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The Reyrolle Story: 31 - An England Goalkeeper

Reyrolle, the huge Tyneside engineering firm,produced many excellent sports people, including goalkeeper Ray Wood, who played for England and was one of Manchester United's famous Busby Babes.

Robert Owen continues his history of the firm which he joined as an apprentice.

To purchase a copy of Robert's book please click on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reyrolle-Story-History-Co-Ltd/dp/1905295073/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245678876&sr=1-1

During the austere post-war years and with such a large workforce, sports activities provided by the Company grew in popularity. It was the golden age of cricket with Reyrolle's first team winning the Tyneside Senior League in 1948/49/50. Chapman (2003) describes their success and how, ruddy and rotund George Baston and Aussie post-graduate student Peter Molloy were stars of the team. George went on to play for Northumberland and Peter was the first Australian to represent Durham County. George recalls when he visited Australia for Reyrolle in 1970, he looked up his old cricketing colleague and found him managing a copper mine on the Gold Coast.

Why did the Accounts Department at Reyrolle provide so many successful cricketers? Andy Landells was perhaps the most well known. He was Captain, Secretary and Chairman for many years and died far too young in 1971. There was also Ernie Broome, who was professional at several local clubs before returning to Reyrolle to become a "cricket pensioner". Tim Masarachi was small in stature but big in heart as he opened the batting against the best of the bowling. Eddie Dance played for many years and then organised the Inter-departmental Competition as member of the Sports Management Committee (SMC). Then there was Bob Smith - Captain of a very successful Second XI, slow bowler Harry Hudson and future Chairman of the SMC, Cyril Mudditt.

Perhaps the most successful of the many Reyrolle sportsmen was Ray Wood. An apprentice during the late 1940s, Ray played in goal for Reyrolle Juniors in the Jarrow and District J.O.C. League. After some experience with Newcastle and Darlington he signed for Manchester United while still an apprentice. Keen for him to complete his training, John Gray - Reyrolle Training Officer, arranged for him to finish his apprenticeship with Associated Electrical Industries in Manchester. During the fifties Ray went on to become a member of the famous 'Busby Babes' and gained three caps as an England goalkeeper. On 6th February 195 8 he was seriously injured in the Munich plane crash that claimed the lives of eight Manchester United players.

Ray recovered and then spent many years coaching throughout the world. The former Reyrolle apprentice died in 2002 and Manchester United were represented at a well attended Memorial Service at St. Aloysius R.C. Church. Baden Powell, a life long friend remembers 'Timber Wood' as a school mate, apprentice and football colleague who in spite of his success never forgot his years at Reyrolle.
Bob Wood (no relation) (Hebburn Works) Alan Miller (Drawing Office) and Bill Downey (Test) were also Reyrolle employees who made the grade as football league referees, although rumour suggested that the former dare not return to Merseyside after a rather robust local derby.

The highlight of the rugby season was often the annual Reyrolle versus Parsons game. In 1956 the switchgear manufacturers beat the turbine makers with what the Reyrolle Review described as "A penalty goal kicked by Ken Land from outside the 25 yard line, near the touch-line and against the wind".

Perhaps the most remembered sports activities in the Company were the Inter-Departmental Competitions. These involved a variety of sports with numerous teams entering from throughout the works and offices. Played after work they were a mixture of young, Saturday afternoon regulars and older occasional players. A good time was had by all.

The 1950s were also famous for the Firm's Annual Field (or Sports) Day. A mixture of individual pursuits and team games, the Field Day was very popular with families. When blessed with a fine day over 5,000 crowded into the sports field. The event ran without a break for eleven years, before disappearing without a trace in 1962.



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