The PSA Brotherhood

The father of the late comedian Kenneth Horne was a well-known Congregational Minister, the Reverend Sylvester Horne, who once said of a West Bromwich man that: "He discovered the Sunday afternoon! There were many people who never discovered it; they had always slept through it! But on Sunday afternoons the whole manhood of the country was at liberty, and therefore it was the time to do a good work for humanity."

The West Bromwich man to whom he referred was Mr John Blackham of Hill Top, who in the 19th century was a leading light in the religious life of the town.  John Blackham was born in West Bromwich in 1834 and during the next 89 years his name was destined to become well known and beloved throughout this country as well as on the continent of Europe and in the Dominion of Canada. When he died in 1923 there was a great sense of loss in the town of West Bromwich and his funeral was attended by men and women from all over the country.

In 1870, he founded the first Adult School in the area outside Birmingham, and he was also responsible for the forming of an organisation known as the Home Mission. Commendable as these achievements were, his main claim to fame came about when, in 1875, he found himself locked out of a Moody and Sankey Sunday afternoon meeting in the Town Hall, Birmingham. After enquiring as to the whereabouts of another Young Men's meeting, he was directed to the Steelhouse Lane Congregational Church, where he joined with 30 other young men in a church that can hold a thousand. When he thought of the crowd in the Town Hall and the handful in the church, John Blackham determined to return to West Bromwich and emulate the success of the Town Hall meeting. To do this, he and a few friends went into the streets of West Bromwich and such was their persuasiveness that on the following Sunday afternoon 120 young men gathered at Ebeneezer. Shortly after this meeting had started it grew to such proportions that they had to move from the schoolroom into the church itself.

This then was the start of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Movement. The name, however, came about through a train journey made by John Blackham. In the carriage he was travelling in were several men who by their conversation made him think they were ex-jailbirds who were planning to have some fun at his expense. To forestall what could have been a little embarrassing for him, John Blackham asked them the following question: "What sort of bible class would you rather have than go to a horse race or a cock fight?" They answered that they had nothing against the bible, but did the services in church need to be so blessed dull? This answer caused John Blackham to use the word 'pleasant' when describing his meetings and so the name 'Pleasant Sunday Afternoon' was applied to the movement. So successful were these meetings that in the next 10 years they had spread throughout the Black Country.

On August 31st, 1901, the PSA Institute was formerly opened in Lancaster on the corner of Rosemary Lane and North Road by Alderman N W Helme, Member of Parliament.  It consisted of many reading and recreation rooms and the marvellous Cromwell Hall which could seat 500 people.

The opening of the PSA Institute in 1901 on the left and as it was in 2015 on the right

After WWI in season 1920-21 they entered a team in the North Lancs League Division III under the name Centenary PSA and by 1923-24 they had two teams in Division III, Centenary PSA “A” & “B”.  In 1925, the Lancaster YMCA and the PSA Brotherhood amalgamated and the PSA name disappeared.

Pleasant Sunday Afternoon 1922-23

© Soccer Nostalgia

Design: David Ainsworth