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20th Century Characters

Ernest Wagstaff

His first football experience honed on the irregular nature of Clayton’s Yard and Billy’s field, no doubt led to his mastery of the game enabling representation of the Mickletown school side prior to a successful career in junior football. Ernest played in most attacking positions for local teams, being a prolific goal scorer for Whitwood Mere as he was during his tenure with Methley United Juniors. A match report for October 1955 records Ernest having scored 9 of 13 goals in a match versus Middleton Rovers.

A top of the table clash (reported in 1955) with Ashley Road Methodists brought a successful run by Methley to an end and cruelly introduced Ernest to the accident ward of Leeds Infirmary with an ankle injury. He had been selected to lead the West Riding Youth in the National Championships the following week.

He has affectionate memories of his football experiences, playing alongside many of his former schoolmates including his old mate Kenny Williams. He particularly remembers going to Milnsbridge in a cup competition and having to clear cattle out of a shed before being able to change!

Ernest still supports the beautiful game but is often at a loss as to how so many highly paid stars today show an inability to dribble and are content with flat and backward passing.CWorking Party1

He is also very proud of his grandson Scott’s football career who plays the game professionally – it must run in the family.

Ever visible on his bike, he is a supporter of many aspects of this village after a lifetime in the local pits he can be seen as one of the volunteers working on clearance and maintenance of the church yard. If you like the aspect of the church yard these days as you pass by – then please offer a word of thanks to Ernest and the other volunteers who roll their sleeves up and get mowing on your behalf. Mind, he acquired horticultural expertise, along with many other values when he married Barbara, daughter of master of the allotments – Buller Bell.