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Alf Cook, a scrap metal merchant in the Midlands town of Bradstoke, was in his yard, which was situated between a railway yard and the gasworks, when he heard a rattling and clanking in the street. The noise struck him as familiar.

“It can’t be Bernard, surely,” he muttered. “He dumped his old bike in a quarry!” The noise became pronounced, and Bernard Briggs, who earned his living as a general dealer and kept goal as an amateur for Bradstoke Town, turned into the yard. He was in the saddle of an ancient belt-driven motor-cycle, and the side-car was an old bath. Bernard stopped his bike. “So you fished it out again,” said Cook. “Blooming Ada, it wasn’t half a job,” replied Bernard. “The water was deeper than I thought I could have done with a frogman’s hat.” Bernard had experienced a great deal of trouble with the machine, and, because everything had seemed set to get a new one, he had run it over the edge of a claypit to get rid of it. But things hadn’t turned out as expected, and at the last moment he hadn’t been able to find the cash to buy a new combination. So the old one had had to be retrieved from the pit. “I’m surprised you were able to mend it!” exclaimed Cook. Cook looked into the bath side-car. It contained a quantity of small scrap, most of it red with rust. “That looks poor stuff, Bernard,” he remarked. “Ay, it ain’t first class,” admitted Bernard, a frown on his rugged face. “I’ve done so much clearing up round here there ain’t much left. I reckon I’ll have to seek pastures new.” “Before you unload, there’s a bit of information you can give me,” said Cook. “What time will half-time be tomorrow?” Bernard gave Cook an astonished stare. The latter was an enthusiastic pigeon fancier. He had no time for football. Yet, Bradstoke Town Football Club, once regarded as the worst team in the North Section of the Third Division, had reached the Cup semi-finals, and on the following afternoon played Blacksea Rangers on the neutral ground of Aston Albion. That the town should have gone so far was because Bernard, often called Bouncing Briggs, by reason of his agility, had not given away a goal. In fact, never in his career, so far, had he done so! “Well, wonders will never cease, Alf!” Bernard exclaimed. “I never thought you’d get roused about football.” “I ain’t roused now,” retorted Cook. He drew a deep breath. “About a dozen members of our Pigeon Racing Club are going to the match,” he explained, “and they’ll take birds with them, see? The idea is to make a race of it. The pigeons will be released at half-time, and the first ‘un reaching its loft with the half-time score will win the race, the sweepstake and any side-bets.” A grin appeared on Bernard’s ugly face. “Now I get the notion!” he exclaimed. “The kick-off is at three o’clock and you should allow two or three minutes for stoppages,” Bernard said. “I should say the ref. Will blow his whistle about three forty-seven or forty-eight.” “Okay,” said Cook. “Which bird is the favourite?” asked Bernard. “One of mine, Cock-eye,” replied the fancier. “My son is going to the match and will release it. You’ll know the bird if you see it, because it has a white ring round one of its eyes.” I’ll look out for it, Alf,” said Bernard earnestly. Bernard unloaded the scrap, and, as it was a Friday, Cook settled with him for his recent deliveries. After leaving the yard, Bernard rode to the cooked meat shop of Syd Potter. The latter followed the Town through thick and thin. Syd had an early copy of the evening paper spread on the counter. “Blacksea have picked their team,” he said as Bernard shambled in. “There was some doubt as to whether their centre-forward, Templewaite, would be fit,” said Potter.

This last episode of:

Bouncing Briggs – Who lost only one goal

is taken from The Wizard #1673 - March 8th 1958

Bernard is goalkeeper for Bradstoke Town F.C.

