The Birth Of The Derelicts…

This is the early history of the Derelicts or how and when it began. The facts. Possibly.

Trying to get to the bottom of when The Derelicts actually began has proved to be, much like hooping bottles at a funfair, rather elusive.

I started chatting with Mark Witkowski, the regularly misspelt and badly mispronounced long-time captain of the side, best known as Skip.

“Tell me Skip,” I asked, “just how long have the Derelicts been going?”

“Well that’s easy Moz,” said Skip, a man of notoriously few words, “just ask Ray Slater.”

If only it were that easy. If only. But I asked Raymondo where and, more importantly, when it all began and he got super excited by the prospect of having someone to tell it all to. All those treasured memories to reveal. And over a pint he began to tell the story of how this fine band of players became the mighty and magical Derelicts.

Sadly, it appeared he’d chosen to spill the beans after pint number eight or nine, and before long the moment was gone and he was off taking the piss out of Big Merv. And so I had to content myself over the months and years and indeed decade that followed with being shoved a selection of dog-eared old snaps of players from “back in the day”…

And then on a cold January Saturday just after New Year 2017 I finally started to get somewhere. The font of all Derelicts knowledge I hoped would, like Deep Throat in All The President’s Men, reveal all. That man turned out to be Humfrey Malins CBE, a distinguished chap with a pedigree of learning and clarity of thought crafted from a long career as an astute MP, lawyer, bon viveur and raconteur. Surely he’d know?

After some cloak and dagger work, a coded email arrived from Humf – “meet me at the club…wont b at the lunch…will be on the far touchline for much of the match… don’t be late … all best wishes humfrey”.

And sure enough, wrapped up awaiting the Colchester game to kick off, there he was. To be precise, there they were. The origin of the species… Humfrey Malins, Peter Moore, John Milner and Mick Levey. Some of The Derelicts’ founding fathers. I’d reached the holy grail. Hadn’t I?

“It was in 1982 Mozza, that it all began, I think,” said Humf, handing me a framed photo containing a grinning collection of roughly-kitted men who, you could just tell, knew how to enjoy themselves.

“I think it might have been earlier than that Humf, possibly ’81-ish,” offered John Milner, nodding sagely

“No, not sure it was,” interrupted Peter Moore with a wince, “I think it might even have been late 70s that it all began.”

“Well let’s see if young Mozza can work this out,” said Mick Levey, brisquely.

And with that, they dumped on me an old photo album, that most wonderful team photo from ’82, a couple of closely typed bits of paper, then swivelled on their heels and headed for the bar. “See what you can make of that lot Mozza.”

On closer inspection of the photo, peering back 35 years through the mists of time were the faces of others I knew from their “let’s have some fun” expressions. The much-missed John Douglas, a bushy-bearded Tony Bryan and those naughty naughty Kane boys, Peter and Chris… and others I knew by name only Ivor Phillips, Soss’s dad Don Kornrumpf and Skip’s brother Ron who I remember as the only ex player I’ve ever seen ejected from a Derelicts end of season Chinese.

Humf’s potted history conjured up a sense of good times and the sort of energy and enthusiasm generated by something vibrant, new and exciting. In short, the first few years of The Derelicts was like the arrival of a puppy. A big, bouncy, fun-loving puppy… in the process of being house-trained.

“In the late 1970s,” Humf explained, “Doctor Charles Bale joined the South Street Dorking Medical practice. He had played wing forward for the Army, Combined Hospitals and Harlequins. At just over 30, and slightly past his best, he joined Dorking RFC and played for the 1st XV for a couple of years before he had an idea: an idea which would have a lasting impact on the club.

“Why not, he thought, form a Dorking veterans team, everyone over 30, and attract some high calibre players to join it?”

The relentlessly enthusiastic Bale discussed it with some DRFC pals. Peter Moore (a former club captain and Waterloo full back), Malins himself who had played in the 1st XV for a couple of years (having previously hooked for Oxford University and Richmond) and John Milner (a former British Police and DRFC fly half). The idea appealed to them.

“Charlie Bale drove everything forward,” said Humf. “He enticed back on to the pitch former Club captains Mick Levey and Tony Bryan. Several drunken meetings resulted in the name Derelicts being agreed, from a short list which also included Decrepits. Some of the old Ex B fixtures were kept, new ones against similar vets teams – such as the Richmond Heavies and Esher Expendables – were added.”

