Cyril Fletcher presents the cup to the Tinsley Tigers
The main event was First round - Mullets v Bye - Tigers 29 v Rebels 20 - Bulldogs 17 v Spitfires 32. In the next round the Tigers beat the Spitfires. In the final it was the Tigers 32 v Mullets 17. Arthur Chamberlain beat Cyril Wilcock 8 marbles to 5 to win the individuals.
Cyril Fletcher presented the many prizes and Graham Neale president of the British Marbles Control Board thanked him for so doing. He also thanked George Burbridge the organiser, Bob Scott referee, Barbara Langridge for secretarial work and Ron Westbrook, landlord of the Greyhound.
In July the Tinsley Tigers, 'Pop' Maynard and George Burbridge went to Le Touquet in France as guests of the Mayor and corporation. They gave demonstrations in the town and on the beach.
In March 1955 George Burbridge banned Lady Docker from playing at Tinsley Green on Good Friday. The local papers headline ran 'Lady Docker: support for marbles ban'. The story was that on February 25th Lady Docker had demonstrated the game on television, and on March 3rd she was due to captain a team of factory girls in a game at Castleford, Yorkshire.
George said that they would not be allowed to play, as the game they play in Yorkshire is more like skittles than marbles.
1955 also saw the first of the ‘New Town’ teams playing at Tinsley Green. This new team was from A.P.V. Paramount, one of the first factories to be built on the Manor Royal Factory Estate. Crawley New Town was designated in 1948, and it seems that it took until the mid 50’s for the main flow of workers from London and beyond to feel at home and settle in to the new social life of the town and surrounding countryside.
The A.P.V. Acrobats were all members of Jordans Social Club and this first year took on a Dickension theme, with the team consisting of ‘Bill Sykes’, ‘Pickwick’ Peters, ‘Little Tip’ Palmer, ‘Scrooge’ Bashford, ‘Fagin’ Mitchell and G. Pocock. They were beaten in the first round by last year’s runners-up the Arundel Mullets. Despite this the members were so enthusiastic, that a ring was to be built at their headquarters ready for the next year.
There were eight teams; the right amount for a strait forward draw. The first round results were, Handcross Bulldogs beat Copthorne Spitfires, Arundel Mullets beat APV Acrobats, Tinsley Tigers beat Copthorne Cherrypickers, The Rebels beat The Knuckledowners. In the semi-finals Tinsley Tigers beat Arundel Mullets, The Rebels beat Handcross Bulldogs. The Final sawTinsley Tigers beat The Rebels
In the junior championship two scout’s teams took part with Slaugham beating Ardingley. ‘Wee Willie’ Wright won the individuals beating last year’s winner Arthur Chamberlain in the final. After two years of American participation, there was no US naval presents this year.
The APV team was as good as their word, for at the end of May there was a newly built ring at their headquarters Jordans. It was opened in grand style, an opening with a difference. It was opened by ‘Pop’ Maynard, who proudly wearing his large yellow and black rosette the colours of the Copthorne Spitfires and carrying his blackthorn stick, arrived in a three seater Bell Helicopter – hovered over the ring. From this position he made the first shot and so inaugurated the ring. The first match was between A.P.V. and the Copthorne Spitfires, the score was 31 – 18 to the Spitfires. (GEORGE BURBRIDGE WHO WAS IN THE HELICOPTER WITH ‘POP’ TOLD ME IN 1976 THAT ‘POP’ NEEDED A COUPLE OF BRANDIES TO GET HIM UP.)
1956 was the first year that the bar had opened at 10.30. The headlines in the local paper read ‘Marbles champs go down at last’ There was a sensation when the Tigers went down to the Casuals, a team composed mainly of well-known players from Surrey and Sussex. Six teams took part the results were First round Spitfires beat the Rebels 29-20, the Casuals beat the Half Mooners 37-12, the Tigers beat APV 33-16. In the semi final the Tigers beat the Spitfires 25-18, the Casuals had a Bye. The final saw the Casuals beat the Tigers 25-24. Wee Willie Wright beat Percy Maynard to win the individuals 7-6 and in the international England beat Wales 24-23.
There were six team in the junior event, the first round was Ardingly ‘A’ beat Snell Hatch Snapers, Slaugham Scouts beat Three Bridges, Ardingly ‘B’ beat the Tiger Cubs. Second round Ardingly ‘B’ had a Bye, Slaugham Scouts beat Ardingly ‘A’, in the final Slaugham Scouts beat Ardingly ‘B’.
The prizes were presented by Fabian of the yard and Graham Neale thanked him and referred to the sad loss that had been sustained during the year when Bob Scott, who had refereed the contest for many years, was killed in a road accident.
1957 saw the Tigers in decline, for the first time in eight years they did not make it to the finals. The headlines read, “Marbles championships sensation”. New town team Telcon Terribles had won the title at their first attempt. APV, the first new town team ever to enter – were unable to raise a team, but one of their players, Len Roberts was captain of the Terribles.
