When bad boys faced the boot from club

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“I CAME here hoping I would have no reason to throw any boy out,” warden Ben Walby told the Whitby Street club’s management committee.

“But so far I have chased about a dozen, including a gang who recently ran amok in the building, slashing doors and chalking on the walls.”

Mr Walby, 39, put forward a “policy statement” advocating a “quality not quantity” for club membership and warning he could dismiss 30 to 40 of the 130 existing club members.

The committee voted to give Mr Walby, who had been warden of the club for four months, a free hand for his “clean sweep” of disruptive elements.

He told the Mail: “I am very pleased about the mandate. It means I can do the sorting out I want to do without fear.”

In his paper to the committee Mr Walby conceded it was possible to dramatise the situation but insisted it was dangerous to minimise problems.

“A boys’ warden should surely be an idealist who nevertheless faces facts,” he said.

Mr Walby added: “I have been told that it is perfectly natural for two boys to knock the daylights out of each other anywhere in the club – man must fight.”

But he insisted this was perversion of the truth: “A vulgar brawl of one kind is only a short step to a vulgar brawl of another and more serious type.”

He said the club would take no account of class, religion, dress, reputation or home background but bullying would not be tolerated, as one bully could lose the club ten other members.

Mr Walby admitted his hardline approach wasn’t approved by everyone: “One of my assistants spent an hour almost pleading with me to compromise, to let things slide, to blink a little, not to moralise so much.”

But Mr Walby insisted there was “an order and purpose in life” and the aim of the club was “to help, encourage and direct a boy onto a daily task that will satisfy his main impulses”.

He concluded: “Time will tell whether I am doing the right thing.”

Were you a member of the Boys’ Welfare Club at the time? What are your memories of Mr Walby and his methods?

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@northeast-press.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.