|Playing field - Jericho Lane (c) G.Seaman|
My first school was Upper Park Street in Toxteth, which I attended until I was around seven years old. At the time our family was living with my grandparents in their rented house in Hughson Street, Toxteth in Liverpool 8. The school was an old building which dated back to Victorian times and stood in an ordinary inner city street off Park Road. It had a concrete playground where P.E. lessons occasionally took place, but apart from the odd bomb-site (or ‘bommie’ as we called them), there were certainly no wide open spaces available in the area for undertaking team sports such as football. And that is where the playing field, featured in the photo above comes into the story.
|Upper Park Street School - (Best Memories of Park Road - Facebook)|
As the crow flies the playing fields are actually only around two miles away from the school itself. By car it is not very far at all. Travel south along Park Road, turning right into Aigburth Road to then follow on straight down to the junction with Jericho Lane itself.
|Former MPTE buses (photo Merseyside Transport Trust - Facebook)|
Every week the excitement would build in our class as we knew that the bus would be coming to take us out there. I recall being in the playground over lunch. As the afternoon bell drew near, as if by magic the vehicle would suddenly appear in the road outside - a huge, green and shining double decker! Once lunch was over, the teachers would make us line up in the playground with our PE kit bags over our shoulders or held within sweaty palms; each one of us jostling for position, eager to get onto the vehicle as quickly as possible and grab the prime seats.
|Parking bay - Jericho Lane (c) G.Seaman|
My mates and I had a simple but brilliant plan, and that was to sit on one of the two long seats nearest to the rear platform. We did this so that we would then be the first group allowed onto the exit platform of the vehicle, each one of us primed and ready to jump off when the bus finally slowed down as it arrived at its stop outside the changing rooms in Jericho Lane. Boys being boys, we had to push the boundaries, so we dared each other to jump off before the bus had actually stopped. More often than not the teacher would stand across the platform, holding us back behind the safety chain until the brakes had been fully applied by the driver. But every now and again we would be able to edge closer while holding onto the handrail, our excitement building as we felt the breeze on our faces as the bus started to slow, getting ready to step off as soon as the teacher pulled the chain back from in front of us.
|Parking bay and field (c) G.Seaman|
By the time the bus had finally stopped, as many of us as possible would have jumped off onto the pavement and hopefully lived to tell the tale… if we were lucky. If we were not so lucky, we’d be held back and receive a stern telling off from the teacher!
|Changing rooms Jericho Lane (c) G.Seaman|
The rest of the days' proceedings would be mostly irrelevant and completely forgettable, as I was generally hopeless at football. Consequently I spent the majority of my time on the field standing between two sticks while a gang of bigger lads fired a heavy leather football at me. This generally wasn’t good and it never ended well. I always seemed to come off worse and get blamed every time the opposition scored a goal. Needless to say I was always glad when we were back on the bus and heading home - tired, hungry and ready for our dinner.
And now? All these years afterwards?
I could never have imagined that I would be standing here in the sunshine, thinking back to those times which I remember as if they were only yesterday. When I was eight years old - feeling cold and shivering like a jelly - trying to play football in a snow-covered field with the rest of my mates from school, and failing miserably.
Maybe, just maybe, this could possibly be the reason why I now don’t like football?