.....to my blog dedicated to the history of Chelmsford City Football Club. I will be bloging regularly with request for information, updates on what progress has been made and other interesting tit bits relating to City's days gone by. This will be augmented by statistical and trivia postings. In this way I hope that the Blog can contribute to the compilation of a complete history of the Club. Look out too for the first issue of 'The Chelmsford City Historian' my quarterly newsletter for all those who have an interest in the history of our great Club. Finally, a plea. Please contribute if you can and help make both the Blog and the newsletter a resounding success.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

BLOG 4 - 21st March 2010


The tune that City run out to has been the subject of a thread on the unofficial City message board recently. Dave Clarke has passed on to me a cutting from the Essex Chronicle dated January 1954 when the tune was the subject of a letter from a City supporter.

The letter appeared in a column by the Chronicle’s City man at the time J. C. Chaplin. The letter went - “Can you tell me if Chelmsford City are the only football club in the country to take the field at home matches to a regular tune played over the loudspeaker? The City tune “The Bugler’s Waltz” is certainly a rousing one and should encourage a loud supporting cheer.” – Ardent Supporter.

Chaplin’s reply was – “I should say that seventy five per cent of the pro clubs have got signature tunes – and many amateur clubs too. But “The Bugler’s Waltz” is certainly a great choice. I wish it would bring equally stirring results.”

So City were certainly using the tune in January 1954, even if they didn’t know its correct title. Anyone got any evidence that it was used even earlier? The track appears on Frank’s debut album ‘Presenting Frank Chacksfield’ which was released by the London label in 1951. I’m not sure who composed the tune and when it was originally written, but it appears that its earliest incarnation was in 1951 so it couldn’t have been used by City before that date.


3 more successes this month bringing the number of players to have played a league game for City where I do not have their birth details down to 180.

I spoke to former City player Mitchell Springett to obtain the details for his father Alan, who played for City three times, twice in the league and once in a league cup tie, in November and December 1959.

I caught up with former City Manager Chris Symes at Don Walker’s funeral during the summer. His first game in charge of the club on Wednesday December 16th 1987 saw City arrive at Leicester United shorthanded and they were forced to use centre forward Paul Wilkins in goal and Stuart Pettican at number 9. Stuart was a friend of Chris’ son and at Don’s funeral he promised to track down Pettican’s details for me. A couple of weeks ago I reminded him of this and Chris has come up trumps and got the details for me. Stuart was 16 years 11 months and 16 days old when he played for City making him one of the youngest players ever to play for the Club, but more of that later. Stuart made one further appearance for the Club, a 5-0 defeat at Grays Athletic in the Essex Thames-side Trophy played 13 days after his debut, when he came on as a substitute.

John Morris pointed out to me that Jamie Reeves details are available on Wikipedia. Jamie played 5 games for the Club, 3 being league games, in September 1979 during John Newman’s spell as Manager. One of the games was the infamous 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Parson Drove United. Jamie now lives and works in Singapore and I have e-mailed him asking for a chat about his time with the Club, but as yet have had no response.


I have been corresponding with former Essex Chronicle scribe Martin Rogers, who now lives in Australia, seeking permission to include an extract from his autobiography in the first edition of ‘The Chelmsford City Historian’. Martin has been happy to give me the necessary permission and I am hoping that he will contribute regularly to the magazine with some of his reminisces of his time covering City for the Chronicle.

Martin’s latest e-mail includes some feedback on my previous Blogs.

“David. A few disconnected thoughts after reading through your posts.

Mention of Jack Parry prompts the memory that he was the goalkeeper when I first watched City in 1957 and Bill Parry (no relation) was the trainer – and father of John Parry who was in the same class when I went to the Grammar School. Even the trainer was considered a celebrity, a real life connection with the gods of New Writtle Street.

John Docherty was a great guy, a super genuine player and personality. He was unfailingly polite and considerate ‘contact’ for the up and coming Essex Chronicle football writer of the day. One terrific memory is of travelling back on the team coach from some distant away match and listening (along with a spellbound audience of players and officials) to Doc rendering ‘The Road To Dundee’ in the most brilliant singing voice. He could have been the Susan Boyle of the 1960’s!

Len Phillips was one of the finest players to wear a City shirt, even if his great days were some time past. His ability to read a situation and deliver searching and beautifully weighted passes were still something special. Another of my ‘duties’ when I was covering City in the 1960’s and 1970’s was to have a weekly audience with the Manager of the day and Harry Ferrier was a treasure trove of information about that First Division back-to-back title-winning side at Portsmouth in which he and Len played.

