A number of the Geezers have happy memories of playing sport at Eton Manor – the sporting facilities which had been generously funded by Old Etonians at Hackney Wick.
Back in 1959 John Oates decided that twelve youngsters in the St Mary of Eton church youth club wasn’t good enough. He revamped the club, blagged an espresso machine, and persuaded Cliff Richard to come over and open the new teenagers’ club which he named after the year. 450 youngsters came on the opening night, the following week they brought their friends.
Last Saturday Canon John Oates visited his old church and I was able to speak with him and ask questions. He is seen next to Rev. Sue Makin, vicar of St Mary of Eton, in the centre of my photo. They are flanked by two of the first members of the youth club, who later married and still live nearby.
In 1962 Father Bill Shergold rode his motorbike to the Ace Caff on the North Circular and handed out flyers to invite a bunch of rockers to a church service at Hackney Wick. This idea was so mad that it actually worked. In a few years the 59 Club had thousands of members and the motorcycle section had to split off and meet elsewhere. The 59 Club is still going.