Between 1980-84 others joining the regulars included The Kanes, Peter Grainger, Howard Fisher, Tony Brown (ex Waterloo), Nick Westbrook, Chris Shearing, Bill Eve, Eddie Marsden, the American Don Kornrumpf, John Douglas and the up and coming Witkowski twins, and an equally up and coming young man called Denis Downes.

“There were also some distinguished outsiders who pulled on the jersey,” says Humf. “Former England winger Mike Bulpitt was a regular for a couple of seasons, while others played on an occasional basis including Bob Phillips (ex Oxford and a Welsh trialist fly-half), Phil Mahon (ex Waterloo and Lancs No 10 and also a DRFC coach), Dougie Boyle (ex Army and Oxford centre) and Pip Young.

Young, who was incidentally my GP when I first moved to the area and indeed just about everybody else’s quack, was a medical partner of Charlie Bale who played fly half or centre for Combined Hospitals and for whom the great Wales and Lions full back JPR Williams was known to turn out from time to time. 

“According to JPR,” says Humf, “Pip was well worth an England cap. And we had other high class ‘occasionals’ including Stuart Maxwell (Richmond and North West Counties winger) who scored two tries in a memorable NW Counties win over the 1972 touring All Blacks, James Aarvold (Richmond back row), Terry Coltham a 6ft 7ins Surrey second row and Alan Behn.

“With our strongest team out, the Derelicts were formidable and at one stage went two seasons with only three defeats, turning out a team most weeks thanks to Charlie Bale’s constant cajoling.”

And there was more. From 1981-84 they toured each year. Magnificently. To Berlin, even beating the UK Army side in the Olympic stadium. To Cyprus for a win over The Cyprus United Nations team, plus hot beaches and skiing in the Troudos mountains and “a chaotic few days in Amsterdam”.

In Amsterdam they found themselves short of a back to play the main local team, so the Derelicts summoned JRC Young, a DRFC member who lived locally, and was by happy chance a former British Lion wing. And until this year’s selection of George Kruis and Elliot Daly, our sole Lion.

“John was then deputy chairman of the Stock Exchange and fortunately in Amsterdam to speak at a major banking convention. Straight after his speech, John crossed the city by taxi at breakneck speed to make kick off… still wearing suede shoes.”

And finally there was a lost tour to Ireland (aren’t they all!) “about which little is remembered due to rather a lot of Guinness”, admits Humf.

“My memory of the Irish tour,” remembers John Milner, “was our hooker (that’ll be you Humf, Ed) being penalised for hooking the ball with his nose rather than his foot! Although that was in the days when hookers did what their name suggests.”

For many years the Derelicts ran an annual golf day, and not just locally. The splendid trophy was played for in Cyprus (“no greens just ‘browns’ “) and Berlin. Tony Bryan and John Milner were among the unlikely winners. And then there was the annual cricket fixture between The Derelicts, captained by Humf, and the Dorking Cricket Club Veterans captained by the legendary former Surrey cricketer John Jones. This always raised a good sum for charity. Our immediate past Club President John Aarvold volunteered on one occasion to open the bowling as he had “once played some beach cricket and got at least a wicket”.

John Milner remembers another American in their ranks,Tom Wacker. Apart from John Douglas he’s the only Derelict, we think, who went along the serious alickadoo path… becoming  the first CEO of the International Rugby Board in the mid 90s and chairman of the Penguin International RFC. He also remembers Eddie Marston, “erstwhile captain who had devastating speed but couldn’t catch the ball. On the odd occasion he managed to catch it, he usually went on to score.”

Humf  adds: “And there are many many more names that deserve mention, too many to mention in fact. And sadly some names forgotten. Characters like John Moxon (ex of Bath) who “idiotically took a 10-minute silent cine film of a totally stationary Band of The Coldstream Guards playing just before the big Cyprus match”. The exotically named Hubert Haundschmidt (an Austrian chef) who played his first game of rugby at Brockham, great former club captain Brian Cutler, Ian Bell, Ivor Phillips, Young Llewellyn, Peter Rollason, policeman Paul Holt and the great Peter Curran, “mentor to us all he claimed after leaving a disgraceful nightclub in Berlin”.

And by the way, John Moxon, Humf says: “That vulgar joke about the gorilla which you began to tell in Cyprus. Can you finish it one day. We are waiting for the punchline still!”

Derelicts origins team
Back row: Ivor Phillips, Humfrey Malins, Tony Bryan, James Dowds, Nick Westbrook, Chris Kane, John Milner, John Douglas, John Moxon. Front rwo: Tony Brown, Peter Moore, Eddie Marsden, Charlie Bale (captain), Peter Kane, Don Kornrumpf, Ron Witkowski