Joe Dixon’s

Football Memories



Your Memories

If you would like to share an outstanding/special football memory which relates to the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s go to my CONTACT ME page.

                       1. Ray Swansbury  :- A hero and didn’t know it.

                       2. Alfie Bell             :- Here’s a funny story.

                       3. Larry Philips        :- My mate PELE.    

                       4. Billy Anderson     :- The best game of my life

                       5. Colin Fotland       :- Wembley dream, Dennis Law and George Best

                       6. Norman Baird      :- George Hardwick (Middlesbrough & England) All Stars

Ray Swansbury recalled a game from the 1962/1963 season playing for Ryhope YC Juniors against Hylton CW Juniors. This was Ryhope's first ever season in the Hetton Junior League and at this time Hylton were the best team in the League and went on to finish as champions.

This is what happened.

The game was played at Hylton and within 5 mins Ryhope had conceded a penalty. Ray saved the shot and as the ball run loose he recovered quickly to smother the ball only to receive a kick in the head for his bravery. Unable to carry on he was replaced in goal by Billy Todd leaving Ryhope with only 10 men. As it turned out Billy was having a great game and despite the continual pressure from this strong Hylton side a 0-0 draw was becoming a distinct possibility.

However with only 5 minutes to go Ray, who had spent most of the game in the dressing room, was insisting he wanted to go back on despite Ernie Carlin , the trainer, trying to talk him out of it by telling him that Ryhope were losing by 10-0. Reluctantly Ernie let him come back on and Ray, who was still in a bit of a daze, went on to the left wing. A breakaway attack by Ryhope saw Terry Barnes cross from the right wing and a first time shot from, of all people, Ray who had wandered into the penalty area, and steered it into the net to win the match 1-0 and was mobbed by the whole team. In normal circumstances this would have been a great result but playing the whole game with virtually 10 men was incredible.

At the final whistle Ray was still in a daze and had no idea what the score was and why he had been mobbed by his team mates. He spent the next 3 days in hospital before getting the all clear. It was only then that he found out what had actually happened in this remarkable game.

Goal keepers are certainly a special breed.

Sadly Ray passed away on 14/10/2011. A great player and friend.


Alfie Bell recalls a chance meeting in 2008. In his own words 'Here's a funny story....I work in the Training section at Nissan and last year I was up at a lovely hotel in Morpeth working with some delegates from all around the North East. After 3 days I was sitting next to a bald, stocky guy at lunchtime, Chris was his name, and he started talking football, and who he played for, Seaham Red Star, Dawdon, Ryhope, Murton and I said I also played for all of those teams. Then he said his finest 2 games were beating Blue Star at their ground in a semi final and then winning the final, I said that they were my finest games also, and so it turned out it was Chris Cain, I hadn't recognised him, gone was his mop of curly hair, we had a right old laugh about it and shared a few beers and memories in the bar over the course of the week'.

I wish I could have witnessed that chance meeting between two key members of the Dawdon CW side that won the Wearside League Cup in 1985 with a 3-1 win over Eppleton CW in the final. Absolutely priceless.

The 2-1 win over the mighty Blue star in the semi final was especially sweet because it was on their own ground.

The photos below are courtesy of Alfie, and show him with Chris Cain holding the Wearside League Cup and his proud family.

Thanks Alfie.


Larry Phillips, - My Memories

I first met Joe during our games with our local rivals Ryhope CA. It is true to say they were never my favourite team. To this day I believe Joe was the difference between the two sides. He would have scored MORE goals for us, Seaham Red Star, playing with Freddy Guy. Our paths in local football crossed on many occasion's, playing & managing teams before finally playing together for the Fire Brigade Over 40s.

I would like to sincerely thank Joe for this opportunity to add my memories to his wonderful site he has created. It is amazing that in reading through Joe's career, the number of players that I can also remember and rated so highly.