“Is he?” asked Bernard casually. “Yes,” said Potter gloomily. “He’s the leading goalscorer in the First Division, Bernard.” Bernard shrugged his powerful shoulders. “I forgot to bring my pudding basin,” he said. The fact about Templewaite made no impression on him. “I’ll lend you one,” said Potter. “What shall I fill it with? Tripe and onions?” “No, I’ll take some of your faggots and peas,” said Bernard. Bernard put the pudding basin in the bath, securing it so that it would not tip over, and set off home. He lived three miles from Bradstoke at Slagley Station. The station stood on a branch line on which for years only an occasional goods train had been run. Bernard had bought the premises with money he had made hop-picking. He unlocked the door and shoved his bike into the former booking hall. A lump of plaster fell from the ceiling and hit him on the head. “Blooming Ada, I’m glad it copped me and not the basin!” muttered Bernard. He fetched the basin out of the bath and stuck his finger into the grub. “It ain’t as piping hot as I likes it,” he reflected. “Wish I’d had a fire on!” He heard a distant whistle and strode out on to the platform. A tank engine, puffing vigorously, came into sight from the direction of the junction. Bernard held up a hand and the driver shut off steam and brought the train to a stop. They were old acquaintances and pals. “Will you do me a favour, Edwin, and heat my supper up?” requested Bernard. “Ay,” replied the driver as Bernard passed up the pudding basin. “Cyril will warm it up for you on his shovel.” It was an old footplate dodge. Many a meal had been cooked on a fireman’s shovel. Cyril swilled the shovel with scalding water from the hose-pipe and wiped it with waste. Then he tipped Bernard’s faggots and peas into the shovel, opened the fire-hole, and held it over the flames. Bernard was surprised to see that instead of hauling empty wagons for Muckley Main Colliery, the engine had a train of trucks that were loaded with bricks. “Where are the bricks going?” he asked. “Haven’t you heard?” exclaimed the driver. “They’re going to build one of those New Towns out at Muckdown.” “No, Edwin, I hadn’t heard about it,” said Bernard. “Have they started?” “Ay, the bulldozers and scrapers are at work,” replied the driver. The fireman withdrew Bernard’s supper from the fire-hole. It was certainly piping hot. “Thanks,” said Bernard. “I like my faggots really hot.” He carried the basin into the station and went into the former waiting-room that he used as his living-room. As he put a foot down he felt the floor shake worse than usual and stepped back in the nick of time. With a series of thuds, a large section of the floor fell in. “Blooming Ada, I never knew the dry-rot was as bad as all that!” gasped Bernard.


It was about ten o’clock on the Saturday morning that Bernard brought his ancient motor-bike out, He intended to ride into Bradstoke and join the Town for the coach journey to the match.

Another train was coming along. Bernard shut the door with a slam, heard a clatter on the roof, and sprang out of the way as several slates slid over the eaves, dropped to the ground and smashed. He moved into the middle of the road and scowled at the hole in the roof. “Did I shake ‘em down or was it the train?” he muttered. “If you ask me, the blooming chimney doesn’t look too safe!” The hole was too big a job to be tackled then, but it did not look as if it were going to rain, and he got on the move. Bernard certainly had plenty on his mind. It was worrying to have a station falling down. He had always intended to sell it when he felt the urge to move on, but he could not do a deal with a place that was full of dry-rot, and had a hole in the roof. “Aw, forget it for a bit,” he advised himself. What Bernard liked about Cup-ties was the added zest and excitement. The fact that it was a semi-final that afternoon promised even greater keenness and thrills. The sound of Bernard’s approach was like music in the ears of Mr James Rosser, the Bradstoke Town chairman. The coach had arrived and was waiting in the enclosure behind the stand. “I’m glad you’re here in good time,” said Rosser after Bernard had parked his bike. “It’s always a busy road, and there’ll be a lot of extra traffic today. Over a hundred coaches are taking Bradstoke people to the match, and there are several excursion trains as well. “Well, I hope it’ll stay fine for them,” remarked Bernard. “I’m hoping that tonight our supporters will be booking their tickets for Wembley!” exclaimed Rosser. Bernard sniffed. “I don’t like Wembley,” he said. “The spectators are so far away you can’t hear what they’re saying or answer ‘em back!” Bernard had gained a cup medal previously in his career when playing for Darbury Rangers. It was a chapter of accidents involving the Bradstoke goalkeeper that had led to his playing for the Third Division team. One success had been achieved for the Town anyhow. The team had collected sufficient points to guarantee their finishing in the top half of the league table. Clubs in the bottom half were going into the impending Fourth Division. In the coach Bernard shared a front seat with Alec Anderson. Three or four miles after leaving Bradstoke the coach reached Muckdown and passed the fringe of the area where the new town was to be built. The ground was scarred with half-completed roads. It was criss-crossed with trenches. “I wouldn’t mind getting a bulldozing job, there Alec,” Bernard remarked. “Can you drive a bulldozer?” asked Alec. “No, but I’d soon learn,” said Bernard. “You’d be lucky,” put in Rosser, who was a builder’s merchant. “The contractor was telling me he had more than enough vehicle drivers. What he wants are men who can handle a pick and shovel. “It may come to that, then,” muttered Bernard. Rosser was very keen to get Bernard fixed up for next season. “You’ve only got to say the word and we’d put you on top wages,” he said temptingly. “You could have nearly four months holiday.” “Blooming Ada, I should be bored stiff,” growled Bernard. “How soon are we stopping for dinner?”


