At half time in Sunday’s FA Trophy game with Lowestoft, a number of Rooks supporters were made Life Members in recognition of their many years of voluntary work for Lewes FC.
These supporters included Roger Feltham and his wife Cath.
Roger is one of our real Dripping Pan characters. He devotes hours and hours of TLC to ensure the playing surface is as good as it can be. Take a look over the fence on any late afternoon in the football season and there’s a good chance you’ll see Roger bombing up and down the pitch on his motor mower or carefully touching up the white lines.
Given such devotion to the Rooks, you would think there could be no place in his social life for anything else. But there is. He is a Bonfire Boy with the Waterloo. This year his story looms large in the Waterloo’s excellent 5th November programme where Roger wastes no time in stating his priorities: “I love Bonfire but I am also very passionate about Lewes Football Club. However, Waterloo will always come first if the two should ever clash. Sorry Rooks.”
Roger joined Waterloo Bonfire Society in 1969 “at the grand old age of nine”. He says he and his best mates, Kevin Wadey and Gerald Baker, were recruited by Bert Penfold, a legendary name in Lewes Bonfire circles.
“Joining Waterloo was the best decision I ever made – unless, of course, you count asking Cathy to marry me. We are a family society and most of us know each other and are very good friends. My brother Gary and his daughter Phoebe are also members and Gary is the Drum Major of the Waterloo Scottish Drum and Pipe Band.”
Roger’s own musical prowess is limited to being the man who chooses the music that’s played at the Dripping Pan on match days. He’s allowed to do this because he is the only one with a key that can open the music CD store!
He is rightly proud of the fact that he has never missed a Lewes Bonfire Night. Over the years his costumes have included that of a cowboy, Genghis Khan and a Tibetan Devil Dancer. Nowadays he marches in the Waterloo’s Victorian Section dressed as a soldier of the Royal Artillery circa 1880.
Roger’s Bonfire memories include one occasion when extra wood was required for torches: “We went to see the Reverend at St John’s Church to ask if we could cut down some of the smaller trees on his bank. The Reverend kindly said yes but didn’t realise we would end up stripping the entire bank back to almost bare earth.”
By chance I still have a video recording of a brilliant Lewes Bonfire documentary screened on TV about 25 years ago. It has one hilarious scene featuring Roger and another well-known Waterloo stalwart, Mich Lorec (the latter with hair in those days), chatting to BBC presenter Ray Gosling. Roger remembers it for “one of my most infamous moments. I was holding up the Waterloo banner while being interviewed by Mr Gosling. He asked me what was on the banner to which I replied “Waterloo” and then looked at him as if he was totally stupid.”
The scene is a priceless moment by a priceless supporter of Lewes FC who just happens to have met his Waterloo – and loves it.