An article from historian Paul Vanes
Yet another Lockheed stalwart has passed away, a full bloodied defender of the old school, Eric Dobbs who was born on 15th October 1920 in the Norfolk village of Hingham according to Coventry City historian Jim Brown but Barry J.Hugman in his post war players’ records suggests it was at Wymondham, a few miles to the east. The family moved to Coventry in 1926 and Eric left school at the age of 14 to work in the painting and decorating trade like his father, by 1936 he was playing for the Miners Arms team and two years later was with the Coventry City “A” team. In 1940 he enlisted in the Coldstream Guards as a PT instructor but later saw action in North Africa and Italy, Eric received a bullet in the thigh during the extremely bloody battle of Monte Cassino in 1944.
He joined City in 1946 as a professional playing for the “A” and reserve teams¸ occasionally he lead the attack then he made his first team debut against Swansea Town which ended a 3-2 victory and over this and the next season Eric increased his total of appearances to five before being allowed to leave Highfield Road to join Bristol Rovers for 1948/49 but he never played in their senior team. Drifting into non-league, Eric spent 1949/50 playing Birmingham League football with Kettering Town even scoring a rare goal, from the penalty spot against Stoke City “A” in a 4-1 victory, also with the Poppies was Les Latham who left in October to move to Lockheed-Leamington as the club’s first post-war professional player.
Lockheed signed Eric in August and he made his Brakes debut versus Oswestry Town on August 27th and by the end of the season, was a winner of the Birmingham Senior cup, the highest honour achieved at that time by the Brakes, following a draw at Manor Park, Hereford United Reserves lost the toss for the choice of venue and made their way to the Windmill where goals from Wally Soden, Hughie Morrow and a penalty from Jai Stanley’s grand dad Fred Keeble gave Lockheed the cup despite United fielding five first team players. A record crowd of 3,500 fans packed into Tachbrook Road that afternoon.
Eric spent the next three seasons with Lockheed before calling it a day at the end of 1953/54 and he was appointed first team trainer, Eric was a no nonsense defender who could be as tough as nails but off the pitch, he was the complete opposite and he returned to the trade he started 21 years earlier then joining Skelcher and Rowe who made machine tools where he worked as a maintenance man. A keen golfer, he plied his hobby in Leicestershire. He was also one of the early members of the Coventry City Former Players’ Association when it was formed by Jim Brown in 2007 and he attended the first Legends Day.
He is survived by his wife Joyce.
To the Family and all friends, please accept sincere condolences on behalf of everyone connected to Brakes Trust and Leamington FC.
Rest in Peace, Eric.
Many thanks to Jim Brown allowing me to plunder the original article in his Coventry Telegraph column on February 26th.