The Telcon team spent their lunch hours in resent weeks in a corner of the factory workshop, where a practice ring was set up. George Burbridge stumbled across them one Sunday morning when they were practising on the APV ring.
There was a shortage of clay marbles, and an appeal went out for further supplies. Mr Mary Thompson of Tring Hertfordshire came to the rescue with a bag of fifty.
Seven teams took part, in the first round, Half Moon ‘B’ beat Half Moon ‘A’. Tigers beat Spitfires, Telcon Terribles beat Casuals, Rebels had a Bye. Semi-finals, Rebels beat Half Moon ‘B’, Terribles beat Tigers, in the final Terribles beat Rebels. In the individuals ‘Wee Willie’ Wright beat Len Smith, Wales beat England in the international and Slaugham Scouts won the junior championship for the sixth time – “Having encountered no serious opposition.”
Conditions were ideal and hundred of people had come by bicycle, car and coach to see the play. Mr E C Larkman spokesman for the Terribles said after the event “We are delighted to have won the championship at our first attempt. Our aim was to play as a team rather than as individuals and I believe that this is why we won.”
The Crawley Observer in February 1958 had a story about two new teams the Silentbloc Busters and a team from the Dr Johnson pub in Langley Green practicing on a ring at the pub. But according to George Burbridge the newcomers would have to put in a good deal of practice before they can hope to beat the Terribles.
It was a family affair with Telcon Terribles winning the team title and the Telcon Terriers winning the junior contest. Len Smith of the Terribles beat 'Wee Willie' Wright in the individuals, after the game Willie said, “it was a fair win, he's a nice player."
Unluckiest man of the day was Sam Bailey the 'Durham Wizard' who was returning to English marbles after a ten year absence in Scotland and other foreign parts. He appeared for the Tigers and was killed early in their match against Copthorne Spitfires.
In the first round the Terribles beat the Rebels, the Tigers beat the Spitfires and the Jets beat the Casuals. The semis saw the Teribbles beat the Jets and the Tigers with a bye. In the final the Terribles beat the Tigers.
After winning for the last six years the Slaugham Scouts were ousted by the Hookwood Horrors in the first round. The results were Telcon Terriers beat Ardingly, Hookwood Horrors beat Slaugham Scouts. In the final the Terriers beat Hookwood Horrors, winning at their first appearance. Wales beat England in the International match held after the main contest.
Jim Mason of the Telcon Terribles on behalf ‘Marble Section of the Telcon Social & Athletic Club’ had written to the Cambridge Tiddlywinks Club some 14 days after the Good Friday Championship. He said, “After reading your article in the daily papers, we fell that we are in the same position as yourselves. We are both trying to prove that Tiddlywinks and Marbles are both games of skill, and I feel sure that we could help each other a great deal. We have been British Marbles Champions for two successive years, and we are trying to revive a game, which is very popular down here in Sussex. If we could arrange to play each other at our own games for any charity you mention, I am sure it would popularise both games very much.”
Cambridge took up this suggestion, and arranged a marbles-and-winks match on Tinsley Green, Crawley, for Friday 13th June, the day following the First World Tiddlywinks Congress.
On the evening of Friday 13th there was a carnival atmosphere at the Greyhound with Janet Brown, her husband Peter Butterworth and Fulham and England footballer Jim Langley as well as local skiffle group ‘the Blue Devils’. After beating the University at marbles, Telcon lost heavily at tiddlywinks. The Telcon side was saved from total defeat only by footballer Jim Langley.
The local paper ran a headline ‘Honours shared by Telcon Terribles and University.’ The final score was Marbles winner Telcon 2 – nil Tiddlywinks winner Cambridge 40 extremely skilful tiddles, Telcon One extremely skilful tiddle and 7 extremely fortunate tiddles. The marble referee was Ted Mitchell and the commentary was by Mr ‘Marbles’ George Burbridge.
1959 was the third year running the Telcon Terribles won the competition, and the Telcon Terries won the junior event by beating the Hookwood Horrors.
Drizzling rain in the morning affected the attendance, which was the lowest for many years. It also set problems for the players and even the experts found it hard going on the sodden sand that covered the rings. Halfway through the tournament the referee Ted Mitchell stopped play while fresh sand was applied to the ring.
The final was the only match the Terribles played; Len Roberts said, "it was very sticky on the wet sand and very cold for the fingers. Conditions were far from good."
Five team took part this year. First round the Copthorne Spitfires beat Johnson Jets, Tinsley Tigers beat the Cambridge Crackpots. The semis Tinsley Tigers beat Copthorne Spitfires. In the final Telcon Terribles beat Tinsley Green Tigers. In the individuals 'Wee Willie' Wright beat Len Smith. An international was held in which Wales beat England.
The weather improved towards the end and the sun came out for the presentation, which was made by singer Toni Dalli with help from Julie Bishop and Jimmy Young.