Letters From England Episode Five-Story Embellishment.


Alan Arnell Sussex Football Legend, who played for Liverpool in the 60’s.

One of the great things about any sort of storytelling, whether it be fiction, or any sort of scriptwriting is it allows for embellishment. Episode five is more or less embellishment of two stories. The first is the completion of the Secret Passage, that I had started in Episode four, called Welcome to England. The passage never happened but where the passage leads to is a rumor I read. I also wanted to include a Football story, which is also completely embellished, or at least some of it. The Football matches with my friends are not that embellished, but this one is and involves the story of a man I call Dennis Baskins, loosely based on a Sussex Football Legend named Alan Arnell.

I had never met Alan, but my Dad may have met him as Ted Walker would take him to Alan’s pub called the Wilkes Head which was in Eastergate. I probably had one of the famed Wilkie Burgers. I remember those. Talk about one of those memories you never forget. They were the most delicious hamburgers I ever had in England. Alan’s pub was around the corner from where I went to school. I may not have met Alan, but I did know his stepdaughter and stepson, who attended Eastergate Primary, Jackie Grant(Later changed her name to Arnell.) and Michael Bielsey. My last year at Eastergate and I began to hear about Alan, through some of my friends, who definitely knew who he was and I learned that he had played football at the professional level.

Alan’s story began in Sussex. He was an alumnus of Chichester High School, something I had just recently learned. Alan cut his teeth with Worthing. Oddly enough Worthing was where I went to the Dentist. Alan was a Striker and had been making a name for himself at the nonleague level scoring bags of goals. In 1953 Liverpool sent a scout down and bingo, they signed him. His debut came against Blackpool in December of 1953 while in the Second Division. Alan scored. However, these appearances were sporadic at best.

He did manage to score 35 goals in 75 matches while filling in for Scots legend Billy Liddle. Realizing he really had no chance with a legend in front of him, Alan asked for a transfer. Bill Shankley offered him up to Tranmere Rovers where scored 34 goals in 68 matches. After his stint with Tranmere Alan went on to Halifax scoring 6 times in 14 matches before finishing his career with Runcorn, another nonleague side. Unfortunately, I don’t have his stats for that club. All in all he netted 75 goals in his pro career, which turned out to be pretty good for a guy who played second fiddle.

After Football, Alan did a number of different things. He ran newsagents and worked as a local Football Scout and as a declaration officer at racecourses.

The scouting aspect of Alan’s life allowed me to do something with one of my Football friends. Enter one Gareth Langemere (Loosely based on two people from my days in England. One is a Footballing chum of mine from days gone by. While the other part of him is loosely based on a boisterous fellow I knew at Chichester, who grew up in a military family. ) The kid that played Football, was probably the most talented player I ever saw. Even at the age of 10, this kid was doing things with a Football that most of us could only dream of. He was technically gifted with his feet, his pace, and that first touch. His first touch just exploded off his feet. He drove us all mad, trying to tackle him. The wonderful thing about this kid is he loved showing you up. He did it with such cheek and with passion and a smile on his face. He was also one of those people you liked being around. Lots of kids looked up to him. There were times, you wanted to scream at him but after he had burned you with some act of brilliance, you couldn’t help but tip your hat off to him.

In this episode, Dennis comes to scout Langmere, but he isn’t there, due to his military dad forbidding him to play Football. (I chose to hang Langmere back a bit. When you do meet him, I want it to be memorable. The memorable story is based on this other person I knew at Chichester. The day I met that kid was something I will never forget. That Episode is coming. I have two possible titles, The Queen of England. Or maybe it’s going to be the Bloody Queen of England.) When a dispute breaks out about letting the new kid Ned Captain, Dennis pipes up from the sidelines. The kids all become excited. To them, Dennis is a pop star. They ask him if he is going to give them pointers. Dennis says he might, but he would prefer to referee the match if they allow Ned to Captain one of the sides. I haven’t finished this scene yet and it is where I have left off.

This has been an interesting episode to write. I particularly like the passage story because I added some thrills into what happens. Then there is the Football scene and I have added some interesting characters that I played Football with. Being able to take two stories and embellish them just enough makes the episode interesting.

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