Morley & District Family History Group
Mr. Reginald "Reg." Elvy
...........the professional footballer, was without doubt the most famous Churwell born sportsman of the 20th century.
Born in the village in November 1921, to a well known Churwell family, he was the son of Reginald Hatfield Elvy and Polly (nee Idle). He was educated at Churwell village school and when playing football as a boy it was always recognised by his pals that he would be the one in goal. The boys would often use the Churwell Park gates for their goal and Reg. would have to be the custodian of an area the width of the road, perhaps that early experience stood him in good stead when he came to defend a real goal mouth.
When he left school Reg. worked as a cabinet maker for Mr. Joe Harrison of Back Green, Churwell. On 22nd March 1941 he was married at the Primitive Methodist Church , by the Rev. A. Wilcock, to Nellie, the only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. J. Haigh of Stairfoot, Barnsley . In June 1941 he joined the Royal Air Force.
Whilst playing football during his R.A.F. service Reg's prowess in goal was noticed by the Station Officer who recommended him to his father, Mr. Thompson, the manager of Halifax Town A.F.C.. Mr. James H. Thompson was the manager of Halifax from 1936 and previous to that appointment he had been a player for Hearts, Leith Athletic, Bury and Coventry City also the secretary/manager for Bury and Swansea Town so he was a man who could recognise the potential of a good footballer when he saw one. Reg was accepted by Halifax and he played for them, when he was available, in the war time regional games. This arrangement came to an end when he was posted to Egypt and the Middle East where he served from 1944 to 1946.
After the cease of hostilities Reg. was demobbed and Mr. Thompson welcomed him back to Halifax Town where he became the first choice goal keeper. At the end of the season it was reported "1946/47 saw the return to League football after the regional war time games and available for selection was goal keeper Reg. Elvy who has done such a good job as custodian whilst still in the R.A.F." Reg. made 22 appearances for Halifax before being transferred to Bolton Wanderers in March 1947. This event was reported in Halifax as follows:-
"Shortly before the season (1946/47) closed there was a major transfer from the Shay when Reg. Elvy left for Bolton Wanderers. It was inevitable that Elvy should move to a higher grade of football for he had been the undoubted star of the Town team throughout the season and had produced some tremendous displays, even in defeat. The Shay club received a useful fee from this transaction and, though a player of his calibre would be missed, this, along with the knowledge that Ted Raynor, a most competent replacement, was waiting in the wings of reserve football, made the transfer slightly more palatable."
When he arrived at Burnden Park Reg. found himself playing with the elite of English footballers, including the likes of English international Nat. Lofthouse, at a long established club in the First Division, the equivalent of today's Premiership.
Reg. Elvy's skill and agility had been noticed by the Bolton club and it had been decided to sign him as an understudy to the regular goalkeeper Stan Hanson. He made his debut for the club in December 1947 for one game away at Stoke, but he got his real opportunity in October 1948 after the Bolton defence had conceded five goals in consecutive weeks. He then became the regular custodian for the remainder of the season and he began the 1949/50 season as the club's first choice but after three games Stan Hanson reclaimed his spot. Reg's last game for the "Trotters" was against Burnley in the August of 1949. He made 31 first team appearances for Bolton Wanderers.
In the November of 1951 he was signed by Blackburn Rovers and had a distinguished career at Ewood Park , making 192 First Division appearances.
In July 1956 he joined Northampton Town and he ended his League career there in 1958, at the age of 37, after playing 67 League games for the "Cobblers".
When his football days were over Mr. Elvy and his family stayed in Northampton where he made himself another successful career, this time in business management. He died in his adopted town on 13th July 1991 at the age of 70 years.
Mr. Elvy was a skilful player and a tall well built athlete, these attributes enabled him to succeed at the top levels of the sport in an era when goalkeepers were not protected by the stringent rules that apply in today's game.
The people of Churwell were proud of Reg. Elvy and on the rare occasion he made an appearance at Elland Road a large contingent of villagers would wend their way down Churwell hill to see him play and to wish him well.
information supplied by R Barraclough
© Carol Sklinar