Peter Kirkley mister football at Wallsend Boys’ Club.
The 1970s were very significant years in the history of Wallsend Boys’ Club since it seems to have been that decade in particular that established its strong reputation for turning out first class footballers. An article in 1980 in the ‘Evening Chronicle’, written by John Gibson, described Wallsend Boys’ club as a breeding ground for football league stars.
It pointed out that at that particular moment in time 12 out of a squad of 15 under-15 players were signed up with league clubs. It also listed just some of the professional players of the time who had started their careers at Wallsend Boys’ Club. Among them were Ray Hankin, Eric Steel, Alan Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Rob Hindmarch, Mick Tait, Les Taylor, Steve Bruce, Tony Sealy, David Lawson, Gordon Nisbet, Phil Cavanagh, and Ian Watson. There were other players still to come through the ranks of the WBC teams.
How had this come about? Clearly there had never been a deliberate decision made to make football the particular focus of excellence of the club. And it was still by no means the only activity in which the club did well. But clearly something unusual was happening at the club judging by the sheer quantity and quality of the players being produced there.
The newspaper article gave a lot of the credit to one man, Peter Kirkley, who had joined the club in 1969 as footballing coach. At that time, just as the club had established itself into its new premises, Dave Beardall recognised that he needed help to run the footballing side of things and persuaded a local football coach, Peter Kirkley to join him at WBC.
Peter then took over the running of the eleven-a-side football teams. When he took over there was only one such team, but this was soon to change. By the time the 1980 article was written, there were seven, all with their own manager.
Peter was proud of the fact that all his league stars were local. Players had to live within a five-mile radius of the Boys Club, but the majority came from within two miles of the Club. Years later Peter Kirkley was to say that he was interested not just in the potential stars, of whom there were many, but in every boy playing for the club teams.
The key was discipline. On turning up for their first coaching session, the boys had to memorise a list of rules which governed things like the subs they had to pay, the smartness of their kit, their punctuality and courtesy, and their behaviour generally, both on and off the pitch. These rules were very much in the tradition of the original boys’ club constitution with its emphasis on supporting the ‘mental, physical and social’ development of the members.