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Two Rooms And A View: 87 - Malcolm’s Success

Robert Owen attends a show which convinces himn that hypnotism really does work.

Tuesday was always a popular night at the club's practice nets because the selected teams for the following weekend were displayed on the pavilion notice board. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, 10th July, 1951, we were both busy. Malcolm had a school cricket match and I had a special BB Presentation evening for the Battalion football team winning the Jarrow and District J.O.C. League Division Two Championships the
previous season.

However, as I had made a few runs in a third team game the previous week and I knew a few of the regular first and second team players were on holiday, I decided to call at Wood Terrace on the way to the presentation ceremony.

It was well worth the effort. For the first time, Malcolm was selected for the second team versus Hordon and yours truly was one of its perpetual reserves. I knew he would be surprised and excited by his selection, so I got on the next bus to Cleadon recreation ground to break the news.

He just didn't believe me and thought I was joking. So, at the end of the school match, we both returned to Wood Terrace. I remember walking along behind the crowded nets in my best sports jacket and flannels, with Malcolm in his school gear.

Seeing was believing. That summer evening in July 1951, Malcolm's cricket career took off and I was very late for my football presentation event!

After that his progress was phenomenal. whilst still a messenger at Binns’ store he made his first team debut on the 18th August, at the age of fifteen years and three months.

Two years later, at short notice, he was chosen to play for Durham County against Lancashire Second XI at Old Trafford.

I recall the day very well because, all excited, he came down to our ‘two rooms and a view’ to share the good news with me. Unfortunately, I was out. I read about his success in the Journal the following morning and despatched a telegram of congratulations.

A year later, he was selected for the Minor Counties and scored fifty in each innings against the great Australian touring side. After three successful seasons with Durham, and two years' National Service Malcolm went on to play county cricket for Northamptonshire from 1959 to 1969.

His sporting achievements did not stop there. After playing junior football for Cleadon Juniors, although a Sunderland supporter, he signed part-time professional forms for Newcastle United.

In January 1957, in true story-book style, he came home from work as an apprentice at Readhead's shipyard on Friday night, to find a Newcastle United official waiting on his doorstep. United's regular centre-half, Bob Stokoe, had failed a fitness test and Malcolm was required to make his debut at Manchester the following day. It is significant that, although Manchester United won 6-1, their England centre forward, Tommy Taylor, was not one of the scorers. The following Monday the Gazette headline read: "Black Day for Magpies but Scott had fine debut."

During the next five years, Malcolm went on to make 25 additional appearances for Newcastle United. If it had not been for national service and his conflicting cricket career, it might have been many more.

In spite of Malcolm's success, most Saturday mornings during the summer of 1951 found us down town visiting the library and inspecting any new sports books at T J Allens and Phillips book shops. A mandatory visit to Wares and Rippons was also essential to see the latest sports gear, although it was usually much too expensive for us to think about buying anything.

One evening, in the late summer of 1951, as keen young teenagers, we took a football to the beach to practise on the sand for the forthcoming football season. The car park overlooking the beach was crowded and, unknown to us, several of the occupants were watching us demonstrate our skills. After a while, an impressive looking middle-aged gentleman got out of a car and came to speak to us. He asked our names and for whom we played. Thinking he might be a scout from Newcastle or Sunderland we gladly co-operated.

He seemed impressed with what he saw and said he would look out for our names in the press during the coming years; undoubtedly he saw Malcolm's. However, I have often
wondered if he confused me with someone of the same name, who captained the successful South Shields team, when, with Charlie Thomas as manager and before 15,000 crowds, they won the old North Eastern League Champion ship in 1957/58.

Most Saturday evenings during the football season we went to the cinema. However, one evening we really lashed out and went to Sunderland Empire. The attraction was Peter Casson, the 1950's equivalent of Paul McKenna, the famous hypnotist. We both went into the theatre very sceptical, but came out thinking there is much more to this than we thought.

Sitting next to us in the stalls was a young man who was a real sceptic. Before the show started he stated in a loud voice, that he was going on the stage to prove this bloke was a charlatan. When Peter Casson asked for volunteers, he was first in the queue.

After being hypnotised he returned to his seat, and the orchestra started playing 'So tired' during the interval. My loud¬mouthed neighbour immediately fell asleep with his head on my shoulder. When the music stopped, he awoke unaware of what had happened. During the second half of the show, he went back on the stage and was de-hypnotised.

Returning to his seat at the end of the evening and not remembering a thing, he proudly turned to the audience and said, "There, I told you he couldn't hypnotise me!" We knew otherwise.

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