Core blimey! It’s been a wonderful life for ex-Halifax Town forward John

John Core
John Core

John Core turned 90 on March 29, but age is just a number for the former Halifax Town inside forward.

Core made only 28 appearances for his hometown team between 1950 and 1951, but scored an impressive 18 goals.

John Core

John Core

That was after two years of National Service and studying Latin, German and Spanish at Leeds University.

Core combined his playing duties with flying Tiger Moth and Chipmunk planes as an RAF Reserve.

He also became close friends with former Labour politician Denis Healey and played for a West Riding football team alongside cricketer Brian Close

“We played three games over 10 days in Holland, and this lad would never shut up about cricket. He was a bloody nuisance, which I was too polite to say!

John Core

John Core

“Then when we came back he was playing cricket for England aged 18.”

But his other career as a salesman for Avery Scales soon overtook his football activities, and he eventually headed up Avery’s European business before ending up in Singapore as manager of South East Asia, where he stayed until retiring in 1984.

He has remained remarkably active later in life - running the Redcar half-marathon aged 82 - which he attributes to walking miles to school and music lessons as a child in Rishworth.

“When you meet people for the first time, they knock 10 years off your age,” he said. “People knock 20 off me. Nobody ever suggests I’m over 70.

“So I have great fun in saying ‘you’ll have to add a few!’

“I don’t know when it’ll end. I’ve had cancer of the colon for 20 years, which you learn to live with.

“I’m such an odd human being that the specialist has said ‘unless you feel it’s getting worse, I don’t want to see you again’.

“My mother lived to 95, that might have something to do with it.

“It’s difficult for me to behave as an elderly gentleman. I’m wondering what it’s going to be like when I’m old!

“I swim 20 lengths regularly, I walk up Rosebury Topping, a 1,000 feet mountain near where I live in the north east, once or twice a week.”

Core burst onto the scene with Halifax, netting four times in his first five games before eventually falling out of favour.

“One of the problems I had was the manager didn’t seem to want to train me as I wanted,” he said of ex-Halifax boss Jack Breedon.

“I felt they were behind with the training. I wished they’d concentrated on what I saw as training, whereas they wanted you to run, run, run, run, run. All the rest wasn’t very important.

“All the time I played football, I wasn’t good with my head. I don’t remember heading a goal. I might’ve done but I don’t remember it.

“I never thought I was the best player, but if the ball was in the penalty area and the opponents were very quick, then I had this facility for scoring goals.

“If you’re a local boy, you get tremendous pleasure from just walking to the ground, because everybody knows you.

“It was wonderful. So many professional footballers play for teams in other towns, but imagine what it’s like to play for your home-town team?

“As a young boy, it was felt I was a young footballer.

“I played for Halifax under 12s, and then when I was 16 Huddersfield, who were in the First Division, came in for me, but my father said I had to go to university.

“I used to play for Halifax on a Saturday, and get three pounds for it, and I also joined the RAF, going to Sherburn-in-Elmet every Sunday, learning to fly.

“Although I started with nothing, by the time I was 23 I felt I was getting on in the world, and that’s never really stopped.”

Core’s life took him to the other side of the world to West Yorkshire, but he still keeps an eye on The Shaymen’s progress.

“I love watching football today, because I can see the difference from when I played.

“We didn’t play like that, partly because of managers. Football’s a beautiful game.

“I have my iPad out for every Halifax match, and I follow every minute of it.

“I wish they were doing better.

“The stands (at The Shay) are wonderful. There was only one stand when I was there.

“The crowds were much better than they are today.

“I see that the crowds every week are a little over a thousand, but when I played it was four or five thousand.

“I’m angry that Halifax only get a thousand. Playing in-front of a thousand people can’t be very exciting.”

Core says he has no regrets about not making it as a professional footballer, and that his career with Avery gave him a life that football never could have.

“I was the shyest man in Rishworth, but I flourished, and every couple of years they promoted me and let me live all over the world, in Europe, Singapore, flying all over south-east Asia.

“Can you imagine what it was like for this little boy from the hills?

“What a wonderful privilege. And then at 55 I retired on a full pension.

“I’ve had a ball. I’m on my fifth wife, I have six children.

“I’ve had a fantastic life. I’ve been so blessed. I couldn’t have written a better life story.”