Heats Event Picture

In Memory of Wilf Mannion

As everyone on Teesside knows, and anyone who knows anything about the history of football, Wilf Mannion was one of the finest footballers ever. Wilf was in the same league as Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Tom Finney, Duncan Edwards, Ferenc Puskas, Bobby Moore, Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney - in other words up there with the best. Born in South Bank, Middlesbrough on 16th May 1918, Wilf played junior football for local team South Bank St Peters from where he was signed by Middlesbrough FC. He made his Middlesbrough debut on 2nd January 1937, aged 18 and established himself as a first team regular playing for Middlesbrough in 368 league and cup matches, scoring 110 goals.

wilfred manion

World War Two robbed Wilf of his career by nearly seven years - he joined the green Howards in 1940, returning to play for 'Boro' at the end of the war. On 28th September 1946 he made his England debut in the 7-2 win over Northen Ireland scoring a hat-trick.

In the soccer world Wilf Mannion, stood out from the rest to become a legend in his own lifetime. Middlesbrough's most gifted player of all time has a special place in English international footballing history. Wilf was a skilful ball-playing genius who possessed a classic body swerve and dribbling talent held by few others. He had a wonderfully natural footballing brain and could split a defence in two with a single pass. His great positional sense was second to none and he was always on the look out to score himself (he wasn't bad either looking at his strike rate [and that as an inside forward!]).

He was capped 26 times for England between 1946 - 51, playing in the 'Match of the Century' - Great Britain against the rest of the world - where he produced a 'man of the match' performance scoring 2 goals in a great 6-1 victory

His distinguished career came to an end in 1954 when he retired from the game.

He was a warm, friendly, kind, gentle and good family man.

I recall at a testimonial dinner for Middlesbrough's retiring full-back Chris Morris, Tommy Docherty (who was the guest speaker) asked Wilf to stand up before he started his talk. Tommy said of Wilf that he was one of the greatest footballers of all time and that he (Tommy) always tried to crock him whenever they played against each other, but never succeeded. Wilf, with a similar smile on his face to Tommy's replied "that was because I anticipated the tackle coming in and rode them Tom!" A lovely gesture by 'The Doc' and needless to say, Wilf was given a standing ovation.

wilfred manion

Everyone who knew Wilf knew he was a quiet, unassuming man who off-pitch shunned the limelight. However, not many people know how much 'The Golden Boy' did for charity in his latter years. He and his companion/manager, Albert Lannie, never refused an invitation to attend any function and, of course, their presence enhanced any event, whether they were fund raising, personal appearances or school presentations.

It was no surprise that he was held in high esteem by even the young people on Teesside. They would always show him respect and often have long conversations with Wilf, even though they never saw him play. Wilf 'The Golden Boy' was loved and revered by everyone, young and old.

I remember at the 'Boro' v Chelsea F.A.Cup Final of 1997 approaching the stadium, walking along Wembley Way and being intrigued by a crowd that had formed by the side of the road. It was Wilf and his buddy, Albert, talking to young fans. However, they weren't 'Boro' fans but Chelsea supporters having good banter with a 'living legend'. Just proving the love and affection all fans had for Wilf.

We are proud and honoured to announce that at the end of each academic year HEATS is to offer local schools and youth/sports clubs The Wilf Mannion Achievement Award for outstanding performance.

Lawrie Coulthard

The Robert Brownless Award

Robert Brownless

The late Robert Brownless, a brave young man.

Robert Brownless, a young Traveller, who lived on a Middlesbrough caravan site with his family, was aged seven when his first brain tumour was discovered.

He received treatment over a number of years but neither let his condition interfere with his unbelievably happy persona for his positive attitude on his future. He also thoroughly enjoyed attending Ormesby Secondary School. Towards the end, when aged 15, his eyesight became affected by a further tumour growth, Robert persevered with his studies although he was very poorly his eyesight had deteriorated significantly and his body was reacting badly to the daily treatment. So much so, that he had to reduce his attendance at school to 3 hours, but always brought his laptop home with him so that he could continue with his studies.

Heats learned of Robert's condition and how he was coping bravely and we contacted Middlesbrough Football club who immediately arranged a tour of their training ground for him. Heats picked him and his brother up in a stretch Limousine and took him to the ground, where he was introduced to the players and given a tour of the training facilities. He was absolutely thrilled by it all. Robert thanked us profusely when we dropped him and his brother off with the promise of writing to us about his experience. He was certainly true to his word.

Sadly, Robert passed away shortly afterwards, a young Traveller who was a credit to his family and his community.

Bridging the Generational Divide

Local young people helped to cook and serve a Christmas Lunch followed by games of bingo, a quiz and raffle for senior citizens in North Ormesby, Middlesbrough. The seniors thoroughly enjoyed the event and had their photos taken with Father Christmas. It was a testament to the young peoples' attitude, resolve and desire to provide the seniors with a day to remember, that the event was a tremendous success. Everyone enjoyed themselves, not least the local seniors. It was a delight to see the different generations interacting and enjoying the occasion.

Quotes from some of the senior citizens:

"It was wonderful to see the young people providing us with a thoroughly enjoyable day. They were all great."

"I thought the youngsters did a smashing job. We all had a really good time. It's not often you hear about young people doing nice things. This just goes to show that youngsters and the elderly can get on very well together - thanks to HEATS for making this occasion possible."

"HEATS would like to thank the staff at North Ormesby Community Centre for the venue and their support. Also North Ormesby Community Charity Shop for funding the event."