Tribute to Ron Gifford and the triumphant Skerton Old Boys

“Pride of Lancaster” remembering Ron Gifford who passed away recently, by Terry Ainsworth.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 12:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 1:25 pm
Presentation night at Skerton School by Lancashire Football Association representative and Councillor Price to captain, Brian Walker, and team L-R: - Ron Gifford, Mr Weaver (headmaster), Keith Walling, Jackie Prickett, Ronnie Moore, Brian Walker, Brian Rogerson, Councillor Price, Stan Askew, FA Representative, Alan Hoyle, Dougie Cohen, Mr Charlie Emmott, David Rucastle, Ronnie Pye.

Ron Gifford was goalkeeper for Skerton Old Boys under 18s team and played in a historic match in 1953 when the team won the LFA Youth Cup, said to be a trophy cup more handsome than the FA cup itself.

Although Ron was a goalkeeper, he scored nine goals during the season 1953-54, which, according to Terry Ainsworth, would have been penalties taken by Ron.

Here Terry takes a look at historical matches played by Skerton Old Boys.

Skerton Old Boys 1953-54. Back Row L-R: - Norman Wilson, Mr Charlie Emmott, Keith Walling, Ron Gifford, Ronnie Moore, Stan Askew Middle Row L-R: - Mr Wilson (manager), David Rucastle, Jackie Prickett, Brian Rogerson, Ronnie Pye, Alan Hoyle, Walter Pye (trainer) Front Row L-R: - Brian Walker (captain), Dougie Cohen.

A first round tie on Acrelands against Red Rose Boys Club “A” ended 3-3 before Skerton Old Boys won the replay 5-3 to set up a home second round game against Waterloo Welfare (Blackpool) which saw them make further progress by 4-0 with goals from Brian Rogerson (2), Ronnie Pye and Jackie Prickett. For the first time Skerton had to leave Lancaster to play their third round match at Fleetwood against Thornton Phoenix Youth Club but after a hard fought game they triumphed by 5-2.

The fourth round pitted Skerton against Bolton YMCA and after losing 1-2 the Old Boys were awarded the game on a protest by the Farnworth Amateur League against two Bolton clubs who at an enquiry conducted by the Lancashire Football Association were found to have participated in unauthorised football.

At the enquiry it was established Bolton YMCA and Bolton Lads Club, who were due to meet Barrow Crystal Palace Juniors, had been participating in football in an unaffiliated league and under different names to those in which they entered the LFA Youth Competition. Automatically both clubs were disqualified from taking part in the competition.

Barrow Crystal Palace were awarded the game against Bolton Lads Club and would now meet Wigan Boys Club at the semi-final stage on the Giant Axe on April 17 and Skerton Old Boys would meet Lancaster Lads Club at the same venue on April 15.

Skerton Old Boys progressed to the final of the LFA Youth Cup by beating Lancaster Lads Club 2-1 with goals from Brian Rogerson and Ronnie Pye with the Lads Club reply coming from Les Heward. The Lads Club were handicapped by an injury to their outside right Pete Hardisty who broke his wrist after 25 minutes play.

Two nights later on the Giant Axe Barrow Crystal Palace Juniors played the better football but lost in extra time 3-5 to Wigan Boys Club who would now face Skerton Old Boys at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool in the final.

The Lancaster Guardian was there to see Skerton make history: “A snap goal, headed in by black-haired outside left Alan Hoyle, after 15 minutes of the second half in a rousing LFA Youth Cup final at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool made junior football history as far as the County and Skerton Old Boys were concerned.

“That goal brought to Lancaster the newly inaugurated LFA Youth Cup (the former East Lancashire Charity Cup), a trophy handsomer than the FA Cup itself, it set the seal on a great season so far as the Skerton club is concerned and sent their 200 or more supporters into a frenzy of delight and crowned the efforts of Mr Tom Tyson, of Lancaster, veteran Chairman of the LFA Youth Committee whose baby this competition is.

“There was no prouder man at the presentation ceremony than Mr Tyson, to whose efforts tribute was paid by Joe Brown, of Blackburn, one of the trustees of the trophy which is now in Lancaster.

“The scorer of that historic goal, the first ever in the final of this competition, knew nothing about it until a few seconds after the header that decided the issue. Alan Hoyle had cut in after a smashing shot from inside right Jackie Prickett had crashed back off the crossbar, and as Burke the Wigan Boys Club goalkeeper came across too late to cover, the Skerton outside left headed the ball home, knocking himself out in the process. His first question when he came round after a few seconds was, ‘did it go in?’”

These two teams played vintage football that many onlookers including Joe Smith, the Blackpool manager, declared was more entertaining than the FA Cup Final. They were all bonny fighters but mention must be made of the grand defending of Norman Wilson, the astute foraging of right half Ronnie Moore, the cool and clever distribution of left half Stan Askew and the clever ball play of both inside forwards Jackie Prickett and Ronnie Pye.

Skerton Old Boys: - Ron Gifford; Brian Walker (captain), Norman Wilson; Ronnie Moore, Keith Walling, Stan Askew; David Rucastle, Jackie Prickett, Brian Rogerson, Ronnie Pye, Alan Hoyle. Scorers for the season taken from the Skerton School magazine:Brian Rogerson 60; Stan Askew 4; Jackie Prickett 57; Ronnie Moore 3; Ronnie Pye 33; Brian Walker 2; David Rucastle 26; L Davis 2; Alan Hoyle 18; A White 2; Ron Gifford 9; Peter Simpson 2; Norman Wilson 5; Ken Studholme 1; P Davies 5; Dougie Cohen 1. Own goals 7.