A True Local Football Legend

ANDY DIBBLE'S GLOVES and ELVIS COSTELLO'S GLASSES reminisce about their childhood

[Recycled from Bizz no.78 of December 2005]

A lot has been said over the years about local legends... and football is no exception. And let’s face it; Pools have a few, but not always for the right reasons. But there is one guy who deserves legend status, and I am pretty sure he hasn’t been honoured in the past. And a good number of 30- and 40- something blokes around Hartlepool should be, and are, embarrassed about it. 

So let's put that straight now. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give the you the legend that is: SAMMY ROBERTSON 

So... who has heard of Sammy then? I would hazard a guess that a good number of Poolies have. Some will have forgotten. Me, and my good mate Elvis Costello's Glasses, got talking about Sammy, and we reminisced about those days.

ADG: What do you remember about Sammy then, mate?

ECG: Everything. How can anyone forget those days.

ADG: I can remember getting up on a Saturday morning, putting my Leeds strip on, and walking down to Fens School field for 9:30am with a few mates, climbing over the fence, then waiting for Sammy to turn up.

ECG: I remember that, those terrible Leeds "Admiral" things with the epaulettes ...awful.

ADG: I looked a right tart.

ECG: You still do mate.

ADG: Cheers.

ECG: Nobody had Pools strips back then, though I had the blue Bukta one from about 1976. And how many had that awful yellow Mag strip?

ADG: Do you know what? I still to this day don’t know much about Sammy, or how this started. Do you?

ECG: Yeh, Sammy Robertson was one of the Town's best amateur footballers when that was something worth shouting about. Went to try his luck as a pro at Chesterfield and came back to Hartlepool in the 50's. Lived in Claymore Road in between The Manor and The Fens. He was some relation of me Dad's... I reckon he was my grandmother's cousin, as she was a Robertson as well.

ADG: So how do you reckon it started then? I have this idea that we used to go to the field for a kickabout and then the big kids would take over the game. Then Frankie must have told his uncle Sammy, who thought he would come and watch.

"always looked after the young 'uns, making sure if there was a corner, free kick, penner etc. that a little 'un or one of the not-so-hot players took it."
ECG: That’s about it, I think.

ADG: So he must have just said he will pick the teams then.

ECG: Yes, Sammy took over then. Sammy would pick two evenly-matched sides with a mixture of nippers, decent players, crap players... Sammy, in grey tracksuit top, old 50's style shorts and white plimsolls, like Brian Glover in "Kes", would referee. Always fair, always played by the right rules, and always looked after the young 'uns, making sure if there was a corner, free kick, penner etc. that a little 'un or one of the not-so-hot players took it.

ADG: When did it start though? I remember going from about the age of 9, 1974-ish. Actually it was probably earlier than that.

ECG: I reckon it started in 1972. I can deffo remember going there in 1973 when Sunderland won the FA Cup.

ADG: It always seemed like it was 20 a side as well. And we would be waiting around looking for Sammy to arrive. I remember him running along Catcote Road being followed by half of the kids who would play. Oh, and cheering when he got there.

ECG: Sammy would jog round to Fens School Field, with kids "Pied Piper" like, joining the back of the jogging line all the way up Torquay Avenue and along Catcote Road.

ADG: There were some good players as well. Not that I can remember many of the names. I suppose you can with your photographic memory.

ECG: Well you know me... Paul Frankland (Sammy's nephew and still a Poolie!), Me, Our Kid (who was known to Sammy as "Charlie George" due to his long hair, flair on the ball and strange Derby County away kit!), Sully (a great lad and always in goal), Hoggy (Geoff... lived on Owton Manor Lane and best childhood mate), Mick Ritchie (STILL cutting it as a FINE player in the over 40's league), loads of Fens/Manor School lads... the Priest twins (Darren and Russ), Cliffy Lodge, Trevor Lowe, a lad called Loynes who was deaf, "Cogser", who had a big "Billy Bouffant" blond hairstyle, Nicky Delafield, a kid called Hogan who was always getting sent off by Sammy, some kid called Measor, who was obviously basing his career on Martin Gorry.

ADG: Cheeky get. I never once had one of those curly perms. I remember some of those names, but there were more than them. The best laugh was in the rain and snow in winter. We used to go home covered head to toe in mud. And the scores...

ECG: Some of the games had to be seen to be believed. Scores of 22-21 were commonplace. In the winter months, it looked like 30 aliens playing in chocolate blancmange as the sea of mud was scraped from Adidas Beckenbauer Super boots. The contrived "Next Goal The Winner" finishes ...the goal celebrations (15-man pile-up).

ADG: Aye ...but no one failed to turn up the following week though did they? And then it was home, quick bath, Footy Focus, round mate’s house, then the Number Six to the ramp. Up to the chippy on top of the ramp. Then off to Pools, and in the ground for 2 o’clock.

ADG: And do you know what? I can’t remember when Sammy's ended. I seem to remember going till about 1977, but that was it.

ECG: Nah, it went on for a couple of years after that. 1980-ish.

ADG: Sammy must have been gutted when we all just stopped going, after all he had done I reckon we must have just outgrown it. Especially your stomach eh?

ECG: That's rich coming from you, Homer.

ADG: Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... right. Thanks mate.

So that was it. How Sammy Robertson started the football careers of 40 or so promising young footballers. Well, OK then. There wasn't much talent there. But there was an awful lot of fun. And it was all down to one man. Never did any other parent join in. It was all the work of Sammy Robertson.

Can you imagine an adult giving up his time to do that now. He is one true footballing legend. Sammy Robertson ...we salute you. 

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