Why publishing Harlow stories for Harlow people is so important

History / Sun 30th Dec 2018 pm31 02:24pm

By Michael Casey

I try to keep opinion/personal pieces to a minimum. Infact, out of 3,197 stories published in 2018, I have only written four or five “editorial” pieces.

Local news is very important to me otherwise I wouldn’t have published over 46,000 stories on YourHarlow and YourThurrock combined over the last ten years.

Each day is an empty canvas and at the end of each day, you hope to have written the first draft of history. In short, as I have said elsewhere, I don’t claim to be shining lights on injustice etc. What I hope for is that in years to come, whether that is 2019, 2039 or 2119, our stories may be of some use to a person try to find out a little bit more about Harlow.

The reality is that over 350 printed and on-line newspapers have disappeared across the country. A local newspaper can survive but in many ways just like vinyl records, in that they can survive as a niche market.

Local news is still very important, From the jumble sale in Old Harlow to a visit by a prime minister but sometimes something personal happens to remind you of both its historical and personal importance.

In October, my brother, Gerard died. He was 62 and he died of cancer in Co. Roscommon, Ireland. It was very sudden and very shocking. Part of the grieving process is to look back on this memories, those shared remembrances.

One of those memories was that my brother’s primary school football team, Holy Cross won the Harlow Primary Schools Cup in 1967. When your brother is six years older than you then you look up to him and his team mates as legends.

An added anecdote was that Holy Cross beat St Albans in the semi finals. St Albans had a player called, Glenn Hoddle. My brother (according to my brother), “marked Hoddle out of the game” and “Hoddle was never the same player after that”. Yes, I know, I know.

In November, I was driving home, when I decided to drop in on Harlow Museum. I found the March copy of the Harlow Citizen and found the match report of Holy Cross 4 v 1 Potter Street with a photo of the winners beside it.

I took a photo and put it up as news items on our sports page as a small but fitting tribute to a team that many many years ago, I thought were gods. This was doubly re-inforced by the fact that I played for Holy Cross in the 1973 semi finals and we were crushed 8-2 by Jerounds but I am over it now (honest).

I put the story up on my personal Facebook page and tagged my friend Cara Sheridan, Cara’s dad, Eddie played in the same winning team (Eddie passed away in 2005). I told Cara about the Glenn Hoddle comment. She replied: “Funny, that is what my dad used to say!!”

A day later, the story was tagged to a man who lives in Saffron Walden. It appears he played for Potter Street and he was at pain to point out that Potter Street had beaten all before them and just had an off day that day! He clearly still bears the scars!

The point is that we would not have been able to share that poignant memory without that clipping from the Harlow Citizen in March 1967. My point today, in December 2018, is that those stories are still out there and it is vital that they continue to be curated so that in years to come we can look back on those events.

Whether it is jumble sales, church notices, sports reports, planning meetings, births, deaths, marriages, elections, crimes, missing cats or theatre, we want to know about them, so that we can document them for now and for ever.

We published 3,197 stories on YourHarlow in 2018. Seven hundred more than in 2017 and we invite every organisation to tell us what they are doing. I left Harlow in 1981 clutching my three A-levels to go off and study History at the University of Stirling. I came back to Harlow over 25 years later and a few years after that launched YourHarlow.Com.

I want to continue to build a living, breathing archive of life in Harlow for many many years to come. Perhaps one day, I will have a word with Glenn Hoddle about that semi-final.

Happy New Year.

Michael Casey
Brother of Gerard Casey: 1955-2018

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