Belfast Telegraph

Back Then: Why milkmen still have a lotta bottle

Numbers may have fallen but deliverymen continue to do the rounds

By Ivan Little

Where have all the milkmen gone? No, it's not a song. It's a genuine question about what seems to be the disappearance of the old familiar floats and vans from our streets.

And it was prompted by the discovery of an old picture of a milkman online.

I still see the odd lorry but it's not like it was in my day when my brothers and I used to help our milkman father on his rounds from about 4.30am on school holidays all over east Belfast and up in the Craigantlet Hills.

Also last week I spotted an internet forum debate about milkmen in general and my late dad whose name was Billy was the focus of complimentary and moving comments.

Dad was an independent milkman though he got his supplies from Dobson's Diaries on Montgomery Road where we had to haul crate after crate of milk bottles off and onto to his VW van which had been specially adapted for the purpose.

I still treasure some of his delivery books in which he recorded in copperplate handwriting how many bottles of milk went where and how much his customers owed him.

Nowadays, because processing is so different and milk lasts longer, there's obviously not the same need to take fresh supplies to so many homes every day of the week.

And, of course, supermarkets aren't only handy places to stock up, they are also cheap.

But Dale Farm have told me there's still a vibrant delivery service in Northern Ireland.

They have around 100 milkmen and a number of other firms also offer their services round the doors.

If they're looking for helpers, I'm bottling out.


Halcyon summer days and chaos of those Hen Run kickabouts

George Best was a regular. As was every Belfast football fan worth his salt. For Wilgar Park the home of Dundela FC was the place to be back in the summers of the 50s and early 60s.

The ground off the Holywood Road was nicknamed the Hen Run but the footballers who played in the Clark Groves Cup rarely chickened out of a tackle.

The summer league was renowned for the no-holds-barred robustness of its players and the no-nonsense style of football they served up, some of it in the X-certificate category.

Teams from all over Belfast took part. Names I seem to recall were Brookville, Lagan Village, Westvale and Lomond Star.

In several books, George Best recalled going to the games with his father Dickie.

And no doubt like the rest of us he wasn’t just a spectator but also a participant in the half time kick-abouts.

As the players took a breather, a ball would be produced from somewhere and dozens of kids would descend on the pitch and play the most chaotic games ever seen.

Everyone ran after the ball, of course. It wasn’t so much 4-4-2 as 1-1-42.

Belfast Telegraph


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