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Amateur Football in East and West Sussex in the 1890s

by Paul Wreglesworth 4 February

Letter from Southwick to New Zealand (1899)
Return Letter from New Zealand to Southwick (1899)
The Yarn
Southwick is Famous For?

I have acquired an envelope sent from Southwick to Auckland, New Zealand in 1899. It is addressed to Oswald Mayall from his mother, Celia Victoria Mayall. She was the second wife of John Jabes Edwin Mayall who was a renowned photographer.
The envelope is covered with doodles and writing and has been re-used by Oswald to write back to his mother. It is a busy cover.
There is a lot of information on the web regarding the Mayall family. Oswald did not live in New Zealand for very long, moving to Australia and then Hawaii where he seems to have spent most of his life. He doesn’t appear to have married and I have been unable to find out when/where he died. If anyone can help with that I would be very grateful.

However there is some writing (“A Yarn”) on the cover which I have deciphered as best I can [scan attached]. As follows:

I’ve heard a yarn to Zealand borne
Of Wickers gone to swell
The Hovites ranks and Worthings team
Surely the yarns a sell

Another yarn that Wick has scratch’d
To Bognor’s little lot
It can’t be done although tis match’d
By tale of Western pot

This latter news is worst of all
What! Strike to second raters
If true poor Wick’s have had a fall
Or else turned football haters

Were the 1890s a turbulent period for local amateur football teams in East and West Sussex? Did the appearance of Brighton’s first professional team around this time cause better amateur players in the area to leave their local clubs.

“Wickers” was a nicknmae for Southwick FC (Oswald’s home town). Were players leaving to join teams in Hove (Hovites) and Worthing? “By Tale of Western pot” – is this a reference to players being paid to play in West Sussex?

There are other images and phrases. You will see Oswald was not impressed with Auckland!

If anyone can hlep in interpreting the “Yarn”, or any of the other scribbles on this envelope. Does it relate to football in Sussex in the 1890s? Or tell me more about Oswald Mayall specifically then I would be delighted to hear from them.

Southwick U3A History Group have had a look at the cover but were unable to add anything further.