Bernard had just pulled his sweater over his head in the dressing-room when the door opened. Rosser came in and with him was Alderman Thropp, a distinguished-looking man who was a vice-president of the Football Association.

“Can you spare a minute?” the Alderman asked Bernard genially. “The Cup you found has been repaired and re-silvered and is on view in the Board Room and I’d like you to see it.” “Ay, I’ll come along, mister,” said Bernard. In 1895 the Football Association Cup had been stolen from a shop window in Birmingham. Bernard had found what was believed to be the Cup in a battered condition while he was working for a demolition firm. “We haven’t decided what to do with it yet,” stated the Alderman. Bernard went along the corridor to the Board Room where the Cup was. It was not recognizable as the tarnished  and dented object retrieved by Bernard under such very dramatic circumstances. Numerous Club representatives and reporters were admiring it. “It looks a treat,” said Bernard. “It was a piece of luck I found it.” Two photographers were fetched in and Bernard stood at the end of the room holding the ebony plinth on which the Cup rested. “If my face cracks your cameras don’t blame me!” he said. The cameramen used photo flashes and Bernard still had spots in front of his eyes from the dazzle as he led the Town out for the game. There were fifty thousand spectators in the famous ground and the excitement was tremendous. “I’ll be glad when we get started,” muttered Alec Anderson, and most of the other players were showing signs of strain. “Stop worrying!” said Bernard. “Just play your usual game. The rules aren’t altered because it’s a semi-final. The teams were: Blacksea RangersVernon; Holder, Collins; Cowan, Foster, Hale; Peplow, Crossley, Templewaite, Waterton, Hollis. Town—B. Briggs; Anderson, Duggins; Scutt, Draper, Hawkins; Cole, Norton, Stone, Perkins, Thomas. Bernard ambled to the middle for the toss-up. The referee, Mr Renton, was a brisk official with a reputation for keeping up with the game. Bernard lost the toss and the Town were set to face the breeze. To the surprise of all the Town attacked spiritedly, and from a pass from Tosh Perkins, a young and promising player, Ted Stone put his toe behind the ball with such force that Vernon failed to hold it. Holder tore to the rescue and kicked away, however. The Rangers had two very fast men on the wings and Peplow was soon conspicuous with a dash down the right and a smart pass back to Cowan. The burly half-back put in a powerful shot. Bernard brought the ball down, but appeared to fumble. The inside-forwards pelted at him as he juggled with the ball. When they were close up he grabbed hold and booted it away. “I just wanted to see how fast you could run,” he remarked as Templewaite slithered to a stop. The Rangers soon got the measure of the Town in midfield and launched another fast raid. This time it was Hollis who made the running and centred. Templewaite brought the ball under control with a deft bit of footwork, shaped for a right foot shot, and then used his left. Biff! He let fly with a stinger. When his head came up hopefully he saw that Bernard was holding the ball. “He’s another who sends you a postcard, Alec,” the goalie remarked. Spectators who had not seen Bernard play previously soon understood why he was called Bouncing Briggs. His acrobatic agility during a spell of pressure by the Rangers amazed them. When Waterton smashed in a high shot, Bernard rose for it as if he had rockets for legs. He knocked the ball up, and actually caught it while his feet were still off the ground. He bounced out and hurled the ball to Scutt. Scutt kicked to Tosh Perkins, who was fetched down on the verge of the penalty area. Tosh took the free-kick and put the ball against the crossbar. Soon afterwards the whistle went for half-time. The spectators wondered why Bernard hung about instead of following the players in. He stayed to watch the pigeons released. He saw seven or eight rise from the crowd and soar into the air. Then he made for the gangway and dashed in for his cup of tea and a snack. He had got as far as the corridor when he saw police helmets. There was a lot of shouting and commotion. “What’s goin on?” Bernard asked Rosser, who was out in the corridor. “You’ll never credit it,” said Rosser harshly. “The Cup has vanished again! It was stolen from the locked Board Room during the game. “Blooming Ada, who’s snitched it this time?” gasped Bernard.


By the time the players left the dressing-rooms there were numerous detectives on the scene. There was still a question as to whether the disappearance of the Cup was a stupid practical joke or a determined theft.

