Teachers and policemen

Cod Almighty | Article

by Neville Butt

9 April 2019

Cod Almighty readers have been identifying Town-playing teachers. Neville takes up the theme.

To the list of teachers who played for the Mariners, I can add Jack Swain, who played in the First Division days. He later qualified as a Football League referee. I did see him and Max Holmes play cricket for Grimsby and I was also lucky enough to watch Max in a benefit match at Blundell Park. Jack taught at Edward Street school as well as contrbuting each week to the Saturday Telegraph with the local soccer round-up.

Our school does require a janitor. Let me introduce a promising goalkeeper, Alex Bell, whose career at BP in the 1950s was cut short through injury after only eight matches. He returned to Scotland and eventually became a school janitor until he retired 30 years later.

Extending the theme, have we looked at the long arm of the law? We used to play friendly matches at Wintringham Grammar School on our Wednesday games aftenoon. At that time Grimsby Police had signed up numerous Town players to help them compete and do well in the National Trophy. Pre-war players that played against Wintringham included Vic Dodsworth (who moved to but never played for Man Utd), Arthur Bateman, Dave Clelland from Scunthorpe United and Wally Ponting. Two players - John Anderson and keeper Barney Bircham - were post-war members of the force.

Grimsby Town had an England schoolboy international Billy Watkins. I watched him play for the Reseves and he was a player with the skills of a Jimmy Fell. Watkins amazingly - astonishingly - never had a first team game with Town but played a couple of seasons in the North East in the fifties. He managed to notch a couple of goals against the Mariners in the old third division (North) with Gateshead and Hartlepool, and he even had a short spell with Middlesbrough. He then returned south to play 25 games for Mansfield Town. I think he may have returned to Grimsby and played for the Grimsby police but that does need clarification.

Uniting the themes of teachers and policemen is Reg Tomlinson, described as a school master when he deputised for the injured Pat Glover in 1937. He moved to Hampshire and became a police reserve during the war and a regular constable in peace time.

The Mariners academy

Teaching staff: Paul Agnew (PE), Alec Brader, Mike Brolly (Science), Joe Cooper, Rod Fletcher, Max Holmes, Harry Kitching, Jack Swain, Reg Tomlinson, Alan Woodward (Maths).

Janitor: Alex Bell.

The Grimsby Town constabulary

John Anderson, Arthur Bateman, Barney Bircham, Victor Dodsworth, Walter Ponting, Reg Tomlinson.

More Town teachers, policemen or other ex-players who have gone on to unusual careers? Let us know