Les relives war years as a pro-footballer

Les Stancer and Les Gadd with the history book on Notts County FC. EMN-190209-161637001
Les Stancer and Les Gadd with the history book on Notts County FC. EMN-190209-161637001

A special visitor brought back happy memories for a resident of a Sleaford care home who was a professional footballer during the war years.

Les Stancer is an ex-publican from Grantham now living at Ashdene Care Home.

Home manager Jilly Hunt explained that Les “comes alive” when he remembers his days as a player with the oldest league side, Notts County. She contacted the club, who agreed to update their records when they realised he had been missed off their list of former players. He had played 19 times for the first team.

She said: “They sent back a nice email, so I laminated it and gave it to Les.”

Mr Stancer is now officially the oldest surviving former player for the club.

He was then visited last Thursday by Les Bradd, an ambassador for Notts County and former player who holds the record for most goals scored for the club. He presented the 94-year-old with a book on the history of the club with lots of statistics about former players such as himself and the matches played.

Mr Stancer recalls: “I had been working as an apprentice diesel fitter and playing for St John’s at Grantham when a friend, Tommy Laughton, talked me into joining Notts County as he thought I was too good for the amateur leagues.”

Due to restrictions on travel because of fuel rationing, teams around the country were put together in regional leagues and Notts County faced such sides as Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Leicester City in front of crowds of 7,000-plus.

Mr Stancer said he earned a few hundred pounds for going professional and he admits he enjoyed his new celebrity status with the women.

He was later called up for national service and played for the Army.

He later played as an amateur for Grantham Town while running the Cherry Tree pub.

As an ambassador Mr Gadd meets with former players and organises a reunion golf day and dinner, celebrates events in the club’s history and makes presentations.