The plinth had not been taken. Bernard went striding down the pitch to his goal and had a surprise. A pigeon was sitting on the crossbar. “Lummy, it must be Alf Cook’s Cock-Eye,” spluttered Bernard observing the white ring round one of the pigeon’s eyes. “Alf won’t half be peeved! Shooosh!” He flapped a hand at the pigeon. It rose from the goal, wheeled round, and then settled again. Somebody in the crowd threw a bottle. It just missed the pigeon and dropped on to the pitch. Bernard pounced on the bottle. D’you want me to come and break it over your head?” he roared. “The blinking bird may be gormless, but it belongs to a pal of mine!” The referee decided that short of shooting the pigeon there was nothing to be done about it, and started the game. Before long Cowan tried another of his long shots. The bird flew down and settled on Bernard’s head but he managed to stop the ball. When he moved the pigeon eventually flew back to the crossbar. Bernard soon forgot about it. He was too busy as the Rangers assailed his goal. He made a succession of startling saves, and at last cleared the ball to midfield. “Come on, we want you!” said a stern voice at the side of the goal. The speaker was Detective-Sergeant Cackell, and with him was a plain-clothes constable. “Buzz off!” growled Bernard. The referee stopped the game and ran to find out the cause of the trouble. “We’re inquiring into the loss of the Cup,” stated Cackell, “and Detective-Superintendent Breeden has ordered us to fetch Briggs. “I suppose you’ll have to go,” said Mr Renton. “It’s blooming daft!” snarled Bernard. The trainer tossed a sweater to Tosh Perkins, and he went into goal while Bernard dashed off the field and up the gangway. The detective panted after him. “Where’s that Superintendent?” bawled Bernard. His shout fetched Superintendent Breeden out of the Board Room. His eyebrows lifted in surprise when he saw the goalie. “I didn’t tell you to fetch Briggs off the field,” he snapped at Cackell. “I asked you to get hold of him as soon as you could—and that meant after the game!” The reason why the Superintendent wanted Bernard was to take his fingerprints to compare with the marks on the plinth. “Oh, I thought you meant at once, sir,” bleated Cackell. Bernard wheeled round. He tipped Cackell and the plain-clothes man aside as he ploughed between them and dashed back into the open. He was just in time to see Peplow lob the ball towards the Town goal. At the same instant Cock-Eye the pigeon rose from the crossbar and flapped across Tosh’s line of vision. He went to punch at the ball and missed it. The supporters of the Rangers gave a thunderous cheer as the ball finished in the net. Bernard went prancing on to the pitch in a proper stew. “Blooming Ada, who else have we got to play, the blinking Fire Brigade and the Grenadier Guards?” he fumed. It was by that gift goal that the Town were knocked out of the Cup.

On the Monday morning, Bernard drove towards his station with a borrowed ladder lashed over the bath. It was his intention to repoint the chimney and mend the hole in the roof. All the newspapers had described the Town as unlucky losers as, indeed, they were. They had been fortunate, however, in having Bernard in the team for the season. Their big overdraft had been wiped out and there was money in the bank. Bernard had seen Alf Cook and told him that if the cat got Cock-Eye it would not break his heart. The pigeon had been the last to return to its loft. When Bernard reached Slagley he saw a car standing outside the station. A stranger in a black hat, with a brief-case under his arm, got out at his approach. “Presumably you are Mr Briggs,” he said, on observing the name on the side-car. “My name is Dawson, and I am a railways representative. We wish to re-purchase the station. “Blooming Ada, it’s falling down,” gasped Bernard. Mr Dawson chuckled. “It would require rebuilding, in any case,” he said. “The point is this, the line is going to be reopened to passenger traffic to serve the new town of Muckdown, and we shall be running diesel trains along here in due course. We are quite prepared to repay the fifty pounds you paid for the premises, plus twenty-five pounds for disturbance, and all legal charges. Bernard grinned broadly. “I ain’t arguing about that,” he chortled. “It’s a deal!”


The All-Round Roughneck 12 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1528 – 1539 (1955)

Bernard plays Cricket.


Bouncing Briggs 28 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1550 – 1577 (1955)

Bernard plays Football for Darbury Rangers. The best team in the league.


Bouncing Briggs 22 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1652 - 1673 (1957)

Bernard plays Football for Bradstoke Town. The worst team in the league.


Bernard Briggs 23 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1730 – 1752 (1959)

Bernard turns his hand to Boxing.


Bernard Briggs 23 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1792 - 1814 (1960)

Cricket, Football, Boxing, now Bernard takes up Tennis.


Bernard the Boot 16 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1928 - 1943 (1963)

Bernard takes up Rugby League Football.


Reprints etc.. are not listed.

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2005