Dripping Yarns with David Arnold

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WHEN veteran Lewes fan Brian Beck mentioned to me that shortly after the war he had played for a Lewes Rugby Club side that took on a Rooks XI in a football match at the Dripping Pan I was keen to find out more, especially as he said he had a photograph of the occasion.

The next day Brian called at my house with the said photograph in hand and much more information in mind. For a start he could pin the date of the game down to September 1947.

Plus he was able to name quite a few of the people in the picture, starting with the distinguished-looking gentleman you can see in the centre.

This is Colonel Charles Doland Crisp OBE, Mayor of Lewes on no fewer than 11 occasions. Crisp Road on Landport is named after him.

Immediately to the right of the Mayor is a youthful Brian. He told me: “My hair is silver now but back then I was always known as Ginger.”

Others in the photograph include Geoff Baird, Bob Ford, Henry Windless. Joe Dwyer, Ronny Baker, Geoff Burrows, Johnnie Catt, Sprat Taylor and Edwin Shepherd.

Brian also pointed out Lou Turner who can be seen eighth from the right. He turns out to be ‘Mr Turner’, the long-time Headmaster of the Pells School. When I first moved to Lewes in 1962 he was my form teacher for a year before I went on to senior school.

If you ask any former Pells School pupil who attended classes when Mr Turner was Head I am certain everyone will talk of him with enormous affection and respect.

Seeing him in the photograph brought back the sad memory of when I last saw Mr Turner. It was on the day of the funeral of my younger brother Jimmy who died in a road accident in Lewes in the spring of 1966.

Though the service was held in South London, Mr Turner, along with fellow teacher Peter Jackson, made the effort to attend. Mr Turner himself passed away some time ago but Peter remains a regular visitor to the Dripping Pan.

With the aid of Club President John Edwards, I next did some research on Colonel Crisp. He began working life as a schoolteacher before taking up a career in insurance.

For seven years he lived in New York before returning to London in 1906.

He had quite a background in football, starting with playing for the London Hotspurs. He was a referee during the 1908 Olympic Games football competition and went on to help found the amateur Athenian League in 1912.

A year later he became the first director of Woolwich Arsenal FC after the club had moved to Highbury. At one time he was also a director of Chelsea and toured South America with the team.

During the First World War, the Crisps moved from London to Lewes.

Charles took up local politics.

In the Second World War he was sub-controller of the Lewes ARP wardens and it is said he was on duty for all 1,051 of the town’s air raid alerts.

Before this he had got very much involved with local sports clubs. The Crisp Cup in which Brian Beck played was just one of this energetic man’s many sporting initiatives. He even wrote a column in the Sussex Express answering queries about the game of football! 

Charles Crisp died in February 1953, just short of his 92nd birthday.

IT’S ALL DONE WITH MIRRORS!

WHEN Marvin Cox and Andy Donovan recently renovated their Fisher Street barber shop they found themselves with four large spare mirrors.

When I learnt of this I asked them if they would consider donating the mirrors to Lewes FC where I thought they could feature behind the bar and give a tardis-like feel to the Rook Inn?

Marvin and Andy kinfly agreed and the mirrors will shortly be on their way to the Dripping Pan. When thanking the pair for their generous gesture I took the opportunity to talk to them about their business. Marvin has been wielding the scissors since 1964 while Andy is a mere upstart having only taken up hairdressing in February 1970!

I asked them whether Lewes FC was a big topic of conversation with their customers and did they get to hear much club gossip? Andy said they did get many tit-bits of information from customers but for him it wasn’t a two-way thing: “It wouldn’t be right for us to spread what may be just a rumour. It’s a case of ‘hear no evil, speak no evil’.”

I learned that the world champion tennis player Fred Perry used to be a regular. Marvin recalled how Fred had told him his biggest regret was not investing in some swampland in Florida as recommended by a friend. That friend happened to be called Walt and that swampland became Disneyland!

Other celebrity heads Marvin has attended to include Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts and Gordon Smyth, trainer of the 1966 Derby winner Charlottetown.

As an afterthought Andy added: “Oh, and we also cut the hair of the bloke who writes Dripping Yarns.”

PS. Andy and Marvin are the only Lewes hairdressers/barbers who are part of the Lewes FC Support & Save scheme. Not only will they cut your hair but they will also cut the price by 10 per cent on production of your membership card.