Putting names to faces of footballers of the past

It was a somewhat strange phenomenon that as professional footballers in the 1970s grew their hair longer and longer, so their shorts seemed to shrink in equal measure.

Jarrow Comprehensive School under 13 football team  in April 1976.
Jarrow Comprehensive School under 13 football team in April 1976.

And the fashion for longer hair is certainly evident in today’s main photo, which was taken in March 1976 and features an under-13 football team from Jarrow Comprehensive School.

Although the caption, naming the squad, has long since been lost, readers were quick to put names to the faces when we posted it on Facebook recently.

The bell from the SS Strathairly.

Derek Fairless got in touch to name the players as Michael Belfont, Steven Walsh, Mark Fraser, Colin Kirkham, Robert Coulson, Kieth Stout, David Fixen, Paul I Connor, Derek Fairless, Greame Slater, Pop Robson, Peter Jameson and Stephen Daglish, along with teacher Mr Richardson.

Clive Howard took to social media to say: “Brilliant ... isn’t third from back Raymond Tait?”, while Raymond Tait himself got in touch to say: “I recognise quite a few of them, as they were two years below me, but names escape me.

“However David Fixen lived around the corner from me and Mark Fraser played in the same junior school team as me.”

Fiona Thompson identified “Graham Slater” while Julie Fairless said: “Bloody hell, I am your wife and I didn’t recognise you,” when trying to spot her husband.

The bell from the SS Strathairly.

Meanwhile, I’ve been sent a request from across the Atlantic, seeking help to return a ship’s bell to its home town.

The approach comes from Glenn Love, who writes: “Greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. I need your assistance, please.

“I possess a ship’s bell that came off the SS Strathairly, a Newcastle steamer that was commissioned in 1876 and met her demise off the coast of North Carolina in 1891.

“Nineteen seamen lost their lives in that maritime disaster, and for that very reason I have an interest in bringing the ship’s bell back to its native home in order to memorialize those who lost their lives and honour their descendants.

“ Furthermore, seven seamen survived the shipwreck and they may have descendants in your area, as well.

“I humbly request your assistance in determining answers to the following:

“Is there anyone in your area who may have an interest in seeing the SS Strathairly’s bell return home? If so, who?

“How would we go about finding descendants of those who lost their lives in the disaster, as well as those who survived?

“The background to my search is that in the 1960s, my father bought the ship’s bell and passed it on to me before he passed away in 1998.

“As I recall, the bell was recovered from the wreck by a dive team and ended up for sale in a maritime store in Wilmington, North Carolina, where my father found it and purchased it.

“He had the bell restored and mounted on a cedar post outside their home on a local lake where it stayed for over 30 years.

“I have had the bell for the last 20 years on my back deck where it remains mounted on that same cedar post.

“I would be delighted if this bell were to return to its home in England to remember the 19 men who lost their lives on that March day in 1891.

“Thank you in advance for your assistance with this matter.”

The loss of the SS Strathairly was reported in the Shields Daily News and Shields Daily Gazette at the time, so there may well be a South Tyneside connection to her or the crew.

If anyone can help Glenn with his quest to return the bell to her hometown, they should get in touch and I will pass the details on to him.