Growing Up In The Bush – Part Two

Irish Jack made mention of Shepherd’s Bush Market as a failed record seller. I became a frequent Saturday morning visitor. It was home of the famous WG Stores who also provided records for QPR. I was a frequent visitor to the Store and to the stall in the Market which sold ex-juke box records. I also visited the stamp dealer who had a small table in the same area of the Market. I think I also purchased my first Mod shirt from a shop in the Market. Irish Jack would have been proud of me ! The trick of the Market was to time your visits to a certain area containing a stall demonstrating waffle irons, precisely as he finished the cooking procedure and was offering samples. This added to the sounds and smells which I can still remember after all these years.

As mentioned in the first part, football increasingly became part of our lives, both playing and watching. Kerrins will probably correct me but I think I first started following the R’s in about 1959. It was a real labour of love in those days and we had few expectations of success. I suppose we were true supporters of our team and we had not succumbed to the lure of more glamorous teams (Ray Wannell take note !) The Ground had changed little during the time my father had supported the R’s before me. The floodlights were a joy to behold. Looking like someone had searched the White City Estate for old car headlights. They struggled to illuminate even themselves but it all added to the ‘Old World’ charm of the place.

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My big treat for important games was to forsake my mates and to be ‘treated’ by my father to a seat in the old Ellerslie Road Stand. I say ‘treated’ as this was a dubious pleasure as it was of timber construction and roofed with corrugated metal. This would have been fine if it was not rusting away and footballs did not go above Stand height. Sods Law always intervened and balls frequently hit the roof above your head showering you with rust ! The Kelmscott gang and various others usually congregated in the same place. We moved at various times and I can recall that we even entered the scrimmage for the much prized elevated bit of the Loft End near the Main Stand. These were the days when Brian Bedford always seemed to get his head to corners and spectators needed danger money if rattles were being used.

We started to go to away matches as a group. This demanded absolute dedication to the cause as away wins were rare events. Undertaking away trips, mostly by train, was a risky business in the winter periods as communications were not as sophisticated as today. We relied on messages being given to train staff if a game was postponed and we arrived at several Grounds only to find that the match was off. I can recall one trip to, I think Swindon (Kerrins will correct me ?), in the depths of winter with snow and ice everywhere. Much to our amazement the game was played, under protest from the R’s and I understand that the pitch was so frozen they had to purchase trainers.

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I should also mention that it was during this period that a certain contributor to this Site who will remain nameless, (my lips are sealed Kerrinsoops), spent much of the train journey placed on the luggage rack and placed there by his so called friends. I think that on at least one occasion, someone entered our compartment with him still on the rack ! One momentous event in 1963 was the visit of Coventry City. We lost 6-3 and it was as if aliens had landed. Their appearance and style of play made us look like we had stalled in the 1930’s. The Sky Blue song was also prominent and it was to be a couple of Seasons before we dragged ourselves to their level. We were open mouthed at the performance which was a tribute to Jimmy Hill and his vision.

The rest is history.

Colin Woodley

(The image of the Gaumont in the Bush is used with permission from The team photo is from my own collection – Steve Russell)

13 thoughts on “Growing Up In The Bush – Part Two

  1. Great stuff again. Thanks for sharing your memories! I love all this nostalgia.

    Aside from your memories of being a Rs supporter, your depiction of Shepherds Bush Market brought back memories to me. Sounds and smells – well, they’re different nowadays – but so fascinating to me as a little girl all those years ago. So much so, that I won a prize at primary school for an essay about the market! lol

    Thanks again.

  2. Great piece Colin and photos.

    The Gaumont was the posh cinema and the Essoldo next door quaintly known to all as the Fleapit was far less reputable playing all sorts of lewd pictures like ’16’ that nowadays we watch on a Sunday afternoon.

    WG Stores and the little cubicles to listen to records.

    Why were those games so big, Northampton the year before the Cov’ game down the bush, the place was buzzing and it was the first time I ever saw the S A Rd Side of the ground full, we lost but I had a great time running up and down the earth bank storming the shores of Normandy, ‘This ones for you Fritz!!’.

    Oh what happy days.

  3. Memories….

    I was also at that Swindon Town game. The County Ground was frozen stiff, and under a thin layer of snow. To say it was treachorous underfoot was no understatement. Swindon came out in basket ball boots (Mike Summerbee, Ernie Hunt, John Trollope) – they had a good young side in those days – and Rangers played in studs. The result – a total massacre, 6-0 to Swindon if my memory serves me right. The game should never have ben played.


  4. It was 0-5. January 1963, the Big Freeze.

    We hadn’t played for 3 weeks, and didn’t play again for another 4 weeks. Killed us off that year, and for the next 2 years as a result.

  5. Colin. Wonderful article. All our Yesterdays revisited once again.

    Yes those 1950’s Floodlights! Not exactly high voltage were they? lol…still at least we had them which was more than could be said for Fulham FC in 1957.