Just being a part of Seaham Red Star from it's creation always played a massive part in my life and after playing and being a committee man I was eventually persuaded by Tommy English & Kenny Wallace to take over as manager after there had been a lack of success from previous experienced managers being able to bring a higher level of football to Seaham that the club had always strived for. Maybe it was this passion that drove me on. We never had a lot of money to attract the top players but managed to do so with the amazing desire & atmosphere created by the committee & supporters. Many of the players ended up staying for years when they could easily have moved on for much better financial rewards.

Along with my coaches, Micky Harrison & Chris Copeland's great work and support, we achieved success in winning the Wearside League & League Cup, The Durham Challenge Cup & most importantly The Philips National Floodlit Trophy which also carried the grand prize of £12,000 worth of floodlights (An awful lot of money in 1979) and be fully erected on our ground at Seaham Welfare. The sacrifice as a club we had to make was we had to add Colliery Welfare to our name to be able to have the lights erected but it was a price worth paying to be able to have brought the first floodlit football to Seaham as it probably would never have happened.

I could not begin to name and thank the players who I greatly admired and respected as I would just never forgive myself if I missed anyone out who played for me. I just know that I made many good friends and to this day will always be most grateful for the happiness and success they brought to me and Seaham Red Star.

As my time came to an end with The Star I moved on to scout for Ipswich Town. I was there for 2 years, John Lyle retired as manager & Mick McGiven, his assistant moved to Chelsea, asking me to join him. This lead to a completely different enjoyment. Pre Abramovich, Chelsea were still looking for young English players and I was so proud and privileged to be part of the set up. With many outstanding memories, the greatest moment of my football life was to meet my all time Hero, PELE. He was the Guest of Honour at the Chelsea Dinner after they had defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 at Wembley in the 97 Cup Final. Together with other scouts working for the club we walked down the Red Carpet into The Waldorf Hotel, cheered & photographed by the hundreds of fans who must have been thinking "Who the Hell are Them!!!"

Our table was only yards away from the Greatest Footballer Ever, PELE. I was so fortunate to be able to have my photograph taken with him, I excused myself for interrupting his lunch, (I had to take this once in a lifetime chance). His only words were, "It is not a problem, if I had not been a footballer, I would have been a football fan like you"

My enjoyment now is watching my Grandson, Tyler, play for the under 10s in the Russel Foster League. I hope he enjoys his games and makes as many friends as I have during his footballing days.

Thanks Joe for bringing back so many memories through all your time to create your site.


'Me and My Mate PELE'

Thanks Larry.


Billy Anderson

Hi Joe,

I have many memories of
Ryhope Youth Club and 'CA as secretary and as a player in the Seaham & Disctrict League. But one game in particular was in the spring of 1968, it was March, my first game back after 4 weeks injury. Ryhope YC were playing away to Peterlee Town who had not lost a league game all season. The ground was too heavy for Joe to play as it would dirty his boots so Jimmy Clark asked me to play centre forward. He didnt tell me the centre half I was up against was 6ft 13ins tall. His name was Brian Hunter . I played the best game of my life; I scored 3 goals and made the final pass for Alan Pearson to score. We went into an early 2- 0 lead then Peterlee pulled 2 goals back before half time. The second half we must have played our best game of the season against the team top of the league and I managed to score another 2 goals in the second half to win 4-2. Its a game I will never forget. I came off the pitch at final absolutely knackered.

(Thanks Billy. I bet you thought I wouldn’t print your remark about why I wasn’t playing. In my defence there was also a slight breeze that day and I didn’t want my hair blown out of place.)

Billy’s memory was also a great one for Ernie Carlin who was Trainer at the time. Below is a tribute from Ernie, which appeared in the Ryhope CA match programme on 13th December 1980, and includes his recollection of this game.


Colin Fotland

Hi Joe,

Your website brought back so many memories. I remember scoring against Prescot Town in the Floodlight Competition with a volley from the half way line after the keeper kicked it out of his hands and also playing against Chris Waddle for Tow Law Town in the semi final of the Durham Challenge Cup.

