Football for the ages

FOOTBALL’s in focus this week with two vintage pictures and readers’ memories.

This feature has been “kicked off” following the Peeps page story on February 6 about Woking’s railway orphanage. Raymond Hilderley rang to say not only was the orphanage used as a military hospital during the Second World War, it also had its own sports field.

GLORY DAYS: Players and officials from an unknown team – do you know who they are?

And in the 1940s and 50s there was the Railway Orphanage Cup that local football teams competed for.

Raymond played for Woking Rangers as goalkeeper in a junior league, opponents being teams from Chobham, Knaphill, and Brookwood, among others.

His team won the Railway Orphanage Cup in 1956, beating a team from Westfield in the final. His still has his medley that he says is “lovely”.

He recalls that most lads played in the junior league up until age of about 20, often having to leave when called up for National Service. He also played for the Ripley village team.

A six-a-side tournament used to take place on Good Friday each year. Raymond says teams from all around the area competed and played it at Woking Football Club’s ground in front of large crowds.

Matches were 15 minutes each way with two points for a goal and one point for winning a corner. In the early stages of each year’s knock-out tournament up top four games were taking place simultaneously on the Kingfield pitch. Other teams from the era he recalls are Woking Strollers and Woking Rovers.

Back to the orphanage and Cliff Richards rang with memories of brother and sister Charles and Doris Weston, who were his uncle and aunt. They went to live at the orphanage in the early 1900s aged five and seven, respectively.

MATCH FIT: Bisley football from 1947

Their father was a railwayman who sadly died young. Presumably their mother, who worked as a cleaner at Waterloo Station, was unable to look after them. Evidently, young Charles was the youngest child at the orphanage at the time.

However, when they were adults and spoke to Cliff about their time at the orphanage, they remembered it fondly. The family had come from Twickenham and when Charles left school he worked for the de havilland Aircraft Company Ltd, in north London. He later became a publican in Havant, Hampshire.

In his senior years when visiting his nephew Cliff in Woking, Cliff took him to see the orphanage building before it was pulled down.

The two football team photographs featured here I copied a while ago. They belong to two News & Mail readers, and as far as is known they haven’t been published in the paper before – or not for many years!

Picture 1 belongs to Jan Wylie and is of a Bisley team from 1947. Her father, Ron Alesbury, is the goalkeeper at the top, in the middle. In the middle of the middle row is Jim Murphy and below him Arthur Finch.

Jan grew up in Chobham and the Peeps page last August featured some photos of her family when they lived for a while in the huts on Brick Hill.

Picture 2 belongs to Janet Munday. Her late husband, Bernard, is pictured wearing a blazer in the centre of the middle row of the team photo. Unfortunately, the team nor the location is known. Perhaps readers can help with identifying the team, what the trophies were and where the picture was taken?

A Romany Lifestyle

David Rose and Geoff Burch are giving their popular illustrated talk, A Romany Lifestyle, at Worplesdon Memorial Hall, Perry Hill on Sunday 8 March at 3pm. Entry is free. Hear about Gypsy and traveller communities in the Woking area in days gone by, with details of Geoff’s family on his mother’s side, who first lived in tents at Old Woking and later in huts at a permanent site there known as Sundridge Camp.

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at:

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