Written by The Old Historian Hits: 889
Sweet Georgia Brown – Brother Bones & his Shadows 1949
(The Harlem Globetrotters signature tune)
The last time the Olympics were held in London was 1948 and they have become known as the Austerity Olympics. London had been awarded the Games for 1944, however there was a small matter of a World War going on. After the war ended the International Olympic Committee decided that London should go ahead in 1948.
To put things into perspective, no new sports facilities were built nor was there such a thing as an Olympic Village! Athletes were housed in school buildings and in service camps in Uxbridge and Richmond Park. The games were held between 29th July and 14th August. Amongst venues used were Wembley Stadium, White City, Brentford FC, White Hart Lane, Windsor Great Park and Henley.
Matt Busby managed the GB Football team, and unlike now, featured players from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Several local players took part including Walton & Hersham’s Charles Neale. The GB team finished 4th, losing the Bronze Medal match against Denmark, 5-3.
The Olympics came during the close season between the 1947/48 and 1948/49 seasons. So, what were Hampton doing in 1948? Well, they were playing what we now call ‘Park Football’ or ‘Junior Football’. The team competed in the South West Middlesex League Premier Division and the home pitch was at Hatherop Recreation ground.
1947/48, was the second season after the resumption of football activities following the Second World War, and saw the first appearance of Bob Tomlin, and the return of ‘Jumbo’ Slark, whilst 1948/49 saw Alan Duddy make his debut.
Hampton finished the 47/48 season 6th out of 10 teams but won the Victory Cup at the end of the season by beating Heston 4-3, their first silverware of the post war era. In the semi-final they had beaten Bedfont Institute 5-1 (scorers Arthur Hill 3, Slark and F Cronk). Incidentally, Arthur Hill was the father of Gordon Hill who found fame with Manchester United and England, starting his career with Staines Town and Southall.
Hampton began the 48/49 season – following the end of the cricket season (in those days never the twain would meet!), with hopes of improvement (they would finish 3rd out of 6), although they failed to hold on to the Victory Cup. An early fixture saw Hampton take on local rivals, Hanworth, beating them 5-2 at Rectory Meadow – now home to Hanworth Villa – once again Hill and Slark were on the scoresheet as was a hat trick by Mills.
There was little attempt to forge an ‘Olympic Legacy’ in those far off days. The country was still recovering from the effects of the War and rationing was still in progress. You were only allowed 3 pints of milk per week, 2oz of tea per week, and 4oz of chocolate and sweets ; bread, bananas, soap and potatoes were also scarce. Fortunately the rations for the athletes were increased to the level of that allowed to Miners, but it is still a wonder that anyone had the strength to take part in sport at that time. The fortunate sportsmen were those who made friends with their American counterparts and were able to augment their rations with steaks!
The cost of the 1948 Olympics - £600,000 (and it made a small profit), the cost in 2012 – astronomic! How times have changed!