Tony Pickrell (1942-2015)

CoymayI received a sad e-mail this morning from Adrian Pickrell, the son of former City winger Tony, saying that his father had peacefully passed away in his sleep yesterday morning.

Regular readers of this blog will probably know that Tony was an occasional contributor on here over the past three years or so, but, for those who weren’t aware of this, they may like to have a look at the following;-

Tony’s career was over virtually as soon as it had begun as tuberculosis forced his retirement at the age of just nineteen after he had scored four times in twenty appearances in all competitions for the club. Therefore, I missed being able to see him play for us by about eighteen months, but it is a measure of the man that he went on to play rugby to a good standard in the decade following his departure from football.

I never met Tony, so I cannot really say that I’ve lost a friend, but the fact that this blog has lost a friend was made clear in the message I got from Adrian today – a message he has given me permission to use here;-

“Dear Paul,

I deeply regret to inform you that my father, and avid reader of your blog,  Tony Pickrell sadly passed away in the early hours of Monday morning. He had been in pain for several months and had a short stay in Swansea hospital but they could find nothing.

My wife and I returned home from Spain on Saturday and I called Tony to chat about City’s win and he was getting ready to enjoy the Wales/England rugby game in the evening. He sounded quite chirpy on the phone.

On Sunday he was in a lot of pain and watched a further rugby game before retiring to bed. He died in the early hours of Monday morning peacefully in his sleep.

As you can imagine we are all very, very sad. He really was, as everyone said, a lovely bloke and a wonderful father.

 I am now in Germany waiting for further details concerning the funeral and I will plan to fly over accordingly. My mother wishes to drape his blue and white City scarf over the coffin.

He enjoyed your blog and always said “This fellow Paul Evans knows what he’s talking about. It all makes good sense”! He even appreciated the regular commenters by saying “there’s not a single idiot amongst them, they all know their stuff”!

Sorry about this sad news, but I thought it would be right to would let you know. After all, Tony’s career was short, but he still actually achieved something so many of us dream of but never achieve.. to play top flight football for the club he  always loved. He was a great bloke and will be sorely missed.

 Take care and keep safe.

 My very best wishes.


Rest in peace Tony and my commiserations to all of his family and friends.

This entry was posted in R.I.P. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Tony Pickrell (1942-2015)

  1. Dai Woosnam says:

    Very sad news.
    But I will not just do the usual RIP message here, Paul.
    For my personal recollection is I think worth noting.
    First though, let me say that I saw every home game Tony played (and some away) …and as a player, he was so very promising.
    Okay, so he did not have the lethal shot that we became used to in our left wingers like Peter Hooper and (before him) Johnny Watkins, but he was an outstanding crosser of a ball. And had a sufficient turn of speed to be able to take the ball to the byline …ah, if only we had him now, eh?
    And I remember one game when I was on my favourite “crush barrier bar” vantage point, on the halfway line, a third of the way up the Bob Bank, with my mate Howard Jones from Porth, and the opposing right back thumped a clearance right in front of us, and Tony got the ball flush in the face. And remember, these were still proper lace-up footballs, not the semi-beachballs we play with now. When they were wet, they resembled medicine balls in their solidity.
    Tony fell to the turf like a sack of spuds. And crashed his head on the ground. He was out cold.
    Players frantically signalled for help…and the club doctor even came on to make sure his airway was clear. It was nailbiting time for us fans.
    The St John’s Ambulance stetcher-bearers took him off.
    And then…
    …before many months passed, we learned he had TB.
    I found out that he was in a TB hospital in Cimla, up above Neath town.
    So – 13/14 year old me – got a spare piece of wallpaper, and on the back of it, wrote a gigantic questionnaire. Typical questions for a kid of my age who was a besotted City fan.
    What is your favourite song/film/book/holiday resort?
    Who is your favourite player?
    Who has been your toughest opponent?
    And I seem to recall…about (wait for it…)
    An incredible 75 such questions on those lines. (Hence needing the wallpaper!)
    And of course…a “get well soon” entreaty.
    And enclosed a SAE for a reply.
    And guess what?
    There is this brave chap fighting TB…
    …yet he had the natural grace to thank me for my large piece of wallpaper, and answered all my questions …which he then went on to thrill me by saying he had found very entertaining.
    I showed his answers to all my mates in Porth. They too were delighted that a City “star” would go the extra mile, like that.
    I wonder where that wallpaper is now? I certainly would not have thrown it away. Maybe it is up in my loft somewhere…but things are chaotic up there, and alas I am too infirm and morbidly obese to negotiate the 3 feet high shallow loft.
    My guess is though that it went with my massive collection of football memorabilia, programmes, books, magazines, etc…which I gave away (ouch!) when I was about 28.
    Anyway, Tony Pickrell…I salute your memory. You made a kid like me very happy. A kid who was a total stranger to you.
    Around the same time, I wrote to the now alas also “late” Phil Woosnam. I enclosed an SAE with that letter too.
    I am still waiting for that reply…some 54 years later!
    Despite the fact that Phil’s great-grandfather and mine, were – back in Caersws – two (of four) BROTHERS.
    That speaks VOLUMES for the fundamental decency of Tony.
    Dai Woosnam
    Grimsby, UK.

