Chance meeting reunites football teammates

Former Sunderland Boys Under 16's players Billy Foster (left) and John Bambrough
Former Sunderland Boys Under 16's players Billy Foster (left) and John Bambrough

A CHANCE meeting on a bus brought two footballing pals together more than 50 years after they played alongside each other.

Billy Foster played inside right just behind centre forward John Bambrough, when Sunderland Boys Under 16s claimed a 2-1 victory to lift the Hartlepool’s Hospital Cup in 1961.

Sunderland Boys 1961, back row (left to right) Billy Todd, Jimmy Conroy, Douglas Lawrence, Jimmy Shoulders, John Hepple, Paddy Moran, Keith Stephenson (capt.) and Robert Allen. Front row (left to right) Douglas Kerr, Alan Purvis, John Bambrough, Billy Foster, Alan Coombes and Barry Lightfoot

Sunderland Boys 1961, back row (left to right) Billy Todd, Jimmy Conroy, Douglas Lawrence, Jimmy Shoulders, John Hepple, Paddy Moran, Keith Stephenson (capt.) and Robert Allen. Front row (left to right) Douglas Kerr, Alan Purvis, John Bambrough, Billy Foster, Alan Coombes and Barry Lightfoot

Billy scored the winning goal that day – but he didn’t know that a short trip on a single-decker a couple of months ago would take him on a journey into his footballing past.

As he boarded the bus he bumped into his teammate – who he hadn’t seen for more than 30 years.

Retired minister John Bambrough, now 65, had just returned back to the North-East a few months before after working across the UK and Ireland.

The pair recognised each other and rekindled their friendship.

Now they are hoping to trace the rest of the cup-winning team.

Married granddad-of-four Billy, 65, who lives in Seaham, said: “I recognised John immediately.

“It was only when we got talking that I realised it had been so long. They were great memories.”

Married dad-of-one John, added: “They were such good times. Winning that cup seems like yesterday and we were a good team.”

John, who now lives in Ryhope, Sunderland, added: “It would be amazing to get the lads together again for a team photograph and talk about those days.”

The pair have met up a number of times since and have been in touch with one other team member, Alan Purvis.

They believe some of the team to be in Hartlepool, with the rest scattered across the North-East and beyond.

They would love to hear from anyone who was on the team or their family members.

You can ring John on 07811 265850, or Billy on 07941588685.