Celebrating kippers, coal, and Pimple Thompson

FAN'S EYE VIEW: No 114 Southwold Town John Pigneguy
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The Independent Online
Southwold is famous for many things - its European Blue Flag beach overlooked by the lighthouse, its beautiful 15th-century church, the award-winning Swan Hotel, the Adnams brewery, and now (and not many people know this) its 100-year-old football club.

Southwold Town celebrate their centenary this season, having been affiliated to the Suffolk FA (for a fee of 5/-, or 25p) since 16 October 1895. Since that time, the club have won promotion, league titles, cups, been relegated and even banned for a month from playing on Southwold Common (which has always been their home) in 1902 due to "the unruly conduct of the Southwold spectators". That is not so much of a problem these days, due partly to the reluctance of many of the good people of the town to expose themselves, as it were, to the vagaries of the east coast weather - it can't possibly be the way we play!

Mind you, they did us proud in July with a substantial crowd when we played Ipswich Town's youth team as part of our celebrations. We lost 4-0 and could have done with Natalang, our nippy forward from the 1920s. A diminuitive striker of oriental origin studying English in Southwold, he scored against neighbouring Saxmundham when, having dribbled his way through the opposing defence and with only their giant custodian to beat, he ran between the keeper's legs and scored!

Southwold Town, now in the Anglian Combination Third Division, have produced some outstanding Suffolk county-level players, some with outstanding nicknames to match, like "Pimple" Thompson. The more outlandish names in the current squad are "Diddy" Barbrook in goal, who is thinking of doing a Higuita for the reserves against the Trowel and Hammer this afternoon, "Bygones" Burrage, who should have finished years ago and "Whiffy" (the aftershave king) Clifford.

We must be unique in having a footballing mayor. Michael Ladd played in the centenary five-a-side in May and at the finish he just had time for a wash and brush-up before reappearing in suit and chain of office for the presentations. Many other characters have been involved with the club over the last 100 years, and anecdotes from the old boys are endlessly entertaining, if occasionally unprintable.

Socially, the club has always been active, with past events including a Smoking Concert in 1904 when local people performed piano and violin solos and recited poetry. Nowadays we're a bit short of thespians so the exact centenary on 16 October will feature a curry evening. Other events include a 13-a-side football-rugby match against the rugby club (football first half, rugby second), a couple of discos and quiz evenings, culminating in the Centenary Dinner on 18 May.

Prizes will be awarded at most events, though they probably won't compare with New Year's Day 1934 when, at the Grand Annual Carnival Whist Drive, prizes for the raffle included a box of kippers, a pair of rabbits and 2cwt of coal.

"Forza Southwold!" and happy 100th.