Club History 1 of 4

1. Derek Matthews

I heard recently from Derek Matthews, a long time Vice President of the Club and former 1st XI captain and thought that his reminiscences might be of interest.

Derek played in every 1st team game from the 1957/58 season through to midway in the 1972/73 season missing only 2 games (when he got married in Oct 64) during which time he played for Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and the Hockey Association.

He actually first played for the club, in goal, towards the end of the 1955 season when Eric Holmes was not available and W.C. Jones (Alleyne’s teacher and club founder member) gave him special dispensation to miss Sports Day! It must have been one of the last games of the season and was at Wardown Park against Luton. The team was captained by Eric Custance at right back, stalwart Ron Watson, a great buddy of Eric’s at left back and a dashing Bob Bedford on the right wing, Harry Hummerstone may also have played. At the time, he was in the School first eleven, captained by David Tomlinson, and he believed it was expected that he would take over from Eric, in goal, when he retired. However the next season he was converted to a right back in the school team and therefore played in that position in front of Eric in 1957 until he (Eric) retired in 1960. Ray Hopwood took over in goal from Eric and was an ever present until he retired in 1972.

From 1960 onwards the club began to play further afield; Eastcote, Norfolk Wanderers and Old Bechanamians to mention a few. Harry Hummerstone was the captain, up to his premature death in 1963, and Derek took over from him. He told me that he has a team photo of that season, resplendent in white shirts. The team comprised of Ray Hopward in goal, Derek was right back and Terry Collins at left back, Trevor Stocks at right Ron Raymond at centre and Peter Hunt at left half, with the forward line of Brian Ivory, Roger Harrison, Harry, Jim Huckle and John Austin (note the 2-3-5 formation). On the day the photo was taken Roger, a popular 2nd XI player, was standing in for Tony Huckle. Jim and Tony joined the club that season, following the demise of the British Tabulating Club (ICL) in Letchworth, choosing to join us rather than the newly formed Letchworth club; both were talented players. Also in the picture are Tom Saul, who regularly umpired the 1st XI, and Tony Farrell, who normally umpired for the seconds. The photograph is actually on the gallery wall in the club and, if you are interested, I can show it to you if you ask me. Another stalwart umpire for club in the mid to late 60s was Anne Fitch (another long time VP).

The team was relatively successful, enjoying an especially fierce rivalry with Blueharts. Other teams on the fixture list included Welwyn G C, West Herts, Broxbourne, Rickmansworth, Bedford, Luton, Old Dunstablians, Downing College, Crostyx, Old Loughtonians and Southgate Adelaide to name but a few.

Derek captained the side until about 1970, when Peter Nash took over and he gave up playing in 1972. He also has another photo of that period (1970) which features, amongst others, Chris Thurlow, Ray Hopward, Mike Smith, Terry Collins, Jim Huckle, Glyn Welch, Peter Nash and himself. He still has his red shirt and red socks, which were used as christmas stockings for his children. He has fond memories of his time as a member of the club and in particular Eric. Many a Saturday the two of them would drink at the club, move on to the Royal British Legion then stagger up Walkern Road, natter outside Derek’s home, much to the annoyance of the neighbours, before Eric carried on to his home in Rowan Crescent and his very tolerant wife!

One final abiding memory he has is of the late John Austin leaving the pitch mid game to open the Chapel of Rest. John, of course, was a director of Austin’s Funeral Service. “Those were the days” Derek says!

Tony Parker
August 2014