How Things Have Changed
Few people are more familiar with OLLBC and its role in the community over the years than Eileen. These are some of Eileen’s impressions – the good and the not so good…
We moved to Whitefield Avenue in February 1968, it was very different than today!
There were not all the houses and flats there are now. At the top of the hill there was a children’s play area with swings etc. There were no more houses after No. 55 – it was open ground. They have since put in more houses. That’s when they took away the playground!
On the corners of Wontford Road there was all blackberries and other shrubs, until they built two houses each side. Just up Wontford on the left the little bungalow there now was the Rent Office. Down in Old Lodge Lane the New Valley School was then the Wattenden School. Where the new houses are before the school was all one building called Winton House, an old people’s home. Opposite we had a newsagent, car showroom, post office and hardware shop, grocery shop, car accessories and repairs, then a greengrocer! So we had all we needed.
The weather in the 70’s was more the four seasons with plenty of deep snow that lasted for weeks. People didn’t have central heating or wall insulation or double glazing so you would see very long icicles hanging from the gutters for weeks on end. The bus would not be running so you all walked to the Brighton Road.
Also in those days very few people had cars or telephones, so you wrote letters and when you needed to phone someone you went to a public telephone.
There were no wheelie bins. You left your dustbin in your back garden and the binmen came down your steps and round into garden to get it. Also the coalman delivered the coal round to a shed in the garden. I can’t see them doing that now, health and safety would go bananas!
Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church was very alive we had a great Youth Club which kept the children out of mischief and off the street. It was very popular with plenty going on. Unfortunately later on a new pastor came and thought it would be better to have a Bible Class instead, so the children lost their sanctuary. Very sad!! As there was nothing near for them to use up their energy and learn how to live as part of a community, they got up to mischief.
The estate was kept so well. We had a great caretaker with a lovely dog, then we had flower beds round all the green areas around the flats, aways beautifully kept.
In I think the 70’s they built Kempfield House next to the church for children in care or with problems. Once again there was nothing in the area for them, so another failure for the area with lots of problems caused in the locality.
Sadly things changed when they turned the old people’s home Winton House into a place for problem families. After a while they realised it wasn’t working so they pulled it down and built the houses opposite the shops. By then the shops had nearly all gone, so as a community nothing really changed for the better sadly.
Then it all changed. After Pastor Nick and family arrived things took off – we now have a community church again, with lots going on. The Thursday Tea has been a great success, bringing all nationalities and religions and ages together. It has brought the community back to life, thanks to Nick and his family and all the others that have joined in to make this possible. Keep up the good work!
Memories of the Endeavourers Boys Club, OLLBC’s first youth football team, by Tom, their exciting No. 2 shirt. (Except we couldn’t really afford proper shirts with numbers on the back)
It must have been about 1964. I had just left high-flying Kenley FC, where I struggled to get in the first team, and joined Endeavourers Boys Club, a newish team run by Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church who played in lower reaches of the Croydon Youth League.
To be honest we weren’t that good. We narrowly lost our first Surrey Cup match 18-0 at home and everyone agreed we had been lucky to get nil. We soon settled into a season-long battle against relegation.
But what we lacked in footballing prowess, we more than made up for in team spirit. I’ve never enjoyed playing for a team more, despite our dismal record. More than half a century later I still fondly remember the antics of Mick Doran, a deadly finisher in the style of Jimmy Greaves – when he got the chance, which wasn’t often; John “Cheese” Cheesman, a cultured and clever inside forward whose dad was a deacon at Old Lodge Lane; Derek Arniell, our dear old lean and lanky centre forward and a natural no. 9 (did Del have a brother Roger? Maybe someone can tell); and of course John “The Cat” Reynolds, our grinning goalie with the flaming ginger hair, one of the cheeriest and funniest guys you could hope to meet.
At this distance in time, what I remember most is the camaraderie, the fun, the being part of a merry band who played for sheer enjoyment and a love of the game. It certainly isn’t the results, the triumphs or the silverware won (none).
Except for one game. It was almost the end of the season and we were away to Addiscombe. Endeavourers were next to bottom, Addiscombe were next to top with games in hand and a good chance of winning the league. Roy Mumford, their star centre forward, was a regular for Surrey and tipped for an England Youth place. They were a hard bunch, and had beaten us 6-1 in our first meeting at Higher Drive Rec.
Conditions were grim – showers, squalls and a pitch like a pudding – but that suited us fine. Against the run of play we somehow took an early lead but Addiscome soon replied and by half time they led 3-1. So far, so predictable.
The second half was bonkers. Brilliant sunshine one minute, the next a howling gale. About five minutes in we surprised ourselves and scored again from a breakaway to make it 3-2. Addiscombe stepped on the gas and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored again. Instead it was us. I can’t remember who put it in or how, but it didn’t really matter. 3-3. Against the top team. And away from home. I don’t know who was more stunned, them or us.
Addiscombe were having none of it. For the last 20 minutes there were 21 players in our penalty area as they launched a non-stop all-out bombardment. Shots ricocheted round our goal. Goalie John played the game of his life with a string of impossible saves. Bodies were thrown regardless. Yours truly cleared three shots off the line. In one bizarre incident the ball spun fiercely goalbound out of a melee, only to get stuck fast in the porridge right on the line.
Incredibly, we held out. The world of Croydon District Saturday Youth League Division V was rocked to its foundations. No-hopers Endeavourers in title race upset shock. Crazy name, crazy team.
I wonder where they are now, the Mickeys, Cheeses, Dels, Johns and those whose names and faces have slipped from my aging memory? I wonder if they remember those early days as fondly as I do (or indeed more accurately). I hope so.