Woodhall Athletic Football Team

"We started with just one football, borrowed kit..."

This Memory was donated by Eric. The audio clip and the transcript below are part of a longer interview recorded by the Welwyn Garden Heritage Trust in 2009.

Eric’s family came to WGC because of the Welwyn Film Studios – his father was an early film director/producer going back before the First World War.

There is another audio clip from Eric on the page entitled “Some Characters From The Early Days”. Click here to go to that page.

“The football team was before the War and I was reading in the local paper a few weeks ago and it said that a bunch of youngsters were to receive a grant of £10,000 and buy new kit. When we started, Woodhall Athletics it used to be, if you wanted to play – had you got a white shirt? or a cream cricket shirt would do and if they had they could play for Woodhall. But our little team that started on the green at the back of Woodhall Lane, a bunch of boys, we used to play friendly matches and we used to get walloped.

Well what happened one day, we were out on the green kicking the ball about and in one of the house they used to have lot of these young men who had come from Wales and Jarrow and that before the War. And these three young men were sitting in the house they had their evening meal, whatever it was, and heard the sound of voices outside and the thud of the ball and the shout and they looked out of the window and saw a bunch of youngsters chasing the ball.

Within seconds they had joined in and that. Somebody called Seth Reece who became my brother-in-law, he married my sister eventually. He became one of the best known footballers in Welwyn Garden City for years and years and then there was the other one called Glyn Weaver, another one called Arthur Flay and they were really good footballers! He played for WGC for years and for St Albans and God knows what but the thing was – those teams that used to wallop the early Woodhall Athletic – the worm had turned and it was Woodhall that did the walloping of the other teams! And it went on for years, well really and truly it was only three years, and in that, before the War came, we had won the Welwyn Hospital Cup and had been transferred or promoted to League Division 1 of the St. Albans & District League. We started with just one football, borrowed kit…

One other story. My brother David used to play originally and he didn’t have any kit and he played in his ordinary shoes and I think we were playing a team one day and he went and kicked the ball and his sole came undone and he fixed it with an elastic band and finished the game of football – he didn’t play any more as he hadn’t got any shoes!

When you look back at those youngsters – with a gift of £10,000 to start you cannot compare anything today with the past. I mean what were professional footballers were getting? £7 a week, £10 in the winter, £7. They weren’t getting any money, the policemen didn’t get a fortune or the dustmen or the firemen did they?”

This page was added on 26/06/2011.

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  • The recordings by ‘Eric’ were my uncle Eric Aylott. The ‘Seth Reece’ mentioned was my father, however our family name is spelled ‘Rees’.
    The green referred to behind Woodhall Lane was reached by an alleyway between 21 and 31 Woodhall Lane and featured a terrace of four houses. 23, 25, 27 and 29.

    By Geoff Rees (21/06/2021)