David Arnold’s Dripping Yarns: Confessions of a Cup Final ticket tout

Saint and Greavsie
Saint and Greavsie
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We’ve got a library in the Rook Inn. It started up when fan Peter Hiscox donated a box of books, mainly thrillers, and said we could sell them for what we could get and give the money to Lewes FC.

Before we knew it the idea caught on and dozens more books joined the collection that now includes an impressive array of football tomes, some in pristine condition.

I was browsing through the various titles on Sunday morning last week, waiting for the Young Rooks to go into cup action against Crawley Wasps (Lewes won 6-2). Spotting a book featuring those footballers-turned-funny men, Saint and Greavsie (aka Ian St John and Jimmy Greaves), I just happened to alight on a page where Jimmy recalled his FA Cup appearances with Spurs.

This is what Jimmy had to say about one: ‘In 1967 we met Chelsea in the first all-London final. Actually the whole thing was a bit of an anti-climax following the press build-up.

Anyway, with Dave Mackay as skipper we feared no-one.

It has to be said though that dear old Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris kept me fairly quiet throughout. Not that it mattered. We were far too good for Chelsea.

Jimmy Robertson scored a fine goal to put us one up at the break and half-way through the second half Frank Saul, with his back to the Chelsea goal, swiveled to connect with a Mackay throw-in and Peter Bonnetti was caught completely by surprise – two-nil!

Bobby Tambling did get one back for the Blues but we held on comfortably to hear the ‘Glory Glory’ chants ringing round Wembley again. Marvellous moments, moments no footballer ever forgets.

The words ‘press build-up’ and ‘anti-climax’ struck a chord. I was at once taken back 46 years to when, as a schoolboy of 14, I had my first and last experience as a ticket tout.

It all began when I was lucky enough for my name to be drawn out of the hat enabling me to buy two Cup Final tickets via my Army Cadets affiliation.

At the time my football interest only extended to occasional visits to the Dripping Pan and the names Spurs and Chelsea held no magic for me.

What I had seen, however, was how the newspapers were full of stories of Cup Final tickets changing hands for fortunes: pocket money heaven here I come! My Dad was no football fan either and I persuaded him to drive us to Wembley on the big day. I’m sure he was more bemused than keen to aid and abet me in my foray into dubious financial dealings.

By noon I had been offered six times face value. My Dad advised taking the money.

But no, I insisted better offers would be forthcoming, just like the newspapers predicted.

Unfortunately, there were no better offers.

At 2.45pm my Dad suggested that we go in and see the game. I stubbornly said no.

Then, peeved and resentful, I sold the two tickets at face value at just on 2.55pm.

I have few regrets in life. But that day at Wembley when I didn‘t go in to see the Cup Final with my Dad is one of them.