Football is very much part of the social history of the area. Some of the memories shared here go back to the 1950s, but they essentially tell the same story: Before school, after school, in break times, in parklands and on pavements, boys would be playing football, imitating the great players of the day. Prominent is also the memory of football as a social leveller. Differences based on race and colour would be less important, at least for the duration of the game.
Here, Herman Ouseley shares his memory of the role football played for him, as the only black boy in his class in a 1950s Peckham school.
Phil Walker, who signed for Millwall in the mid-70s, has very similar memories from his 1960s South London childhood:
We had a little park down the road from where we lived and I used to go there every day after school and holidays and I was just playing football all the time there. I was the only black boy there at the time, which, and I remember, but it didn’t bother me at all.
In this audio excerpt, Ron Bell remembers his early days as a Millwall fan, in the 1970s.
Below is Ron’s reflection on how some things have changed over time, while others have stayed the same:
Well, you got a team, and I like to think that football is, like my dad had an interest in football, the son has an interest in football. I’m not being sexist, but you know what I mean. That’s how football was on the traditions of football. Now, I have an interest in football, all football, my son has an interest in football, and went on to play. So, unless you don’t have that stuff going on I suppose you can miss the boat. Plus, look what young people have now. They’ve got loads, too much sometimes. So, football is just a slice.
Here, Danny Barber remembers 1980s Camberwell, with kids taking on the roles of famous players of the day:
You just wanted to be them. And then we used to, on a Monday morning especially, after watching Match of the Day, we wanted to do that in the playground, to try and be that. A good time as well, I remember, especially in the summer months, we used to go Burgess Park, and some of my Scottish friends they were Celtic, and obviously I was Liverpool.