I didn't score many being a centre half!!!

My boyhood dream was to play football at Wembley Stadium, the old one obviously, but when Seaham Red Star lost to Whickham in the FA Vase when I was still in my thirties I thought that was it, my final chance had gone. No way!!!

The reason we moved to Cambridge in 1985 was because I became head of Security and Audit for Rumbelows, the electrical retailers and in 1991 and 1992 they sponsored the Football League Cup with the Rumbelows Manager of the Year, presenting the trophy. At a National Sales Conference at the NEC Birmingham in 1991, Dennis Law and Jack Taylor the FIFA referee, came on the stage to announce that there was going to be a national Football Competition within Rumbelows, with 15 teams in the north of England and 15 teams in the south of England. The winners of the northern section would play the winners of the Southern section at Wembley, in a 25 minutes each way match before the Man Utd. v Sheffield Wednesday League Cup Final.

My dream became alive again and believe it or not, to cut a long story short, I captained the Rumbelows Head Office Team  against Winsford Warehouse in Cheshire in our Company cup final. To play on that pitch was magnificent, even at 43 years of age. I gave their centre forward 23 years start but I'm pleased to say he didn't score.

Sadly we lost the final to Winsford Warehouse, who were a much better team than the crocks we patched together at Head Office and I was gutted, but most of the guys were just happy to get to Wembley. I walked proudly up the 39 steps to collect my runners up medal, without knowing we were in for yet another surprise.

That night after the game we ended up at Scribes, which is a nightclub in Kensington, owned at that time by Terry Venables, who fancied himself as Frank Sinatra. I was sitting with my wife and one of my Managers and his wife, together with Dennis Law and his family. Dennis Law was great company and later that evening he asked if we minded bringing in another table, which we were quite happy about. To our surprise in walked George Best and Miss World Austria and sat in our Company. You couldn't make it up. I have no photos because I didn't want to cause a fuss, but I have memories of the occasion that will never leave me. I also managed to get an autograph of George for my daughter Lynda, (To Lynda, With Love from George Best) by sliding her autograph book under the table to George, via Dennis Law so no one new what was going on.

Thanks Colin for these great memories. It would have been extra nice if you’d taken this ‘once in a life time opportunity’ as Larry did with the great Pele, and had your photograph taken with Dennis and George.


Norman Baird recalls playing in a charity match on 17th March 1968 at Dawdon CW’s impressive Green Drive ground. This match was  in aid of the “GRAND SCHOOLS ATHLETIC MATCH - France v Scotland v England” which would take place 4 months later at Houghton-le-Spring Modern School.

First of all I was quite proud to be selected to represent the league and play alongside good players I normally play against. But to play against George Hardwick’s team, who were truly ‘ALL STARS’ was incredible. As you can see, from the match program, all were legends of North East football from the late 1940’s to the early 1960’s and nearly all were international players and household names.

With most of their players well into their 40’s we had the edge throughout the game. After we scored our 3rd goal a couple of the pro-stars, Bob Hardisty and George Hardwick, suggested we help get the crowd up and excited. So we said we would give them a penalty. The idea was for George Herd to run at our defence and for Arthur Rich to foul him in the box. All was put in place only for the referee to wave play on after George fell to the ground as no one had told him of the ploy. Ha Ha.

After the game ended we all went back to the Dawdon CIU club where we were introduced to these famous ex pro’s. Most enjoyable. The only disappointment was that Stan Anderson couldn’t play because of club business at Middlesbrough. However he kindly sent first team player Alex Smith as a replacement. All in all a great day.

P.S. By the way the score was 3-2 to us and I scored twice and laid the third one on for J. Humphrey.

The ALL STARS line up, at their peak, would have been a formidable team in any era. To just play against such a line up would be an incredible memory for anyone. Scoring 2 goals, which didn’t surprise me, makes it all just perfect.

Thanks Norman.