Paul and David Mortimer visited a meeting of "Cradley Then and Now" to report on progress by the Derby RamsTrust in their campaign to erect a statue of Steve Bloomer at Pride Park Stadium
Hop-Picking, The Bread Pudding Wars
and Football's First Superstar!
“ We had a splendid evening at Cradley Unitarian Hall on Monday 13th September with the Cradley Then and Now Group. This is the social club that are responsible for Cradley Day on October 2nd, a festival they hold every two years to celebrate the heritage of Cradley, West Midlands B63 - birthplace of the great Steve Bloomer.
The T & N Group have invited RamsTrust to put on a stall & display on behalf of the Steve Bloomer Project on Cradley Day. This stems from contact by RamsTrust in July through the Cradley Links website ( www.cradleylinks.com ) to tell them about Derby's ambitious project to honour their greatest footballing son with a statue at Pride Park Stadium. Do visit the website for extended essays on "The Destroying Angel" and his Cradley family tree stemming back 220 years.
There will be a further article giving details of Cradley Day later this month - just to say that the Rams are away at Sunderland on that day so we were pleased to be able to accept the T & N Group's invitation to Cradley Day and attended the group's 13th September meeting anticipating just a chat with the organisers about the arrangements for 2nd October.
However, it turned into a bigger event and we were delighted to be invited to address the whole group and tell them all about the Steve Bloomer statue project. There were around 50 people in attendance and as we arrived we were greeted by organisers Jill Guest and Nigel Brown. Jill (whose family tree includes the Bloomer surname) told us that after her preliminary address she wanted us to do a talk on the Steve Bloomer statue project - cue rapid scripting on the spot!
This was a privilege indeed as this month's T & N gathering was avidly anticipating a video of their recent annual hop-picking expedition. Scoff if you like - but this heritage trip was a special pilgrimage for some 50 locals. In the century before last, before Bloomer was born in the early days of the industrial revolution, Black Country workers in their thousands used to take a working break away from their factory toils to pick the hops harvest in Shropshire, in the days before seaside trips were facilitated by the first holidays allowed to workers.
So this awaited film was postponed on our behalf for 15 minutes, whilst the very attentive and warm crowd listened as we described the work of football trusts, talked about the special place Bloomer has in the history of Derby County and summarized RamsTrust's community work with the Brian Clough award, Rendezvous @ ECM contact point and the Chris Warne benefit event.
They were delighted when we described RamsTrust's progress in choosing the statue artists and the impending public fundraising, giving us a quite unexpected burst of appreciative applause! They are all looking forward very much to seeing us and our planned Bloomer displays at Cradley Day and want to support the statue appeal in some way.
We took copies of the ArtCycle Bloomer image (on your season ticket appeal letterhead!) and the Peter Seddon Bloomer biography, which we plan to sell on the day and put a donation toward the statue from the proceeds - it seems several people will buy one from us and we hope the awaited 'official' Bloomer merchandise from DCFC will also be available, to capitalise on the fund-raising potential of Cradley Day.
We also took a framed mini-pic (4" x 6") of Bloomer to give to the T & N Group which included the declaration "Cradley's finest footballer" and some career facts; Nigel Brown was so taken with it he insisted we should make more to sell on Cradley Day and gave us a donation, which we've already invested in more small frames to multiply the proceeds on October 2nd! He told us he will prepare a larger version of the Bloomer family tree for Cradley Day and the local museum has a big print of Bloomer's home on Bridge Street, which he may also be able to add to our display for the day.
The evening's main feature, the hop-picking film was then shown and immediately afterwards many people came to chat about the project and to offer football anecdotes about the Halesowen, Stourbridge and Tipton teams or chat about old Derby, Wolves & Albion players.
Then, a tall, sprightly old fellow came over and posed a question about what was the only thing missing from one particular FA Cup Final in the competition's history...? After our wild guesses he declared it was one of the referee's arms, as a one-armed referee once officiated the final! The old fellow himself was introduced to us as Derek Bloomer, who along with Norman (82) and Michael (63) have the much-honoured Bloomer surname, but weren't in attendance at our meeting - and of course, Steve Richards.
The members (and us!) enjoyed healthy portions of delicious bread pudding and it's apparent that there is a fiercely contested bread pudding competition on Cradley Day and numerous entrants were having combative banter as the official entry forms were issued. Looks like we won't go hungry on Cradley Day and if you like it too, get down to the event to sample the best!
So the Steve Bloomer Project has been taken to the hearts of the descendents & neighbours ot the great Bloomer himself and is off and running in anticipation of Cradley Day and the many other special fundraising events that will take place soon.
See you there!”
Paul & David Mortimer
Cradley Links thanks Paul and David Mortimer, who have generously granted permission to Cradley Links to reproduce their article.