For almost as long as I can remember I have been a supporter of Plymouth Argyle FC popularly known as ‘The Pilgrims’ and as the football season has just come to an end, it’s time for reflection. Why Plymouth you may ask? Well it dates back to my childhood. My father was born in Newton Abbot in Devonshire, some 30 miles from Plymouth. His father was a carpenter working in the dockyards in the city, and despite two other Devonshire teams, Exeter and Torquay (which were a lot nearer) we always followed the fortunes of Argyle. From memory Plymouth was usually regarded as the top team in the County and rivalry between the three clubs was legendary especially between the two cities. I’m not quite in that league, being an outsider and I’ve always had a soft spot for the other two Devonshire clubs, but my first loyalty was and is to ‘The Pilgrims’.
How come Sam Woods, a former hewer (miner) from Wigan and a complete outsider managed to win the Tory seat of Walthamstow at a by-election in 1897, for the small group of working class MPs known as Lib-Labs who represented working class and labour interests, but were politically Liberals? I found the answer in an article written by John Shepherd, a principal Lecturer at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology in the 1987 edition of the Essex Journal.
This week I went to a meeting organised by the London Socialist Historians Group to hear Rosie MacGregor, a long standing Nalgo and UNISON colleague, speak about her recently published book on the life of Angela Gradwell Tuckett. Rosie had told me about the book when we met by chance at last November’s demonstration and parliamentary lobby against the government’s trade union bill.