Christmas Arrived Early This Year

By John Wallbank

I certainly hope that on the evening of the 23rd of December, a lot of Ryers ears were burning! There I was at my place of work here in Wellington, New Zealand, when my wife rang to tell me that one of my old Rye former footballing buddies from way back had been on the phone to her and wanted to meet up with me. When I asked who, she told me it was Roy Igglesden, who happened to be in Wellington, and after many visits to the land of the long white cloud had finally got to a place where we were still in residence. He had tried before but missed us due to our many moves over the years. So when I got myself up from the floor, not being used to such surprises, my mind raced back over the years to the days we played together on the windy pitches of the West Hill and the like, of course that was after playing football for Bob Huxsteps school teams in the morning. It was something in the region of 35 years since Roy and I were even in polite conversation together, let alone passing a ball around. What would he look like, come to that what would he think of me, would we even recognise each other? All this and I still had a shift to finish and textile dyeing to pay attention to for the next few hours.cristmas

The morning of the 24th. arrived, and up early, a quick phone call to a voice I still could place as well travelled but Sussex. I don’t as a rule, get up early or to go into the city very often. I suppose this day was something special though. We live about 30 minutes out of Wellington. I met Roy outside his hotel. The face was familiar, hair slightly different, but then so is mine, so we had a starting point in common.

Did I say starting point? After the pleasantries were exchanged, we decided to find breakfast, after parking the car the talking began, non stop, about all that happened to us over the passing years. We walked to the shopping area and found a suitable place, at which to eat. We did manage to order what we wanted, still talking and reminiscing all the while. After such a long time the memories were flooding back, of Rye as a whole, the Tilling Green Estate in particular, and specially the people of Marley Road in the early 1950’s. We recalled the school days, the Goundrys, the Bretts, the Wilsons, the Oldfields, the Cagers, the Newsteads, the Hollands and of course the Cuttings who always seemed to be at the forefront of celebrations. I think we named all the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters and in some cases, grand parents. How well we remembered the Marley Road Maulers even John Goundry dyeing all the shirts to look the same colour, in his Mum’s washing vat!!! We did eventually finish our breakfast, then it was endless cups of coffee, not once in nearly three hours that it took us, did we get asked to vacate the table. As if anyone would dare ask such a thing of two RYERS together. I was so surprised to hear a lady, who had obviously earwigged our conversation, say that she was intrigued to hear of two guys meeting up after such a long time, quite frankly so were we madam. All too soon it was time to leave the past, and get back to the present, so it was back to the car, where we headed for the airport, still talking of course. Roy was heading back to Singapore via Australia. As we said our goodbyes we agreed that it would definitely not be another 35 years before meeting up again, and a strong hint was made that perhaps, next February or March, another meeting could be arranged. We had discovered a mutual love of golf, so I guess this could be a continuing story to “Rye’s Own”, on how the youngsters grew up, left the area, their families and friends, but always retain their memories of Rye…… Thanks to “Rye’s Own”, for I know that Roy obtained his information on my whereabouts through your pages, my Christmas did arrive early this year.

“Rye’s Own” January 2005

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