The 1947 Knowle side

edward victor plews 1947 back 3rd from right

3rd from right, back row - Edward Plews. 2nd from left, back row - Harold Whitehouse. Far right, middle row - Ron Sharman

Knowle’s 1947 side was one of our most successful teams, particularly in the early years of the club. The team competed in the Birmingham Youth & Old Boys Amateur Football Association that year and won the league and cup double! 1947 also saw Knowle FC build their clubhouse at Hampton Road; of course the building is still in use today, albeit with a few modifications.

The club have been collecting as much information as possible on the 1947 team, and have been ably assisted by some of the relatives of former players. If you recognise anyone in the photo, please get in touch through this website! The photo was actually provided by Mr Colin Plews who is the nephew of Edward Victor Plews; third from the right on the back row. Colin, if you are reading this, please let us know if you have any details about your uncle’s time with Knowle!

The gentleman who is second from the left on the back row of the photo has been identified by his son and grand-daughter Karen as Harold Whitehouse. Harold is around 24/25 in the photo and like many of the players, he joined Knowle when he returned home after World War Two. Karen has Knowle FC medals at home belonging to Harold dated up until 1949, when she believes he gave up football in order to better support his family – Harold had seven children in total! Harold was a lorry driver, and once told his son that he had a trial at Wolverhampton Wanderers, but had to turn them down as his driver wages were better than football wages! How times have changed! Harold died in 1965.

On the right side of the middle row is Ron Sharman; he played for Knowle for 5 seasons from 1947-52. Apparently Ron was a keen statto, and kept diaries detailing his footballing career – therefore his nephew Neil Stretton and son Stuart have been able to provide us with the following details about Ron and Knowle FC during this period:

After the war Ron was a 'Bevan boy' on the Kent Coalfield, and started his adult playing days with Betteshanger Colliery Welfare. After 2 years in Kent (9 months after the War ended), Ron was 'demobbed' and returned to live in Balsall Common and work for Triumph. He started playing for Alvis in the Coventry Works League in the 1946-7 season because they were his Dad's Social Club team. Ron played for them for 4 seasons before a fellow Alvis player called Charlie Allen moved to Knowle FC (we believe Charlie may therefore be in the squad photo – can anyone identify him?!). Knowle’s committee were apparently looking for a “strapping centre forward” and so Charlie recommended his old pal Ron, a six footer whose work down the mines had given him a certain level of robustness! Ron joined Knowle at the start of the 1947-8 season and went on to play 5 seasons, scoring 10, 15, 21, 20 & 12 goals respectively.

Interestingly Ron used his contacts in the East Kent Football community, to set up a Pre-season Tour in two of his seasons at Knowle FC. In the summers of 1948 and 1949, he organised 3 games (and a week's holiday !), for Knowle to play Betteshanger, Deal & Snowdown Colliery (in 1948) and Dover (in 1949). As wages were low following the end of the war, the Knowle Committee subsidised the players' rail travel and accommodation at a ‘Boarding House' in Deal. Ron recorded the results and his comments as follows:-

July 1948: Deal 3 Knowle 1 ("I scored !")
August 1948: Betteshanger 0 Knowle 0 ("marked out the game by my old mates - including being clattered to the ground by 'Sailor Murphy' !")
August 1948: Snowdown 2 Knowle 0
July 1949: Betteshanger 0 Knowle 1 ("revenge - I scored !")
July 1949: Deal 1 Knowle 0
August 1949: Dover 4 Knowle 0 ("difference in class")

Ron goes on to say that the Knowle players were, "royally entertained by his old Colliery mates and their families - even though many had hardly two sticks to rub together" and how much the Knowle team enjoyed their time "at the seaside - bringing back memories of life before the war".

Ron left Knowle in 1952 and signed for his brother in law’s team Lockheed Leamington. Charlie Allen also left the club at the same time to join Coleshill Town. Ron scored 27 goals in four seasons at Leamington. He was also instrumental in arranging a pre- season friendly against his old Knowle side in August 1956. Ron’s notes say "30 now, probably last season, but playing AGAINST Knowle for the first time. Scored 1 goal - a header - but we lost 1-2. Still a few old friends playing for Knowle - Dennis Cooper scored both goals for them". We believe it is possible Dennis may be a relative of an old Knowle chairman, Gordon Cooper! Ron’s son Stuart provides a summary of a press cutting from the Leamington Courier, 10 August 1956 which reports on the game the previous week:

"Sat 4 August Pre-season Friendly: Lockheed 1 Knowle 2 (Attendance: 165) - Lockheed put out a mixed First & Reserve team against Knowle, from the Worcs Combination Div 3. Sharman scored Lockheed's only goal and Cooper got both goals for Knowle. A hard work out against lower League opposition, Lockheed will need to up their game for the new Birmingham League season. As ever, they relied too much on Sharman up front, who used to play for Knowle. After the game, he told the Courier that it will probably be his last season for the club. They will miss him".

Ron did indeed retire from football in 1957 at the age of 30 and Stuart tells us his dad used to say “Old age and family life!” ended his playing career!

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