Players outside the Old Greyhound Circa 1935
In the public bar Mr. Hannam and his wife were talking with the landlord and some of the older local inhabitants of Tinsley Green, when the conversation turned to sport. Marbles is the game at Tinsley, he was told, we have played them here right up to a few years
ago - turn of the century or there about.
The story goes that Mrs Hannam, who was terminally ill, so enjoyed the day’s outing and the impromptu game of marbles, that in memory of his wife Mr. Hannam gave Alf Farrinton a silver cup to be played for at the Greyhound each year there after. (I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY SOME OF THE OLDER PLAYERS THAT THERE WAS NO CUP AVAIBLE WHEN IT CAME TO THE PRESENTATION AND THAT A SMALL TOBY JUG FROM BEHIND THE BAR WAS PRESSED IN TO SERVICE. THIS STORY SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN BORNE OUT BY EDGAR STANLEY GRANDDAUGHER, WHO TOLD ME THE FOLLOWING TALE. IT WOULD SEEM THAT WHEN EDGER ARRIVED HOME, LATE IN THE EVEING AND A LITTE WORSE FOR WARE, HOLDING A SMALL TOBY JUG IN HIS HAND, TELLING HIS WIFE HOW HE HAD WON THE JUG PLAYING MARBLES – HE WAS NOT BELIVED. MRS STANLEY WAS NOT IMPRESSED AND THOUGHT HE HAD COME BY IT DISHONSTLY, ORDERED EDGAR FROM THE HOUSE IN DISCRACE. EDGAR SPENT THE NEXT THREE DAYS SLEEPING IN THE SHEAD. IT WAS TWO DAYS AFTER THE CHAMPIONSHIPS THAT THE LOCAL VICAR SAW MRS STANLEY ANS ASKED IF SHE WAS PLEASED THAT HER HUSBAND HAD WON THE MARBLES AND THE LOVELY CUP. AFTER THIS EDGAR WAS FORGIVERN AND ALLOWED BACK IN TO THE HOUSE.)
The first of the revival matches took place on Good Friday 1932, Good Friday was the last day of the Sussex Marbles Season, as well as being the day locally to plant potatoes.
At first the games were played on the bear earth, a four foot ring being scribed in the ‘dirt’ with a bit of wood on the end of a longish piece of string. There were five teams that took part the first year; they were the Black Horse, Hookwood, Tinsley Green ‘A’ and ‘B’, Three Bridges and the Crawley Legion. This first attempt at organising a Marbles Championship was a bit shambolic; there was a mix-up with difference marble games and their various rules. One contemporary writer in a local news paper the West Sussex County Times said “To the uninitiated ‘marbles’ is a children’s game, but to those who really ‘play the game’ ‘marbles’ is a serious game with a language all its own and it was this that was missing on Good Friday”.
It seems not to have been a game, but a massacre, smash went the marbles as the flying ‘tolley’ struck them, and by delft manipulation, the ‘tolley’ was placed near the opposing ‘tolleys’ which were skilfully ‘killed’ in rotation, Crawley British Legion died first, then the two Tinsley teams and then Three Bridges. The second string then entered the list, but again the Black Horse triumphed. Flushed with excitement the captain of the leading team called up his third man, who ‘knuckled down’ to such good purpose that he sent four marbles flying, ‘killing’ all his opponents and his team was acclaimed champions.
There were no rules as such for the first championships, other than six marbles for each team, 30 marbles in the ring. In later years when each team consisted of six players it was decided that there should be four marbles for each member of the two teams plus one extra, making a total of 49 marbles in the centre of the ring. This meant that a draw could not take place, as there was an odd number of marbles to knock out.