A season in Skerton

Back Row L-R: Brian Wilson, Cyril Biddle, Colin Sanderson, Bill Lockley, Keith Bradshaw, Norman Booth, Eddie Mattinson, Bill Liver, Norman 'Muggy' Thornton (president and landlord of the Millstone Hotel).'Front Row L-R: Tommy Wilson, Alan Hoyle, Peter Horne, Les Davies, Brian Eddlestone, George Heald, Harold Bradshaw.'Sat on the floor L-R: Terry Austin, Ray Gates.
Back Row L-R: Brian Wilson, Cyril Biddle, Colin Sanderson, Bill Lockley, Keith Bradshaw, Norman Booth, Eddie Mattinson, Bill Liver, Norman 'Muggy' Thornton (president and landlord of the Millstone Hotel).'Front Row L-R: Tommy Wilson, Alan Hoyle, Peter Horne, Les Davies, Brian Eddlestone, George Heald, Harold Bradshaw.'Sat on the floor L-R: Terry Austin, Ray Gates.
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This week, local football hiostorian Terry Ainsworth takes a look back at the Skerton Athletic team of 1959-60.

When this photograph came into my possession I could identify only three people so I enlisted the help of Ken Lockley whose brother Bill Lockley was a member of the Skerton Athletic team.

Two days later and Bill had named them all which suggests that all of us described as old age pensioners have wonderful memories, we just can’t remember what happened yesterday.

In August 1959 Brian Eddlestone played in the final trial of Morecambe FC at Christie Park for the “Whites” along with Dickie Danson and “Scotty” Webb but didn’t succeed in deposing Ken Udall as goalkeeper so decided to play for Skerton Athletic instead.

Lancaster Amateurs resigned from the league but Downiefield (Overton) and the 5th Battalion Territorial Army were the newcomers to Division III.

Kirkby Lonsdale (Division 3) was the former Casterton Club and Moorside Casuals (Division 2) was the new name of the former Williamsons Cotton Mills and were scheduled to play their games on the Far Moor.

In Division II Moorside Casuals immediately withdrew from the league and were closely followed by Division III clubs Grange and Downiefield.

Skerton Athletic had been making slow but steady progress in the North Lancs League over a number of years and this season was to be a highlight. Although they lost their second game of the season on Ryelands Park to local rivals Bulk St Annes, 2-4, they would only lose one more league game all season and that would be another home game against Newton Rovers by 1-2.

As they won Division II by a single point it was only by looking back to their game in early February 1960 when they faced Bulk St Annes again and won an exciting close encounter 1-0 to realise how important that fixture was.

Maybe the game of the season though was played in January 1960 on Ryelands Park in a 3rd round replay of the Senior Challenge Cup against Division I side Cartmel.

Skerton had previously travelled to their Furness rivals and earned an impressive 2-2 draw but the replay saw them play a full part in a thrilling encounter that was in doubt right up to the final whistle.

Skerton deservedly led 3-2 at halftime but an own goal put Cartmel level early in the second half.

With only minutes remaining the scores were level at 4-4 when Taylor burst through and won the game by lobbing the ball over Brian Eddlestone’s head from an acute angle.

1959-60 Division II   P W D L F A Pts

Skerton Athletic 20 15 3 2 92 34 33

Bulk St Annes 20 16 0 4 80 37 32

Royal Albert Hospital 20 11 3 6 78 64 25

Newton Rovers 20 11 3 6 69 54 25

Lansil 20 9 4 7 80 60 22

Lindale Sports Club 20 8 5 7 69 66 21

Lancaster Lads Club Old Boys Reserves 20 8 2 10 50 61 18

Standfast Dyers & Printers 20 6 4 10 61 70 16

Trumacar 20 5 3 12 38 77 13

Heysham 20 4 3 13 47 87 11

Waring & Gillows 20 1 2 17 35 89 4

A wonderful story related to me by Ray Simpson involved the landlord of the Millstone and was as follows.

“In season 1956-57 Skerton Athletic met Standfast Dyers & Printers in the final of the Parkinson Collegian Cup on the Giant Axe and were favourites to lift the trophy so the landlord,

Norman “Muggy” Thornton, took some bottles of rum to fill the cup for the anticipated post-game celebrations.

In the event Standfast caused a huge upset and won 4-0 so “Muggy” took the unopened bottles of rum back to the safety of the cellar at the Millstone.”

This old Inn stood on the west side of Main Street, Skerton, near the corner with Aldren’s Lane.

Its name comes from the nearby Skerton Corn Mill which had stood there since the Middle Ages and was demolished in the 1950s.

First recorded in 1803 it was for many years associated with the Lune Fisheries and the landlord in the early 19th century was William Carter, succeeded in 1832 by Robert Wilkinson, whose well-trained dog “Jack” helped him harvest vast quantities of fish by driving them into the net.

Skerton Corn Mill was built in 1754 on the site of an earlier water-mill. The last time the mill worked was during the 1914-18 War.

Following that much of the machinery was removed and the building was finally demolished in 1956.