I was brought up in a working class environment, by a father and mother whom I loved and respected and can vividly recall to mind. As long as I can remember, and at the end – my own little prayer was said; “Please God, make me a Professional Footballer.” This and many other things that happened to me made my parents always say; “Our Samuel’s a lucky fellow!” And this has always seemed to have followed me all my life. Forever of cheerful disposition, and from a child, I have always tried to enjoy life to the full.
I was quite a good scholar at school, but all my best schooldays were spent on the football pitches or cricket fields. I was simply mad about any sport. I became quite good at football, at least so I thought. But my headmaster said that I would be better as a cricketer. Either way, it felt great.
I played football for my school and represented my Divisional Area of Schools. My school was Glebe School which is in the New Town of Washington. I proceeded to play for my district which had a most distinguished player; Jimmy Hogan. He was later to play for England at schoolboy level.
After school I was to play for Usworth Juniors, Fatfield Juniors and Ferryhill Athletic AFC and so to my short, but exciting, professional career. It really was a happy time for me because it was always what I’d wished and prayed would happen. And so the pattern of my life was cast.
During my amateur career I signed for Sunderland AFC and played in beginning-of-season football matches and two matches with their reserves. This was a dream come true because Sunderland was the team I supported right through my childhood days. They didn’t sign me professionally so I cancelled my amateur forms with them because all I wanted to be was – a professional.
One day, the Middlesbrough AFC First Division Football Manager and his assistant, came to my home to see my parents. They asked if I could sign professional forms for their Club. The previous week, I had been to Bolton Wanderers Football AFC for a week trial period and I guessed that Middlesbrough wanted to step in and sign me first. After negotiating terms, I finally signed and this led to three-and-a-half very happy years.
Signing those forms actually finished my amateur career and I travelled to Ferryhill to say Cheerio to my player colleagues. On the same bus was the Sunderland Director and his Assistant Manager who were going to offer me professional terms. That was a great disappointment to me as I had always wanted to sign for Sunderland.
Ayresome Park - Middlesbrough Home Ground in the 1930’s
Never mind, a new era in my life had begun and the few years that followed were to teach me how to take care of myself for the rest of my life. They also prepared me for the ordeal that I had yet to face.
The ‘Lucky’ tag was to stick with me. Looking back on my life, I’m sure that we make our own luck and that we have to earn it. In my professional career I made many friends. And, even now, after all these years, we still keep in touch. So, Comradeship in Football never really dies.