Just in case you were wondering what kind of warped mind comes up with a site like this, I thought I’d share just a few relevant biographical details with you ...
A child of the 50s (just), and certainly not born into a family of football fanatics, my earliest footballing memory is of the 1968 FA Cup Final, and wondering why both West Bromwich Albion and Everton were wearing their change strips. The same thing happened again the following year when Man City beat Leicester. Perhaps that’s the way it was in those days, but apart from anything else, it demonstrates how my mind worked even then!
I saw my first match the following year at Stamford Bridge, where Burnley (yes, Burnley) beat Chelsea 3-2. Although nominally a Chelsea supporter thereafer, living in Peckham, South London with no car and terrible public transport meant that live games were relatively few and far between. It didn’t help that our next door neighbour, who was a few years older than me, was an Arsenal supporter. On a positive note, he was a also a big fan of Motown and the Trojan label and I often used to listen to this wonderful music blaring out of his open bedroom window. Bob and Marcia anyone?
My nearest professional club was Millwall, in the era of Harry Cripps, Derek Possee et al. I visited the Den a few times but, being a coward opted instead for the less hazardous number 37 bus ride to Champion Hill, home of the mighty Dulwich Hamlet. My first encounter with Non League football
Supporting the Hamlet took a fair amount of courage, especially when travelling away. Just as now, their colours were pink and blue - take the Birmingham City shirts of the period, and replace the broad white stripe down the front with a bright pink one, and you’ll get the picture. Nevertheless, I proudly sported my bright knitted pink and blue scarf at such far flung places as Gander Green Lane (Sutton United) and Sandy Lane (Tooting & Mitcham).
Champion Hill in those days was a huge crumbling edifice ... with an excellent chip shop just outside the main gate, from which a long passageway led to the turnstiles. Sometimes I sat in the enormous stand that ran the length of the near touchline, and on others I walked around the vast shingle terraces trying to imagine what the place must have been like in it’s heyday. Of course, it’s long gone now and it saddens me to constantly read of Hamlet’s continuing struggle to survive.
Truth be told, I also had an allegiance to Leatherhead - due the fact that my father’s family were from Ashtead nearby, and where I spent many a happy summer holiday. The fact that the Tanners competed in the same league as Hamlet complicated matters somewhat though. In the ‘Introduction’ page of the site, you can see me on my return to Fetcham Grove, getting on for thirty years since my previous visit!
For much of the 1980s I grew disillusioned with football, and instead concentrated on things like horse-racing (I came from staunch racing stock), music and cinema - the latter still abiding passions of mine. Friday evenings would invariably find me indoors boning up on the formbook for a visit to the track the following day. Marriage - and the financial constraints thereof - however, closed that particular avenue of pleasure for me eventually!
In 1987 however, I moved to Eastbourne and began to get the footballing bug once more. With several Non League clubs on my doorstep, I didn’t even consider travelling to the Goldstone Ground to watch ‘The Albion’. Eastbourne United and Eastbourne Town were the leading sides in the town back then, although that year a little club called Langney Sports won the County League Division 3 title. I mostly watched ‘Town on and off at the Saffrons in those days as it was near by and I didn’t have a car. In 1992 however, I saw Langney for the first time and was hooked.
Since then, I’ve barely missed a game at Priory Lane and have seen it grow from a modest Non League ground into one of the best stadiums in the county. In the mid-1990s I started following the Sports away from home and in 1996 began writing about these trips under the pseudonym of ‘Nomad’ in the matchday programme. What began as a bit of fun has expanded out of all proportion. Now re-named Eastbourne Borough, the Sports keep me more occupied than ever on match days: broadcasting, both on local radio and over the PA system at home games. Between 2000 & 2006 I ran the club’s official website, before stepping down in order to concentrate on Pyramid Passion. In addition, a couple of books, co-authored with fellow sad-person Mike Spooner (programme editor) have also been produced, celebrating the Club’s promotion seasons: 1999/00 and 2002/03.
A few years back I launched the ‘acclaimed’ Nomad-Online site, dedicated to Non League football in Sussex; and in 2003 published (with help of Mike Floate) the ‘best selling’ “Non League Football Grounds of Sussex”. This was followed in September 2006 by the first ever book devoted entirely to “Dugouts” (I’m not sure whether I should be proud of that fact or not!). I am also a regular contributor for the wonderful “Groundtastic” magazine.
Away from Priory Lane, away-days, and the keyboard I attempt to fit in my proper job as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, where I teach student nurses how the body works (well, someone has to!). I am also still married (some would say remarkably) and have a teenage year old son, Jonathan (aka ‘Nomad Junior’) who occasionally accompanies me on many of my little excursions. Meanwhile the collection of DVDs and CDs (not to mention the vinyl) continues to grow ... and grow. I could talk about that, but it would take another couple of websites.
Anyway, that’s me ... hope you like the site.
Pictured right: Anorak at Work (Dartford FC, Dec 2006)
Photograph by Nick Mattlock