TRIBUTE TO JOHN LUDLAM

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Former Hoops player John Ludlam, who died recently at the age of 76, was a gifted sporting all-rounder and a “larger than life” character into the bargain. During his sporting career John played football, cricket, rugby and golf for various clubs but enjoyed his most success in terms of winning medals while wearing the Hoops’ colours, and where he earned the nickname of “Slugger” because of his tough-tackling defensive style. John was a member of the Hoops’ team which won the Greater London League Cup in 1968 by beating East Ham Utd 2-1 after extra-time in the final. The Deal team in those days was made up almost entirely of local players and John played alongside the likes of Barry Brown, Clive Cavell, “Tosher” Brown, Roy Carr and the Prior brothers, “Tippy” and Ray. Keith Robinson, who was also in that cup-winning team, recalled: “When Barry, ‘Tosher’ and myself first played for Deal early on in our careers John was always ready to act as our ‘minder’ on the pitch, and he didn’t take any nonsense from anybody!”. Then in the early 1970s John, who away from the sports field ran his own estate agency, became player-manager of the Deal Town Reserve side and in the 1972-73 season he led the team to a terrific “treble” as they won the Kent Amateur League, the Kent Amateur League Cup and the Kent Intermediate Cup. Also in the Hoops’ reserve side at that time was current Charles Ground chairman Dave Chmura, who said: “The East Kent Mercury report of the Intermediate Cup final was headlined ‘Ludlam’s heroes’ which was absolutely right because John was a great influence on all the players in the team.” But if football was the sport in which John achieved his most success, it was on the cricket field where his colourful personality had the biggest opportunity to shine. He played for Walmer, Deal Victorians and Deal Wanderers at various times and Keith Alvey, one of John’s team-mates when he played for Wanderers, recalls: “John was a leg-spinner and his pre-delivery routine, known as the ‘Ludlam Lick’, used to reduce even the most experienced of batsmen to tears and some teams even refused to play us unless we agreed beforehand that John and Richard “Tub”Green, who was another great character, wouldn’t bowl in tandem!” Geoff Alvey, Keith’s brother, added: “I first met John on our first day at South Deal Primary School. He was a kind, bumbling, lovable kid and over the ensuing 71 years that I knew him I don’t think he ever changed that much. “In addition to his all-round sporting prowess John possessed that rare quality of being someone who everyone liked even though he did a lot of daft things, and I can recall so many incidents which even now still make me laugh out aloud. “There was the time when his Mini ended up in a hole in roadworks outside the School of Music, or when he demonstrated how he would save me from a blazing building by clambering onto scaffolding outside the old Queens Hotel, even though it wasn’t on fire and I didn’t need to be rescued! That was John all over, and you just sort of went along with him.” Returning to his prowess on the sports field, “Slugger” also played full-back for Deal Wanderers Rugby Club in the late 1960s before that particular pastime was cut short by a severe shoulder injury, but that didn’t prevent John from continuing to swing a golf club to great effect. He achieved a single-figure handicap and at Broome Park GC, where he was a member, John’s name is on the clubhouse “honours board” for scoring two holes-in-one. So there are more than enough reasons why John deserves to be called a “gifted sporting all-rounder” and the final word goes to another of his life-long friends, former Walmer FC footballer Willie Marshall, who helped considerably in the production of this article. Willie said: “John was a tough, uncompromising sportsman but he was always the first person to offer to buy you a drink in the bar afterwards, and he will be missed by many people.“

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One Comment

  • Very sad to hear the news of John’s death, I played cricket with John, Geoff and Tub Green at Walmer and Deal Wanderers before I emigrated to Australia. I also signed John to Deal Town when I was involved on the committee.

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