Specs broke deal for a career playing football
Ken Jones shares his memories of Bradwell Youth Club, including his missed opportunity to play for Stoke City. He talks to Jenny Amphlett.
Retired teacher Ken Jones was talent spotted for Stoke City Football Club, until they realised he couldn't play without wearing his glasses.
The 80-year-old, from Trentham Court, Trentham, was playing for Bradwell Youth Club in a Sentinel Shield cup game at Stoke's old Victoria Ground when he was approached by a talent scout.
"I scored a goal at each end of the Victoria Ground in that match," he says.
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"I've been told the second goal was tremendous, although I don't remember it myself.
"Somebody from Stoke City approached me afterwards and asked if I had to wear my glasses.
"I did have to wear them so that was the end of it."
Ken, who taught humanities at Bradwell High School, was one of the founding members of Bradwell Youth Club during the late 1940s.
He recalls: "In around 1948 or 1969 we used to play football at The Meadows, towards Wolstanton. I would have been almost 16 years old at the time.
"It was a rough piece of land and we weren't very organised.
"One day a stranger was watching us play then approached me and asked if we would like to set up an organised football team.
"It was something we had always wanted to do, but we had never managed it."
The stranger turned out to be Mr Cockell, the new Methodist Youth Club leader.
"Very sensibly he only spoke to us about football and we were very interested.
"There was no youth club building at that time but they were going to build one opposite The Britannia."
In the meantime the new youth club recruits met at Bradwell Lodge, where they talked about football, played indoor games and planned the club's future.
Mr Cockell arranged for the boys to use the conservatory of a private house to change into their football kits.
He also helped them to construct goal posts from pieces of wood with a rope strung between.
The boys' 'new' football strip was a hand-me-down from a water polo team.
"The Stoke footballer Jock Kirton lived locally and some of us knocked on his door and asked him if he could get a football for us," says Ken. "Which he did."
Mr Cockell then arranged two matches against a Chesterton team.
The Bradwell boys acquitted themselves well and were soon winning matches.
In the meantime a methodist youth centre was built.
"It served as a youth club for three nights a week and was used as the church on Sundays," says Ken.
"We had regular evening meetings where we would play table tennis and snooker.
"There was various games but cards were not allowed. Being methodist, it was believed that could lead to gambling. I remember we thought that was a bit funny at the time."
Girls were later introduced to the youth club, and dancing lessons were offered.
Ken remained a member of the youth club until he joined the Army at the age of 20.
Youth club members would then write to him while he was based in Egypt.
Ken went on to become a youth club leader himself, and his father was also involved with Bradwell Youth Club.
Ken is a widower. He has two daughters, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Would you like to share your youth club memories?@ Write to Jenny Amphlett, including your full name, address and telephone number, at: Features Desk, The Sentinel, Forge Lane, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 5SS, or email firstname.lastname@example.org