  2. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you very much for such a great tribute Dai – I’ve e-mailed it on to Adrian to show Tony’s family just in case he didn’t see it on here.

  3. russell says:

    Yes lovely post Dai ,both my parents had TB ,used to claim a lot years ago,I’m sure Tony’s family will feel some solace from reading Paul’s and Dai’s thoughts and memories.

  4. Ols says:

    Let’s hope the club do the right thing before or at half time at the Boro game.

  5. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks to you and Russell for your replies Ols – you may be interested to read a message I’ve just received about Dai’s tribute from Adrian Pickrell:

    “Morning Paul, Morning Dai.

    you certainly are not bothering me (we are 1 hour ahead of you remember J)

    That is truly wonderful of Dai to write such a tribute… and what a memory he has. Dad told me about being knocked out and being told that he was stretchered off (he obviously cannot remember being stretchered off because he was KO)… and in the days before substitutes he was eventually allowed back on. He was seeing double and played the rest of the game with one eye closed to enable him to see only one ball instead of two. After the game he was treated for concussion.

    Cimla Hospital is quite correct. Dad received a lot of letters and presents from young City fans and he was very touched by it all but…if I really go back in my memory …he did once mention to me that some nice lad actually sent him a piece of wallpaper with a questionnaire which he was delighted about. Amazing now to hear that it was Dai! How wonderful this internet is, that now people from all over the place can exchange stories like this. Lately, an Aston Villa fan named Terry found a large A3 cartoon of Dad in City kit in his own Dad’s loft. Dated 1962 and kindly sent it to me. Incredible.

    I would like to pass Dai’s comment on to my mother. She will be touched and thrilled at yours and Dai’s kindness.

    Thank you both ever so much.

    My very best regards


  6. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear Adrian (and Paul and Russell),
    I am so touched that you found my words to be so relevant.
    I just simply related the facts. And remembered the really salient fact that Tony Pickrell could go to such trouble to make a fan like me so happy, yet my own second cousin, a Welsh international (who I also had never met), had not bothered to reply to my letter.
    Thanks Adrian for reminding me that Tony eventually came back on the pitch that day that we all had our hearts in our mouths. Amazing. It would never be allowed now. He would have been deemed to have been concussed, and these days would have been sent to the UHW for a scan.
    After all, he was only about 5 or 6 yards away from the opposition full back, who had thumped that ball with colossal force straight into his face.
    But as that novelist famously said “the past is a foreign country: they did things differently there”*. And as Adrian says, the key here is that it was in the days before substitutions. After all, only 5 or 6 years before, because no replacement keeper could come on, Bert Trautmann played on at Wembley with a broken NECK.
    (Hard to believe now…these days when players will not play with so much as a STIFF neck!)
    Loved Adrian relating Tony’s anecdote of playing on with one eye closed! Priceless.
    As was my bedroom wall in my boyhood home at 110 Birchgrove Street, Porth, Rhondda, where we hid the small section where the new wallpaper had run out, with a bedside table!**

    * too tired at nearly four in the morning to google (***) L.P. Hartley’s exact words.

    ** apols for that bit of whimsy on my part. I could not resist the joke! (It goes without saying, that the wallpaper I used was from an offcut!).

    *** deliberate use of lower case!
    Dai Woosnam.

  7. Dai Woosnam says:

    Just had a thought…if two great grandfathers are brothers, does that not make the late Phil Woosnam my THIRD cousin…and not “second”?
    Apols if I am thought to be claiming too close a kinship here! But genealogy was never quite my bag.
    A fat lot of good my blood ties did me anyway. Ha!
    BTW…a third of those 4 brothers in Caersws, was to become the great-GREAT-grandfather of the golfer. So that makes Ian my third cousin “once removed” (as the genealogists say).
    Thank God I never had a gift for golf. If I had become famous, I would have insisted that Peter Alliss* pronounced my surname properly the Welsh way, and not the Chinese “Fu Manchu” way.

    * Or…as I call him …Peter ELL-is ! Ha.

    But enough of this levity.
    It is a sad time.
    A very decent man has left us…and the world is that much the poorer.

Comments are closed.