Tribute to former Heanor Town player

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Former Heanor Town player John Ivor Lumsden has passed away, writes Stan Wilton.

John Lumsden was raised with his two younger sisters at the family home of 17 Kerry Drive, Smalley. His lorry driver father, Ivor, was an accomplished local footballer in the days when turning professional was not as rewarding as having a ‘proper’ job.

His mother, Alice, was an even rarer commodity in those days – she too was an accomplished footballer who played in midfield or up front for the famous Ripley Ladies when they were acknowledged to be the finest ladies team in Britain aside from Doncaster Belles.

Hardly surprising then that young John became a footballer. He skippered the junior team at Smalley Boys Endowed School, and later the Heanor Grammar School side. He was selected for the renowned Ilkeston & Heanor Boys at 14 and would undoubtedly have gone on to play for England Schoolboys had he not turned professional at the age of 16.

He played for Heanor Town Colts at the age of 14 in the Notts Elizabethan Youth League (U18) and won league and cup honours before becoming a regular in the Lions Reserves.

He made his first team debut for Heanor Town on Saturda, March 8, 1958 – in a Central Alliance League Division One (North) game at home to British Ropes.

I will leave the Heanor vice-chairman of the time, Ivan Cox, to set the scene for “Lummy’s” debut in his programme notes for the game that day.

“Congratulations to our Reserve side for a fine 4-0 win against a strong Sutton Town reserve side, at Heanor last Saturday, which included Jimmy Bullions, who will be remembered for his performance for Derby County at Wembley when he gained a cup winners medal and also for “pint sized” Barry Richardson who gave him the run around.

“Also in the Sutton side were Bullimore, Simmonds, Rawson and newly signed goalkeeper Sadler from Notts Forest. Our success was gained by a fine display by the entire side but especially I must mention Lumsden at left half for he played like a veteran. Although only 15, he will be making his debut with the seniors today, and we wish him every success because he will be joining Aston Villa in the summer.”

I have cause to remember that game, more for the off-field activities, than the on. The referee was a close family friend in Kenny Holmes.

The game was around 35 minutes old when snow started to fall and turn into a blizzard. Heanor were leading 4-0 and it didn’t look good for a finish. Kenny took the players off, informing the 700-strong crowd that, “If it stops we will continue”.

Twenty minutes later, it stopped and Kenny instructed club officials to clear the lines, and brushing having been completed the game restarted. After 45 minutes, Kenny blew for half-time. The British Ropes players trooped off.

Now Kenny had a booming voice to match his physique. He stood in the Mayfield Avenue penalty area and boomed out at the visiting players, “And where do you think you’re going? You’ve ‘ad yer break and wey tonning strate rernd!”

I can today, 56 years later, still imagine standing on the ‘Coke Heap’ and hearing Kenny’s voice.

With the help of the Town Ground training lights, which were only down one side of the ground and behind the top goal, the game was completed and there were three hat-tricks in the Heanor forward line that day in their 10-0 win. Keith Allen (one from the penalty spot), Don Brown and Colin Pearson all got threesomes and Tommy Capel nicked the other.

The Heanor team was: Don Black, Sammy Mee, Ray Young, Freddy Haynes, Ken Rawson, John Lumsden, Ray Brown, Colin Pearson, Don Brown, Tommy Capel and Keith Allen.

John Lumsden found first team appearances limited at Villa Park and after a season in which he skippered the Reserves, Joe Harvey saw his talents and took him to Third Division Workington where he spent several seasons as captain of the club, leading them to a record Football League Cup quarter final narrow defeat at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.

After a distinguished career at Borough Park, “Lummy” joined Chesterfield, and in a team that was skippered by Shaun O’Neill and contained those deadly strikers Ernie Moss and Kevin Randall, he won a Fourth Division championship medal.

It was, perhaps, fitting that his career should finish where it had started – at Heanor Town, and he re-joined the Lions for his second debut on Saturday, March 13, 1971 in a 1-0 defeat at Arnold. He retired from football at the end of that season having helped the Lions to pick up the Derbyshire FA Senior Challenge Cup with a two-legged final win over then Cheshire League Buxton.

In his first season with the club, he proudly received ‘gongs’ for his achievements with the Colts side in the Notts Youth League, and in his second a medal for being a member of the Heanor Town Reserve side which won the Derbyshire FA Divisional Cup (North) on Good Friday, April 4, 1958, beating Matlock Town Reserves 2-1 at Causeway Lane.

In his last season, he won a Derbyshire FA Senior Challenge Cup medal.

Sadly, “Lummy” passed away on February 19. His funeral service took place at Chesterfield Crematorium on March 12.