Remembering Fred Masters – Goalkeeper Magnificent

FRED MASTERS 1922 – 2013

By Jim Hollands

It is with great personal sadness that I report the passing, on Monday 25 November, 2013 of Rye United’s post war goalkeeper, Fred Masters, a man who made more appearances (388) for the team than any other player before or since.

Those were the days when Rye had the best football team in the area
Those were the days when Rye had the best football team in the area

My memories of Fred stretch back to the 1946-47 season, when as a lad of eight, I attended every Rye game, home and away, with my father and grandfather and was privileged to be at the Hastings Rangers ground on 29 November 1947 when Fred played his very first game for the team in his soon to become familiar, green jersey. Rye won in a high scoring game and a great success story began for Fred and his team. Spectators travelled in Bourne’s Coaches driven by Alex Henshaw to matches with the players in those days.

Bournes Bus

United were in the East Sussex League, playing against teams such as Hailsham, Punnetts Town and Roc-a-Nor. Fred Masters was a remarkable goalkeeper with very ‘safe hands’ but quite a character, I remember numerous occasions when he would make forays almost to the half way line when the opportunity arose.

He played with the players that became legends of Rye football, Bill ‘Blower’ Pierce, ‘Shoey’ Bennett, Michael Lehey, Charlie Weller, ‘Pickles’ Igglesden and the Popes and Goodsells. Fred Masters became one of those legends in a team that swept all before them in the late forties and early fifties, winning trophy after trophy at the illustrious ‘Pilot Field’ venue.

Fred’s 388 games for United first team spanned fourteen years. He was with the team when it climbed the football ladder and joined the Sussex County League, won a Division Two Championship medal and was still part of the team that finished second in the Division One championship in 1959/60. He played his 388th. game for the first team on 20 February 1960, finishing as he began, with a 2-1 win at home to Wigmore Athletic.

Fred Masters Rye United
Fred Masters Rye United

Fred Masters, who was born in Ore and served with the Royal Sussex Regiment during World War Two, made his home in Rye and worked at Jempsons Haulage Company, where he eventually became their Transport Manager. The funeral was at Hastings Crematorium on 13 December. There was a reception after at the Robin Hood, Icklesham.

“Rye’s Own” January 2014

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