Dripping Yarns with David Arnold: Alex’s generation game

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You know you are getting old when you can remember the release of the very first hits of the Rolling Stones and here they are today in the midst of a 50th anniversary tour.

I had much the same feeling when Lewes FC fan Alex Timlin recently sent me a yellowing and dog-eared copy of a local newspaper dating back to September 1963.

In it was a fulsome report of an FA Cup clash between Lewes and Lancing at the Dripping Pan.

The headline ‘Rooks on the Rampage’ reflects the 3-0 scoreline achieved in front of 474 fans that resulted in Lewes earning an away tie against Crawley in the following month (which they went on to lose).

The newspaper was the Lewes Times, a title no longer in existence.

The reason Alex sent it to me was because it includes a photograph from which his very youthful face is beaming out amidst a gaggle of youngsters clearly enjoying their afternoon down at the Pan, much as the kids of today do (free of charge, too, thanks to the sponsorship of Lewes Estates).

The funny thing is that I knew Alex very well way back then, for we were classmates at Mountfield Road County Secondary School.

Indeed, Alex was able to identify two other school pals in the picture, David Hathaway and John Lelliott.

I’m still in regular contact with David and his sister, Sally, but haven’t seen John for more time than I care to remember.

What gives a delightful turn to this story is that these days Alex’s two youngest children, James, 16, and Jasmin, 13, often accompany their dad to Lewes games. Keeping the family theme going is the fact that Alex’s older brother, Rob, is also an ardent supporter.

Alex says he has a vague memory of the picture being taken but not anything of the actual match, although he thinks it was his first-ever visit to the Dripping Pan because the FA Cup tie had triggered a lot of excitement in the town.

Like me, Alex had quite a gap from following Lewes in schoolboy fits and starts in the ‘60s to re-discovering the attractions of non-league football many years later.

He told me: “I went along to see the FA Cup replay against Mangotsfield in the Autumn of 2001. Lewes won to clinch that amazing game against Stoke in their first ever foray into the First Round proper. But I became what you’d term a ‘regular’ at the start of the first King era.”

Since that time Alex says his Lewes FC highlights include the sensational Trophy game against Weymouth where Lewes lost 8-5, beating Eastbourne Borough away 2-0 on New Year’s Day 2008 and the Boxing Day 2009 home game when the Rooks trounced Dover 6-2.

Like all of us he has been hugely impressed with the massive improvements to the Dripping Pan infrastructure made over the last decade or so. The next priority, he says, must be to renovate the toilets!

Alex then told me that his newspaper cuttings stash that held the Lewes Times also included a Sussex Express clipping from around the same time that contained a review of the school play, The Admirable Crichton.

One would-be junior thespian who gets a favourable mention is a certain Roger Palmer, another of today’s Lewes FC season ticket holders.

I began with the Rolling Stones so might as well conclude this week’s column with some Lewes town-related pop trivia.

Stones drummer Charlie Watts lived for a while in Southover, not far from the Dripping Pan.

Mick Jagger also once stayed in Lewes but his visit saw him banged up in the prison.