Steve Bloomer was an England international footballer who became Derby County Football Club’s all time record goal scorer. Although not born in Derby, he was raised in a inner city suburb called Pear Tree where he would develop his footballing abilities and go on to become one of the greatest players the game has ever produced.
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree is essentially a story about my father’s suicide. In a series of moments in my life I reconnect with Steve Bloomer, a ghostly pale face from the past, who then takes me on a journey of regeneration and discovery. Thus allowing me to eventually come to terms with my father’s death and in the process kick off my quest for happiness. Told in a non-linear time format I take the reader through a journey in time. Recounting how my father, myself and Steve Bloomer all grew up in Pear Tree, Derby and what then became of all our lives.
MF&TLLoPT is essentially a story about my father’s suicide and how a reconnection with a ghostly pale face from the past takes me on a journey of regeneration and discovery. Thus allowing me to eventually come to terms with my father’s death and in the process kick off my quest for happiness.
The story is told in two parts over the two years I worked as a teacher of Science at John Port School in Etwall, Derbyshire. Beginning with the death of my father in March 2006 to the birth of my daughter Layla in October 2008, and then ultimately the unveiling of the Steve Bloomer bust at Pride Park in 2009. During the progression of my story a series of flashbacks take me back to happier times as well as the more recent darker days leading up to and after my father’s death. Told in a non-linear time format I take the reader through a journey of how my father and I both grew up in Pear Tree, Derby. Halfway into Part One I reveal a memory about a legendary Derby County & England Football player who I had unexpectedly stumbled across in my childhood and who would never leave my thoughts.
It is Steve Bloomer who I reconnect with in Part Two after I leave my teaching job and look for a happier life. With time on my hands and a need to keep busy and distracted I decide to fervently buy up and read as many books about Derby as I can. Anything to somehow make connections back to my father, and look back into times in which I believe he would have been happier. I finally decide to read Peter J. Seddon’s Biography of Steve Bloomer, which had been consigned to my bookshelf, unread, for a year. As I begin reading the biography I realise that Steve Bloomer was a Pear Tree boy just like my father and myself. I become captivated and begin retracing Steve Bloomer’s steps up and down the streets of Pear Tree, where Bloomer, My father and myself had all been raised. It awakens my spirits. I’m reminded of the day I first came across Steve Bloomer and how sad I felt that he might have been forgotten in time. I also read the account of Steve Richards, Steve Bloomer’s grandson about how he was at his grandfather’s side on the day he passed away. Again it saddens me and I realise that I must reclaim Steve Bloomer’s legend for the people of Derby, as no good person should ever be forgotten in death. It is my way of remembering a good father: it is my way of remembering my own father. I contact the local newspaper, the Derby Evening Telegraph, and tell them that I have discovered the pub where Steve Bloomer passed away in 1938. I visit the Great Northern and have photos taken with the landlady who was also unaware of the connection. The story is then printed in the newspaper filling me with a great sense of pride and satisfaction. BBC Radio Derby then does a follow up interview with me at the pub. At this point Steve Richards writes to the landlady and thanks her and myself for remembering his grandfather. News has also travelled to family members still living in South Africa. Steve Richards also reveals that he would like to meet me. Hoping to somehow share my father’s story as well as that of the Legend of Steve Bloomer, I have an epiphany that feels like a regeneration (Doctor Who/Quantum Leap). I realise I can tell both their stories and also the story of Pear Tree, Derby and all it’s lost heroes and heroines.
A few weeks later Derby County reveal that they will erect a bust of Steve Bloomer in Pride Park. In the Derby Evening Telegraph the sculptor Andy Edwards asks Rams fans to come down and see him at work. I rush down to Pride Park and Andy and I immediately hit it off and become good friends. Helping Andy out with the research for the bust I also share with him my loss and my ideas for my own statue projects. He immediately realises how much Derby means to me and the pride I feel for my old neighbourhood and the city. One particular statue project I have in mind and discuss with Andy is of a Brian Clough AND Peter Taylor statue in Derby.
Our daughter Layla Anise Mohin Kaur Dhindsa is born a week or so after initially meeting Andy.
I attend the unveiling of the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham and feel gutted that Nottingham born, Peter Thomas Taylor was not also by Brian Clough’s side. Clough and Taylor were a partnership and they were a success together. It upsets me, just like I felt when I first came across Steve Bloomer’s plaque at the old Baseball Ground. Another father forgotten in time? Another man forgotten by his people? After initially having reservations about a Brian Clough and Peter Taylor statue I immediately change my mind. I ask Ashley Wilkinson, a Littleover schoolboy, who originally created the ‘Brian Clough Statue’ Petition to add Peter Taylor’s name too. He agrees that we should change it to Clough AND Taylor.
Steve Bloomer’s Bust is unveiled in Jan 2009. Andy allows me to put a little Pear logo under Steve Bloomer’s elbow. A reminder to everyone that he was raised in Pear Tree, Derby. I finally manage to meet Steve Bloomer’s grateful family and his two Grandsons, Steve Richards and Alan Quantrill, who both thank me for my contribution and efforts in keeping their grandfather’s memory alive.
The story finishes with the unveiling of the Steve Bloomer bust. However, in the epilogue I also reveal the unveiling of the Clough and Taylor statue too and all the other projects I have involved myself with off the back of Steve Bloomer. Including a Sikh Poppy Khanda I designed for the Royal British Legion to honour all the Sikhs who fought and sacrificed their lives to help the British Empire in their time of need during two World Wars. The Khanda is also my way of honouring Gian Singh VC who was a soldier from my Mother’s village in the Punjab. Like Steve Bloomer, Gian Singh also guided me through my dark days.
Our second child Raman Rohan Singh Dhindsa is born in November 2011.
I still have periods of darkness ranging from extreme lows to extreme highs. Until one day my dark days are finally put behind me after I read a newspaper article about the death of Robin Williams. I finally come to the realisation and understanding that my father took his life because he had a mental illness. It took nine years to fully accept this and in the end I am eternally grateful to Steve Bloomer and all my heroes[*] who kept me so distracted and busy so that I was unable to follow the same dark path that my father travelled. Even at my lowest points they were always there to remind me to keep ticking, to keep going, to keep fighting and most of all to never, never, never give up.
I owe them my life.
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree
Chapter 01 : D-Day
Chapter 02 : High Rising Spirits
Chapter 03 : The Gathering Storm
Chapter 04 : Catch – 51
Chapter 05 : Derby – England
Chapter 06 : Nawanshahr – Punjab
Chapter 07 : Steve Who? I & II
Chapter 08 : Into The Storm
Chapter 09 : The Silence
Chapter 10 : DeAD
Chapter 11 : Bury Your Head
Chapter 12 : Back To School
My Father & The Lost Legend of Pear Tree
Chapter 13 : Seconds
Chapter 14 : Operation DynaMO
Chapter 15 : Fields of Dreams
Chapter 16 : Destroying Angel
Chapter 17 : Good Old Derby
Chapter 18 : The Great Northern
Chapter 19 : Steve Bloomer’s Watching
Chapter 20 : Pear Tree Ram
Chapter 21 : Crossed Wires
Chapter 22 : For The Bairns
Chapter 23 : Stoked
Chapter 24 : Lost & Found
Chapter 25 : Epilogue
[*] Some of them who have a connection to Pear Tree, Derby.
Steve Bloomer – Gian Singh VC – Clough & Taylor – Dave Mackay – King of Rome/Charles Hudson/Dave Sudbury – Alice Wheeldon.