheila McKechnie, a former director of the homeless charity Shelter and the Consumers' Association, was unveiled in Falkirk town centre park in August 2005,  18 months after she died in January 2004, aged 55. 

Falkik born McKechnie attended Edinburgh University. In 1972 she became Assistant General Secretary of the Wallpaper Workers’ Union. Two years later she became a tutor with the Workers’ Educational Association. In 1976 she joined the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (which through subsequent mergers is now part of UNITE) as National Health and Safety Officer. She turned health and safety issues from minor concerns into major issues.

In 1985 she moved as Director to Shelter where she turned the organisation once again into a potent force tackling homelessness and its many causes. In doing so she changed many government policies for the better. 

In 1995 Sheila McKechnie joined the Consumers' Association where she again successfully mounted campaigns, this time on mortgage mis-selling and car prices. She also tackled standards in the food industry such that it led to the setting up of the Food Standards Agency in 2000.

She described herself during this time as a "fully paid-up member of the awkward squad" but others remember her as one of the best campaigners of her generation, someone who never tired of fighting injustice and for equality. Awarded an OBE in 1995, she was created a Dame in 2001 for her work on behalf of consumers.

Following her death, partner Alan Grant helped to establish the Sheila McKechnie Foundation and commissioned London sculptress Susanna Robinson to produce the bust, which was unveiled in Dollar Park, close to the Cenotaph on Camelon Road, Falkirk in August 2005. 

Provost Jim Johnston, who was among the invited guests at the unveiling, said: "Dame Sheila was an inspiration to us all and a true people's champion.

"The bust is a very fitting tribute to a marvellous lady and it sits well in the perfect surroundings of Dollar Park. We hope people will find this quiet spot the ideal place to reflect on Dame Sheila's life.”

Many thanks to the Unite national health and safety officer Bud Hudspith for the photograph and information that appears here.