    I will plead guilty to the luggage rack incident your honour but I was such a skinny sprog in those days I was the obvious candidate to be placed there!

    That 6-3 Coventry defeat in Nov 63 was a real eye opener as far as Div 3 Football was concerned. They were light years ahead of us! I was Shell Shocked after watching that…I think they were leading 6-1 at one stage..and there were massive ranks of Sky Blue Fans at the School end that day.I will draw a curtain across that Frosty Swindon Fiasco…yet another x certificate incident from the latter part of 1963.

    Thanks Colin for bringing it all back to life..Will there be more?

    Kind Regards

  6. Colin.

    I think 1960’s QPR memories will be clearer to you for the years 1966 to 1968!

    Lets Face it the performances were mostly so dire from 62/63 through to 64/65 that some of us are trying very hard to forget!! LOL.

    PS On the Subject of Coventry City we Both went to an AWAY fixture the season before I think 62/63…another horror story from that era ..a 4-1 thrashing…it could have been ten!..Stuart Leary with a consolation Goal

    Your schoolfriend from St Clement Danes Stuart?…the passionate Football Monthly magazine collector was with us…Massive hold up on the train going and we had to mess about and change at Rugby. Only just made Kick off in time. No time to eat!

    I also remember that friendly fellow schoolkid Coventry Fan next to me..he was sympathetic during the match and very interested to know all about Supporters of London Football teams…Where has that kind of world disappeared to??

    Anyway back to the Electric Shock treatment..I’m trying to forget that era! lol

  7. It re-opened as the Gaumont in July 1955. Later it became the Odeon. The Silver Cinema in the Uxbridge Road was opened about 1914 and closed by bomb damage in WW2

  8. Colin…hold on a momement while I put my Leslie Welsh hat on! lol

    That game away against Portsmouth in 61/62 lost 4-1(a better era for the R’s where we just missed out on promotion) stands out in the memory.

    Yes there was a Massive delay on the Train because of a Mudslide on the Track. The team were stuck on the train with us and I got a chance to talk to Ray Drinkwater captain for the day against his old Club…The Players and ourselves made it to the ground with 15 minutes to spare.The Kelmscott QPR Supporters line up that Saturday was Woodley Murrell Poole Lambert Smith(My Schoolfriend and son of an Ex 1940’s QPR player)

    Hopes were raised when Jim Towers equalised with a Trademark Fierce shot..but Ron Saunders ran riot and we ended up losing 4-1 to the eventual Champions.

    I think Stuart Leary’s debut was away at Brighton 2-2 in 62/63 one of our last decent away results that season before the “Big Freeze” and our slump down the league Table ugh!..this needs checking.

    Yep as I have said before…much childhood trauma and teenage angst in those days..especially so from 62/63 through to the end of 64/65.

  9. …yes and Alan Poole kept us calm and helped pass the time by giving us his Louie Armstrong impressions.

    It was a pity that the young QPR Defender “big Bill Williams”(6ft three guitar strumming giant as the pen pics in the progs always said) who was also on the train did not have his instrument with him…He could have played us all a tune.

    Heavens above imagine getting THAT close to a group of prof.Footballers on matchdays now!!

  10. Bernard….Talking of Bill Williams…I’ve been trying to find out which band he played in…any info mate ?

  11. Colin, sorry but I was sure I’d submitted a second comment to your fantastic piece..that’s the trouble with French Blue leapers these just can’t get the staff! What a really wonderful Part 2 for us all. That picture of the Gaumont brings a lump to my throat here in Cork…and…look at that lovely motorbike parked at an angle against the these sad times of little respect it would be nicked or set on fire. I bet there wasn’t even a chain around the wheel. I well remember the cinema next door, the Essoldo. I brought a Mod girl in there with me once and I’d better leave it at that..Bernard Lambert will laugh when I’ll just say that we sat at the very back of the cinema and I only saw 1/5th of the film. You have a admirably keen memory Mr. Woodley and we are all the happier for it. I’m completely fascinated by some of the posts talking about train journeys to grounds up in the north on cold winter Saturdays with nothing more than a box of sandwiches, a Bush (forgive the pun!) transistor radio and the Daily Express….sod them and their corporate boxes…AND to think that sometimes the team travelled on the same train ! Help, I wanna go BACK ! Well done, Colin. And Steve don’t take too long with Part 3.

  12. Jack…I remember that Essoldo cinema..quaint but cramped. Often known as the “Fleapit” which seemed a little unfair. The Commodore near Stamford Brook Tube Station..thats what you call an upmarket cinema.It is now an upmarket office block!

    Colin limited choices Hmmm Yes..should Southern Europe attack North Africa with only Five Armies?…or should we go fishing at Kingston or Weybridge. lol

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