Football in the Park
Ken Prior found the following notes from Southampton Town Council minutes, courtesy of Southampton City Archives:
On 23rd July 1920 a letter from Shirley Workmen’s FC was received, requesting permission to continue playing on Shirley Rec [as St.James’ Park was then known]; also a letter from the Old Comrades Association for the Church Lads Brigade, applying to play on Saturday afternoons. There was also an application from appeared to be The Maypole FC for use of the ground on a Wednesday afternoon.
The Old Comrades Association, for the Church Lads Brigade, applied again in 1921. In 1924 when Shirley Workmen’s FC applied for permission again, the council response changed to “the committee cannot guarantee any club the exclusive use of the ground”. In 1925 their request was turned down with that reason.
For those who’d like to read more, there’s an article by John Guillmant about the Church Lads Brigade on page 57 of “Shirley from Domesday to D Day”. It doesn’t mention the football, but it does mention that the Church Lads Brigade became a boys club in 1935 – one of the city’s earliest youth centres – led by Colonel Ashby, who was awarded a CBE for his work on behalf of the youth of Southampton. This was also the origins of the Ashby Centre in Stratton Road, very near St.James’ Park.