Hi, my name is Barry Lovell
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting my old boys club, the Crown & Manor in Hoxton. I had the privilege of being a member there way back in the 60’s and spent my teenage years playing football and cricket for the club.
I had not been back for almost 45 years and was taken back how the club building had changed from how I remembered it! When I was shown around inside all the memories came flooding back and I was pleased to see the old framed photographs of the exterior and the sports room, gym and yard area where I learnt to play competitive football for the club and my old school Whitmore.
To see the same snooker table still being used brought a smile to my face and also the table tennis tables where as a youth I played ‘around the table’ with my mates. The original building had a -22 rifle range in the loft where we were supervised and taught how to shoot.
Looking back, this was probably where I picked up the skills that later in life enabled me to be a marksman in the Territorial Army in Romford. I have lots of medals from the Skill at Arms competitions and can only thank the staff at the C&M for their patience.
The names I can recall from the 1960’s were Denny Keneally who was the manager and Arthur Howard who tried to teach me how to box. The boxing training was really hard work and I found myself out in the yard most evenings being coached in football skills by one of the older members. I can still hear ‘lean over the ball when shooting’ ringing in my ears after all these years.
Looking back, me and my mates had a great time at the club. We used to go on trips away and I recollect a trip to Snowden in Wales where we stayed at the mountain sports centre Plas y Brenin in Capel Curig. What fun we had climbing Mount Snowden and canoeing in the freezing cold lakes! A long way from Hoxton but great fun.
To be honest the most memorable event was when I captained the football club when we visited Winchester College annually. After a coach trip down we were split up into pairs and were chaperoned to lunch by our guests who had to attend classes on a Saturday morning.
After the match we had tea with the players and teachers before heading back to London totally exhausted but happy because we normally won! Not bad for an East End team eh!
I’m sure I will visit the club again during the summer months and maybe bring my young son along to bore him with all the stories from yesteryear. I can only think what a lucky boy I was to be a part of such a great club and thank Winchester College for sponsoring us because without their funding it would never have happened.
Just one other thing that I remember is having prayers on a Friday night after sports. A local vicar would attend and we would all go into the chapel for a short service before heading off to various social events!
This was a nice touch and looking at all the old photos on the walls of boys and men who served in our armed forces makes me feel very proud of the Hoxton area where I had the privilege of growing up.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Gray for taking the time to show me around the newly built club and for sending me the photographs of the old building, it was really appreciated.
Lots of best wishes to all the staff and members of the club and I wish you all the success you deserve in the future.
29th February 2016