Wednesday 27 March 2013

BBBC Inspector Arthur Musson Saves the Show

I have in my collection a number of items of correspondence relating to a boxing tournament which was held at the Kings Hall, Derby on 11 December 1950. The show was held under the jurisdiction of Central Area Council (Area No 5) of the British Boxing Board of Control. The North Midlands and West Midlands Councils had been abolished in 1947 when the Central Area was formed and this reorganisation had not been popular with the officials in the Midlands and there were clearly one or two teething troubles including events at this show. 

Some short time later the Midlands Area Council (Area No 8) was formed and it took part of the Central Area with it, including Derbyshire. This Council became a very well organised and successful organisation and the sport in the Midlands prospered under its control during the 1950s. This was due, in no small part, to the both the efficiency and the skill of its secretary, Mr G. Arthur Musson.

Musson lived in the village of Kilburn, just outside Derby, and for many years he was the landlord at the Rose and Crown in nearby Draycott. As well as being Midlands Area secretary Musson was also a licensed Board of Control inspector and he also dabbled in the training and, I believe, the management of boxers. He knew the game well and if not always popular with the managers, boxers and promoters with whom he had to deal he was well-respected and highly thought of.

On the night of the show at Derby, Mussen was attending informally, probably as a spectator. However, due to an administrative cock-up no referee had been appointed for the show. The promoter, Jerry Shaw, was not impressed! This is Mussen's formal inspector's report, which he provided to the BBBC Head Office four days later:

"Enclosed herewith please find Result Card and improvised score sheets used for the tournament at King's Hall, Derby on 11th December 1950 (commence 7.30 pm). No referee or for that matter Inspector was appointed for the tournament by the Area Council, consequently it fell to me to make the necessary arrangements. 

I arrived at the Kings Hall at approximately 6.30pm and at about 7.15pm was informed by the promoter that the referee had not yet arrived and that he had not been informed by the Area Council who the referee would be and at the same time he asked me whether I could give him any information on the matter. I told him that I did not receive such information and consequently could not help him in his enquiry but requested that I should be advised immediately the referee did arrive. 

At 7.40pm, whilst I was in conversation with the doctor in attendance I was again approached by the promoter who was accompanied by the whip and was told that the referee had not yet arrived and that the crowd was becoming irritable. I then phoned Miss Mooney and asked for information regarding the referee appointed for this tournament and was informed that owing to an oversight no such appointment had been made. 

As Stan Hiles was already fulfilling an appointment and Joe Smythe was in Ireland it was agreed that the matter should be left in my hands and that I should referee. However, in order that I could complete arrangements with the doctor and other duties in the dressing rooms I asked Inspector Eric Dolby to referee the first contest which was over four rounds. This he did and I refereed the remainder of the programme. 

Under the rush circumstances it was not possible to comply with requirements regarding dress whilst officiating. Trusting you are in agreement with the course I took. Miss Mooney was the secretary of the Central Area Council and, given that she had a large and very busy area to administer, it was inevitable that the odd problem would arise here and there but not appointing a referee for a tournament was quite a grave matter." 

Teddy Waltham, General Secretary of the Board of Control, wrote back to Mussen on 20th December, stating that: "The course you adopted in what might have been an extremely embarrassing situation was most commendable and you are to be complemented on your action."

The promoter, Jerry Shaw, had himself written to Waltham on December 13th: "I have a serious complaint to make, viz: that on the occasion of the above tournament no referee appeared, and I had no alternative, after delaying the start but to request Eric Dolby, an Inspector, to officiate for the first contest. The other inspector, Arthur Musson, who was busy in the dressing rooms, then took over and refereed the remaining contests. This incident has left a very bad impression in the minds of my patrons who are of the opinion that Derby is being ostracised by the "powers that be". Since the new area took over, I have never known who my referee was to be until he walked into the Hall just prior to the opening of the show. The Inspector telephoned Miss Mooney at 7.45pm (the tournament was scheduled to start at 7.30pm) and she said she had entirely forgotten the tournament!"

In writing to Miss Mooney, when presenting the inspectors report to the Central Area, Musson stated that "The tournament was a dismal failure as far as support was concerned and the promoter must have suffered a substantial financial loss". No doubt this contributed to Promoter Shaw's mood! On the night, the topliner ended in the eighth and final round when Billy Dean of Greenwich knocked out Ernie Comley of Oldbury with a left hook.

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