This article first appeared in the Forest Town Crier Community Newspaper in March 2003. ‘Patch’ as everyone called him was a great person, but sadly is no longer with us.
As I remember the old skittle alley was at the corner of Forest Town Welfare, next to the bowling green. But I myself cannot remember skittles being played there. My only recollection of skittles being played was when the welfare committee held their sports day on the grounds.
What a day that use to be for everyone, there was cycle racing, band competitions, athletics and side shows. That’s when we saw skittles being played, which for safety reasons was situated at the bottom of the banking next to the green hut. The green hut was used to serve refreshments for everyone.
I also remember the boxing club that was in the skittle alley. There was some up-an-coming young boxers and a chap named Dick Holland an ex pro was in charge. Dick was head trainer, you didn’t argue with him – he was a grand chap. He was a local person (lived in the village), a miner and also a NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) President.
The boxers and committee consisted of
Dick Holland and Charles Middleton – Trainers
Ernie Overton – Time Keeper
Joe Bently – Second
George Walters and Ted Gripton – Handy Men
Arthur Waterfield – Bookie
Billy Lakin – Masseur.
One Boxer I recall was Billy Rhoads, a Forest Town Lad. Billy did spar with Bruce Woodcock and Randolph Turpin professional boxers. Two more boxers from Forest Town were Stan Wilson and Roy Crofts. Additionally there was Paddy Barlow and Frank Middleton. Two lads who lived at Forest Town Hostel also boxed, Billy Docherty a likeable chap who was known as ‘Punch Drunk Billy’, and Ziggy Lvenssky. They were both nice chaps to know – good working miners.
Two boxers not mentioned are Tony Robinson (left) and Eric Swales (right) seen in this photo at an open air boxing event, Forest Town Welfare circ. 1957.