Skipper - who led one of town’s best ever boys teams - has died days before his 80th birthday

Action from the West Boys match with Chesterfield in 1953.
Action from the West Boys match with Chesterfield in 1953.

He was a talented footballer, Blitz survivor and a natural leader.

West Hartlepool-born Eric Musgrave passed away just days before his 80th birthday. His son Robert hopes to find people who may have known Eric and may want to contribute to a book of remembrance.

A young Eric Musgrave in his days as a talented footballer.

A young Eric Musgrave in his days as a talented footballer.

Eric was captain of the 1953 West Boys team which reached the English Schools Shield football competition quarter finals and took on Chesterfield at Victoria Park in front of 14,000 fans.

West came close to a memorable victory. Eric, in a Hartlepool Mail interview, said in 2012: “The crowd was amazing and I’ll never forget it.”

The match went to a replay which Chesterfield won.

Eric remembered: “The return match, the travelling and the hotel”. All amazing.

He loved his wife and family with his entire being. Even though he travelled the world, worked across borders and spent time at RAF camps around the world, he always wanted to return home, love his wife and play with his children, and grandchildren.

Robert Musgrave

Son Robert shared more details about his dad who went to Oxford Street Infants School, where he and his family survived a direct hit during the Blitz. Then came St Aidan’s junior school, where he “really started to shine on the football pitch.

“Being multi-talented, at 15 he was offered a specialist scholarship at Hartlepool Commercial Technical College. He represented his school and county at football, rugby and cricket.”

After school, he worked at Cameron’s brewery in clerical work, then had a spell labouring at a local steel works before joining the RAF for 3 years national service.

In 1962, said Robert: “Dad met mum at NAAFI dance at Kirton-in-Lindsey, where mum was based, and dad had gone for a course.”

Eric had a successful career in the RAF.

Eric had a successful career in the RAF.

That August, they were married.

Children followed and Eric continued in the RAF where he excelled at football and boxing, before becoming RAF Referee of the Year 1973.

He retired from the RAF in 1989 and on two occasions, worked for Chief of Defence Staff at MOD Whitehall, once as Chief Superintending Clerk to the Minister of Defence, and also during Falklands Conflict as Chief Administrator, Defence Intelligence Centre.

He loved Elvis, rock ‘n’ roll, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. His heroes were Cassius Clay, Henry Cooper, and footballers Milburn and Mortensen. Ultimately, he was a caring, loving, easy-going, fair man who “nurtured his family, as he did his families within the RAF as families’ officer,” said Robert.

Eric Musgrave in his younger days.

Eric Musgrave in his younger days.

His funeral is at 12.30pm on Tuesday, September 18, at St Mary’s Church, Watton, Norfolk. To share your own memories of Eric, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk. We will pass them on to his family.

Eric combined a skill for boxing with his love for football.

Eric combined a skill for boxing with his love for football.