Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Friday, 15 April 2022

Weston Tragedies

This feels like a kind of starting point.

George Kennedy, the Weston Soccer Club's trainer, was killed by a fall of stone in Hebburn Colliery yesterday. The deceased had been a popular member and player of the Weston Club for some years, and took over the duties of trainer upon the death of Hicks. The accident following upon those of W., Lambert, W. Hicks, and Peter Coppock, all of whom have been killed within the past two years, hits the Weston Club hard. In consequence of the fatality, the match which was to have been played at Weston tomorrow between Weston and West Wallsend has been abandoned.

This article in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (Friday 7 September 1923, page 2) underlines the extent to which Weston Bears has its share of tragedy as well as glory in its annals. Sid Grant puts the matter eloquently when he claims the club's "glorious cavalcade of triumphs has been punctuated with tragic occurrences which have struck at intervals to bring the club to its knees."

Every sporting Club has its go-to stories of pain and despair but what is it about Weston that means it has a little more than its fair share? Rotten luck is one answer but perhaps the tragedies and their reporting and memorialisation are a measure of the club's standing in the Coalfields. Grant writes of the death of Bill Lambert in a fall of coal at Hebburn No. 1: 

A pall of sadness spread right across the soccer firmament. The funeral cortege was one of the biggest seen in the North since Les Darcy died and was buried at East Maitland.

Soccer was a big deal in the region at that time and the death of a great club's best player and captain was a major public event.

This also makes me wonder whether the tragic history of Weston has given the club senses of history, importance and belonging not shared by many other Australian soccer clubs. Events that have caused repeated public memorialisation have in effect forced Weston into public historical consciousness in a way that Western United (for example) can only dream of. And while it seems from here (Melbourne) that Weston might be but a memory, I'm not sure that that is the case in its hearth.

I'd be interested in responses to this idea. Feel free to leave a message in the comments.

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