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Beacontree Simister Football League
Robert Tanner

This Sunday Football League was started in 1937. A business man, Mr Simister, saw young men playing football in Parsloes Park near Meadow Road. He bought a trophy and started  the Beacontree Simister Sunday Football League. At that time it was illegal to play football on Sundays. Dagenham Council would remove the goal posts to stop them playing. So they would put their coats down to mark the goal posts, and the referee would  judge the height of the crossbar so the games were still played. The Essex FA would ban any players, and referees who took part. Some players and referees would use different names. But those who were banned could not participate in any other games, but  they continued playing on Sundays.

One young boy who played on Sundays was Alf Ramsey who went on to manage England in the 1966 World Cup. I know this because the man who refereed the game was Mr H.S. Tanner, my father!

After the Second World War Mr Tanner was asked to become Secretary of the League. He had many battles with Dagenham Council, the Church, and the Essex FA. They would target the games he was refereeing. This all came to a head in 1947 when he was asked  to attend a meeting at Dagenham Town Hall. Present were members of the Church and members of the Council. Note the Essex FA, were not there. The Church went on about working on a Sunday as that was ‘a day of rest’. The Council followed similar  lines, and also mentioned earning money on Sundays.

They then looked at my father.  He said "So it’s now my time to speak".  The Council replied "That is why we asked you here".  Mr Tanner replied "Good! I would like to start by asking you some questions. First, do you have your milk and papers  delivered to you on Sundays?"  The Council reply was "yes". My father continued "Do you know that people work and get paid to do that?". He then turned to the Church members and stated "You are the worst offenders. You work every Sunday, and you get paid  for it!  But the young men who play football on Sundays do it for fun and recreation, and the referees do not get paid, all they get is their expenses paid".

Both the Church and the Council gave in, and from that day the Councils of Dagenham, Barking, Ilford, East Ham, & Romford recognized that football could be played on Sundays. Those Councils then took it in turns to host the presentations, and other events,  like the Referees Dinner & Dances, and I have the Photos to prove it! Only the Essex FA refused to agree.

Other big names who started in the league were Martin Peters, who I went to school with and Terry Venables, who was a teenage friend of mine. Ask them.

The League is still running to this day, and is now called the Sunday Combination. And the same Trophies are still in use!

Robert Tanner
9th October 2014

Beacontree Simister Trophys for 1947 at Leys Hall, Dagenham

Sunday Simister Football League Premier Cup Final Presentation 6th April 1947

Beacontree Sunday Simister Football League 1949
Miss C. Lucas with Mayor of West Ham

Premier Cup Final 6th April 1947
Mr. H.S. Tanner is the gentleman in the middle wearing spectacles

Sunday Simister Football League 6th April 1947. Mr. H.S. Tanner picking the raffel winner
Behind him are his two of his sons, including the author Robert Tanner
Robert's brother is on his left

Beacontree Sunday Simister Football League 1947
Premier Cup Action
The games drew lots of spectators

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