Lancaster nostalgia: The former Marine and sides who reigned supreme

editorial image
0
Have your say

Lancaster historian Terry Ainsworth takes a look at footballer Albert “Aber” Robinson – through the Caton years.

Albert Robinson was a hugely talented footballer who graced the North Lancs League and the North-West combination for many years. A great athlete who often competed at the Powderhall games in Edinburgh, he was a quick and tricky winger who was never intimidated by anyone on the field no matter how big and tough they were.

Caton United 1948-49 Back row from left: Dick Woolcock, George Wilson, Stanley Walker, Bill Dainty, George Robinson.  Middle row from left: Tom Eglin, Bill Hodgson, Jimmy Till, Jimmy Clarkson, Bert Cartmel, Albert Aber Robinson, Bowker, Ritson Stockdale and Sid Southward.  Front row from lef: Fred Robinson, Joe Easterby, Harry Jock Kerr, John Edward Ted Fairclough and Cyril Gardner. Sat on floor from left: Jimmy Mason and Frank Woodhouse.

Caton United 1948-49 Back row from left: Dick Woolcock, George Wilson, Stanley Walker, Bill Dainty, George Robinson. Middle row from left: Tom Eglin, Bill Hodgson, Jimmy Till, Jimmy Clarkson, Bert Cartmel, Albert Aber Robinson, Bowker, Ritson Stockdale and Sid Southward. Front row from lef: Fred Robinson, Joe Easterby, Harry Jock Kerr, John Edward Ted Fairclough and Cyril Gardner. Sat on floor from left: Jimmy Mason and Frank Woodhouse.

After all he had boxed for the Royal Marines and some of the stories told by his great friend Eric Acton simply reinforced his tough reputation. Having said that the young boys growing up in Caton never imagined what lay behind the kind, smiling exterior of the man they called “Aber”.

The stories related to me have been passed down through the generations by word of mouth and Aber’s exploits have passed into Caton folklore.

After Aber’s death, I visited his widow, Ann, in Galgate and she kindly gave me 21 postcards that had been sent to Albert when he was in the 26th Battalion of the Royal Marines just after WWII inviting him to play football for various clubs.

The list included Lancaster City, Crystal Palace, Poole Town, Morecambe, Bentham United and Caton United. The postcards were sent to various addresses all over the country depending on where Albert was at the time.

For example, the addresses on the postcards show that he lived at, 13 Langdale, Caton - Sydenham, London - Parkstone, Dorset - School Lane, Caton and Woodlands Hostel, Chorley.

The postcards covered a period of two years from 1946 to 1948 and show the diversity of the club and varying standards of football from the Third Division South with Crystal Palace to the North Lancashire League with his home club of Caton United.

My first memory of Aber was when I was about seven years of age, I would always watch Caton United play on Jowett’s Field, in Caton, just across the railway track down Station Lane, and in season 1948-49 they reigned supreme in local football by winning League Division I, the Senior Challenge Cup beating Milnthorpe Corinthians 3-1 and the Parkinson Cup overcoming GPO Telephones 2-0.

This marvellous achievement would be repeated in 1957-58 when Albert and his two friends, Ted Fairclough and Dougie Procter, returned home following an equally successful stint playing for Ingleboro.

The splendid shirts were blue and white quarters and Gladys Till, Jimmy’s wife, remembers making 25 sets of shirts and shorts to save the club money, how’s that for community spirit?

Gladys reached the grand age of 100 in July 2016 and is still sharp as a tack.

Caton United won the League Division I on goal average from Lower Holker by winning their final two games 11-1 and 6-0 and picked up the Senior Challenge Cup by beating Lancaster Moor Hospital 3-2 and the Senior Charity Cup by overwhelming Bentham Wanderers 7-1.