England star’s humble start with school second team
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A FORMER Barnard Castle resident enjoyed a trip down memory lane after reading the autobiography of one of his school mates and is hoping Mercury readers can help him “fill in the blanks”.
More than 50 years have passed since Alan Dawson attended Barnard Castle Secondary Modern School when he played centre back on the football team alongside Dave Thomas, who went on to represent England and now lives in Lartington. Mr Dawson was born at Bowes Moor Hotel, and moved to Barnard Castle with his family in 1955. After leaving school in 1967 he spent 13 “enjoyable” years in the Royal Navy. He left the service in 1980 and had several other jobs before finishing at Westland Helicopters.
Now retired and living in Somerset, Mr Dawson said: “I’ve just finished reading Dave’s autobiography and it was very good.”
The book, Guiding Me Home and Away, which was published last October, prompted him to dig out photographs from his childhood.
Among them was one of the school’s second XI football team in 1963/64 when the children were aged about 14.
The photo shows that the school’s PE teacher had decided not to pick Mr Thomas for the first team that year. Little would he have known that Mr Thomas would play for Burnley two years later and make his debut for his country against Czechoslovakia in a 3-0 win in 1974.
Mr Dawson said: “What I remember most was Dave was the only one who could cross the ball from one side to the other. He was also a team player and never talked down to you. He was also a very good at throwing the cricket ball and I am sure he held the record for the longest throw. I do remember that we won that year. I recognise all the faces but I am getting old and names avoid me. It would be nice to be able to fill in the blanks.” Mr Dawson, who is pictured on the far right in the back row, said can name some of the team including Mr Thomas, who is seated centre at the front.
Names known: Back row: unknown, unknown, Andrew Haggerty, Tommy Croom, David (surname unknown) and Alan Dawson. Front row, Michael Taylor, unknown, unknown, Dave Thomas, unknown, unknown and unknown. Call reporter Nicky Carter on 01833 637140 if you know the missing players.