Our Century

Alarm at not going to the dogs

Walsall Tram
The last tram running in Walsall, pictured on October 2, 1933

The Wolverhampton racing fraternity were among the front runners in the uproar in June over plans to slash the number of greyhound race meetings to ten a month nationwide.

Town greyhound owner and commission agent, Cyril Brewster, claimed the plan would place a "stranglehold on provincial tracks."

He said greyhound tracks in the provinces would be very seriously affected if the plan by the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Gambling went through.

It would also mean that the Wolverhampton weekly programme would be cut by half, said Mr B F Williams, chairman of directors of the Midland Greyhound Racing Company, which controlled the Monmore Green track.

He added that the plan would result in job losses, making it practically impossible to maintain the present large staff there if only two meetings a week were allowed. The track would not be a paying proposition.

He also pointed out that greyhound owners would be hit. With the chances of obtaining prize money being reduced the animals would become almost a direct liability.

Mr Brewster said the brightest spot in the commission report on the plan was that postal cash betting would be made legal, as it was in Scotland.

It was also feared that if the proposals were adopted, morning or afternoon meetings at Monmore Green would go - including those meetings held for charity.

Planning to see off Danish pigs: Bringing home the bacon in the pig industry was theme of an agricultural meeting at Penkridge in April, when the marketing of pigs and the reorganisation of the pig industry was discussed. The meeting heard that it was hoped the reorganisation off the industry would enable the British consumer to be offered something equally as good as Danish bacon.

RogersUnknown Rogers makes point: Popular Willenhall boxer Tommy Rogers raised British prestige in Paris by beating US boxing hero, Eugene Huat in May.

The local lad's win was a key talking point in French sporting circles for some time after the fight.

And Rogers also dispelled the French illusion up to then that the British style of boxing was inferior to the American. Rogers was an unknown in France before the fight, which he won at the cost of a split eyebrow.

Later in the month a 3,000-strong crowd braved intense mid-day heat at Wolverhampton's Pear Tree Inn to see the local featherweight beat a "punch drunk battler from Barnsley" who retired in the sixth round with a cut eye.

Staffordshire's Harry Lauder: Staffordshire farmer, Wilmott Martin, raised the princely sum of 13,000 for charity - by impersonating the famous Scots comic, Sir Harry Lauder, at farm sales and other events.

Wilmott Martin
Wilmott Martin
Sir Harry Lauder
Sir Harry Lauder

Mr Martin, who became known as the comedian's double, used to tell the story of how Lauder travelled to the farmer's home town of Hixon, near Stafford, to see the man said to bear a striking resemblance to him.

In fact the two had their photograph taken together with other farmers.

And Mr Martin treasured two letters he received from the King and the Prince of Wales, congratulating him on the remarkable amount of charity money he had raised with his Harry Lauder impressions.

Mr Martin was known as Harry Lauder by all the people around Hixon.

He got the idea to impersonate the comic when he went to see him at a theatre in Blackpool.

Later a honeymoon couple mistook the farmer for the Scottish comic when they stopped him on the front at Blackpool and told him they had enjoyed his songs. "I didn't let on," chuckled Mr Martin. "I sent them away happy."

Sir Harry was so impressed with his Staffordshire double that he sent him the crooked walking stick he used in his act, suitably inscribed.

Ian Gregory
I think there is still a great need for more courtesy in sport...
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