February 9 2018: confessions of a milkman

Bryan Conlon was a centre forward of the sort once known as bustling. Shildon lad, once on Newcastle’s books, he made his debut for Darlington Reserves in the name of an amateur footballer from RAF Middleton St George because Quakers had missed the registration deadline.

A couple of years later he was married in Shildon at 12 and played in the home game against Bradford City at 3 15. The Quakers always kicked off at 3 15 – they and Newport County, memory suggests – apparently because it gave more time for the pubs to turn out.

Bryan played subsequently for Millwall, Norwich City, Bradford City and Hartlepool and on the first day of 1974-75 – when the risible “amateur”status had finally been abolished – made his Shildon debut alongside fellow former Quakers Lance Robson and John Peverell.

The headline in the 1974-75 chapter of the Northern League’s millennium history was Pro’s and Conlon.

Lovely lad, good mate, Bryan was also a bit of a scallywag. In summer in the 60s he’d also work for the council – and that’s how our paths first crossed.

I was a pre-school milkman, up at 6am seven days a week to ensure that the good folk of the Jubilee Fields estate were never without their pinta. Lotta bottle? Even in the Arctic winter of 1963, I never missed a shift, and all for half-a-dollar a day.

The header’s probably misleading: little to confess, though the lady – wife of a very well known Northern League footballer – who’d periodically come to the doo rin what apparently was called a baby doll nightie was, shall we say, a bit of an eye-opener.

Then there was Mr Conlon. The round occasionally involved leaving the wooden cart and heading off with a hand crate. Sometimes upon returning there’d be a pint missing and a big bloke with a refreshed expression sitting on a wall nearby.

On bad days he’d utterly deny it, on good uns offer a second-hand Daily Mirror in part exchange. Top bloke, Bryan died in October 2000, aged just 57.

Back in the 1960s, says a piece in today’s Daily Mail, 99 per cent of British homes had a daily milk delivery – in glass bottles. Now, because of the plastic backlash, the milkman may (!) be making a comeback.

The Mail talks to a milkie who was made MBE for services to the community (“which he collected from the Queen dressed as a Friesian cow.”)

Why Her Majesty should have been dressed as a Friesian cow isn’t explained. When I got mine, she was definitely wearing a frock.

 

 

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