Monday, August 20, 2012
The Birmingham Blues and a Missing Friend
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
BIRMINGHAM, UK (ANS) -- During my teenage years as a pastor’s son in Birmingham, England, I had never met anyone remotely famous – until I became a pal with Bob Evans, who lived around the corner from me in the Kings Heath suburb of the city.
Still, that didn’t put me off, especially as Bob. like myself, was a fanatical Birmingham City FC supporter and on my first visit to his home, he introduced me to his stepfather, George Liddell, who had joined “The Blues” – as the team is known by – as a player in 1920 and made 345 appearances as a wing-half and fullback during his time as a professional.
Mr. Liddell would spend hours re-living his soccer career for me as I sat spellbound, listening to his fascinating stories.
Bob and I would also spend hours in the local park kicking the ball around and dreaming of one day playing for England. I eventually became the first team goalkeeper for Queensbridge School and later for a whole string of teams in the city.
Things got even better for me when George Liddell became a soccer reporter for BBC’s Radio “Sports Report” which was anchored by Eamonn Andrews, who also hosted the BBC TV show “This Is Your Life.”
Each Saturday, Bob and myself would listen to his live report on a local game and then, when Mr. Liddell arrived home, he would present me the match program with his notes on them. I built up quite a collection which I treasured.
When Birmingham City finally did the unthinkable and reached the 1956 FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in London, Mr. Liddell called Bob and I together and presented us with free tickets for the game. We joined with thousands of other supporters to travel in a convoy of buses to see the game, but were disappointed when our team lost 3-1 to Manchester City.
Years later, I was a guest of the team at their St. Andrew’s Ground and presented the players and manager with a copy of my autobiography, “Twenty-Six Lead Soldiers”, now updated as “From Tabloid to Truth.”
Sadly, Bob moved away from Birmingham with his mother, Betty, and George Liddell, who went on to be a headmaster (principal) of a local school and had just retired, and I only saw Bob once after that.
He told me he had joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) and got married, and then later, after he had left the RAF, had became a Born-Again Christian and was working with the Salvation Army.
That was the last time that I saw Bob and I often wondered what had happened to him. If any of you who are reading this, have any ideas on how I could contact him, I would love to hear from you at email@example.com.
I know that his mother and stepfather had moved to the New Forest area in the south of England, and have since passed away, but I have no idea where Bob Evans is today.
But still, I have to thank him for introducing me to the first person I had ever met who was remotely famous. Of course, since then as a journalist, I have interviewed literally hundreds of well-known people including Mother Teresa and Coretta Scott King, widow of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, but thanks to Bob, I met this lovely man who never tired of sharing his life-stories with me.
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