I’m not surprised that Tony Butcher is such an accurate source of who did what – many have represented the Club with passion and pride but probably none more so than Tony, the local boy made good. There were odd periods in his career when he seemed to miss more than he scored (which is saying something) but the fact is he was an everywhere man who could sniff out those goal-scoring opportunities with uncanny perception. And the record book shows he had a strike rate which few have matched in any tier of professional football.

Martin Rogers”


Claret Kim has asked on the Message board who is the youngest and oldest player to play for the Club. By necessity I have to keep this one down to league matches only, remember also that there are 180 players that I do not have the information for.

The youngest player to play a league game for the Club is George Lay who was 16 years, 5 months and 17 days old when he made his league debut on Saturday December 14th 2002, in 4-0 home defeat by Tamworth. George had already made his competitive debut in a League Cup tie at Welling United 18 days earlier, so it is highly likely that he also holds the record of youngest ever player in competitive games.

George is closely followed by David Hawes, Reg Folkard, Craig Newman, Stuart Pettican and Gareth Street.

The oldest player to play for City in a league game is Peter Taylor who was 42 years, 3 months and 7 days old when he played his final league game for City on Monday April 10th 1995. That was a 3-2 home win over VS Rugby with Lee Hunter, Tony Rogers and Mark Bellingham getting City’s goals.

Peter is followed by Mervyn Cawston, Ben Burley, Harry Lane, Len Phillips and John Taylor.

The oldest player to make his debut for City is Harry Lane who, following his transfer from Southend United, who was 40 years, 5 months and 3 days old when he made his debut in a 2-1 home win over Barry Town on Wednesday August 24th 1949.

Harry is followed by John Taylor, Rob Newman, Bob Glozier, Wally Gould and Tom Brolly.


Peter Foster, again on the Message Board, asked for the Club record in terms of consecutive clean sheets. This was prompted by Ashley Harrison’s run of 6 consecutive clean sheets, including 5 league games.

Well Peter, the previous Club record in terms of competitive games was 6, and this was achieved by Paul Casey who did not concede a goal between December 14th 1988 and January 7th 1989, a run that included 5 league games and an Essex Senior Cup tie. City won all 6 games, 4 of which were at home and 2 away.

Therefore Ashley equalled this record by not conceding a goal between February 8th 2010 and March 6th 2010. These 6 games consisted of 5 league games and an Essex Senior Cup tie, with 4 games at home and 2 away, with City again winning all 6 games, a record that is identical to Paul Casey.

Ashley also equalled the record for consecutive clean sheets in league games with 5, something that had been achieved on 5 previous occasions. The record was originally set by Laurie Taylor in March 1972. This was equalled by Nicky Penn in January/February 1978, and again by Willie Carrick in March 1982. Paul Casey equalled the feat in 1989, as mentioned above, with Paul Catley again keeping 5 consecutive clean sheets in February/March 2000.


Sadly former City player and Manager Peter Harburn passed away on March 13th. Born in Shoreditch on June 18th 1931 Harburn originally joined Portsmouth as an amateur before embarking on a Football League career with Brighton and Hove Albion, Everton, Scunthorpe United and Workington before signing for City in the summer of 1961. He made just 37 appearances for City scoring 12 goals, originally as a centre forward but latterly as a defender. He took over as trainer during Bill Frith’s spell as City Manager being appointed as Caretaker Manager when Frith left the Club in April 1965. He was officially appointed Manager in February 1966. He was sacked in September 1966 as the side started the season badly. He moved on to Wisbech Town and Stevenage Town before taking over as licensee of the Bird In hand public house, which was opposite City’s New Writtle Street ground.

He claimed wrongful dismissal when he left City and successfully sued the Club winning £601 in damages.


David Williams, a Bedford Town historian whom I mentioned in my last blog, has come up trumps after his visit to the National Newspaper Library in Colindale. He has sent me a report of the Bedford v City game played on Wednesday April 14th 1948. This mentions full back Don Walker so that is another blank filled in. To complete this line up, which now has only one name missing; I am inserting Tom Shalcross into the number 6 shirt as he played in the 2 games before and the 5 games afterwards, although with an asterisk that it needs checking. Only 3 more line ups to go!


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