A family photo. This photograph is from 1922 and the Ton Pentre football club.
There’s Only One Will John
My Grandfather, Will John or ‘Shoni’ as he was known to his family and friends is sat at the front left of the photograph. There are all sorts of mixed emotions for me in this picture as well as a story or two. The photograph was taken shortly before ‘kick-off’ on Saturday, 4th May 1922 at Taff Vale Park, Ton Pentre, Wales in front of a crowd of 8,000 supporters. The occasion was the Welsh Cup Final against Cardiff City. Cardiff won the game 2-0 which was not surprising as they were expected to win, being the superior side. To be honest, 2-0 was a great result for Ton Pentre.
Fast forward forty years to 1962 and I was 5 and living in Birmingham with my parents. My Grandparents were on a visit from their home which was now on the coast in the Kent seaside town of Margate. My Dad’s cousin was playing for Tottenham Hotspur (Cliff Jones) and whenever they played in Birmingham, it was a day out for the whole family. So, with Grandad Shoni, me, my brother, my Dad and Uncle Cyril, we set off for St Andrew’s, Birmingham City’s football ground to see the mighty Spurs.
In those days, the trainer would march out onto the playing field wearing a long white coat and dragging what looked like a large picnic basket behind him. I assume there were oranges and the magic sponge contained within and not a meal of ham sandwiches and pork pies for the entire team. No sooner had the Tottenham trainer come out of the players’ tunnel, my Grandad was off and ran down to where the terrace meets the pitch and where the trainer sat. He called out to him and they shook hands and looked genuinely pleased to see each other. They must have had some history because my Grandad stayed chatting with the trainer for the whole 90 minutes and only returned when the game had finished.
40 Years On
Being a 5 year old, I never thought about why Grandad had spent so much time in the company of the trainer of the top football side in the country at that time. In fact, I was probably glad to get home as football was never a big thing in my life. That was that until another 40 years or so later. Around 2002, by which time my Grandad had long passed and my Dad was suffering from dementia. I was into tracing the Jones family history when by accident I came across the photograph at the Cynon Taf Photographic Archive. Thankfully, all the gentlemen in the photo are named too.
Ton Pentre AFC at that time were a professional team, playing in what was called the Southern League in the days before Division 3 or 4. Looking through the players’ names, I notice Cecil Poynton as one of the players. Immediately, I recognised that name and after a quick check, lo and behold, he was the trainer at Tottenham Hotspur during the 1950s and ’60s. So here was the answer to how Grandad had spent all that time in 1962 at the football match talking with the Spurs trainer. It was such a shame that I wasn’t able to explain to my Dad that I had found the photograph and the connection to the game back in 62.
There must also be a medal somewhere, though I have never seen one. Every player who was in the Welsh Cup final were presented with one, either a winners or losers medal which Grandad would have had. I was only 11 when he passed away and although some of his brothers and nephews went on to achieve greater things in the game of football, he never once mentioned anything about playing himself. I often wonder if he saw this photograph? Even now he has his own Wikipedia page!
I wrote this article thanks to the Weekly Prompts page.