THERE are few sportsmen or women currently active who have been regulars on the sports pages of the Andover Advertiser since the mid 60s but former Wallop man Dean Cresswell certainly fits that bill.
The evergreen multi-sportsman, who will be 61 in March, is still a regular on the football pitch and cricket square as well as playing golf up to four times a week at The Hampshire and Leckford and the occasional game of tennis when times allows. Added to that has been a selection of marathons and it is not difficult to see that Dean is without doubt, as he readily admits “addicted to sport.”
The retired civil servant’s sporting life has been played out all over the world as he was taken to live in Africa and Germany while his father was in the Army then later Dean himself worked in Hong Kong for four years where there were plenty of opportunities to branch out sports wise.
“I was lucky to have lots of leisure time in Hong Kong, said Dean ‘and played club standard cricket in an Army team at weekends, plus there were always football matches on Wednesdays and Sundays. Also tennis is popular over there and I played for the United Services Recreation Club on Wednesday evenings.” Dean was in his late 30s when he returned to Wallop from Hong Kong and briefly flirted with the idea of stopping playing football but more than 20 years later he is still turning out and scoring goals, for Wallop Wanderers in the Andover Sunday League.
“I just can’t stop playing” added Dean, who lives in Colenzo Drive with his wife Paula, “I have been very lucky to have been injury free and am still very fit so I keep playing. “If there were youngsters queuing up to play for Wallop then I would stand aside but there just aren’t the teenagers coming through.”
Many years ago Dean set himself a target to score a goal in five different decades but even that has had to be reviewed as he is still finding the net in the sixth from his midfield role on a Sunday.
“It’s unlikely that I can make it seven decades but you never know” he insisted, possibly only half joking.
It all started in 1967 when Dean made his senior football debut, and predictably scored, for Wallop in the Andover League. From there he had a spell in the Southampton League with Lockerley before linking up with Broughton FC.
After being involved in Nether Wallop Youth FC in the Andover Sunday League, Dean began working in the Civil Service and played for New Street in the now defunct North Hants Senior League alongside the likes of Rob Dunney and Ken Turner in what was a fine side. He then returned to the Andover Saturday League and netted 50 times in one season playing for Dent Hellyer, which brought the chance to have his performance capped with a presentation by Saints player Manny Andruszewski.
In another season Dean scored 61 times for one of many Wallop clubs which have come and gone, a subject which saddens him as there is currently no Saturday football in either village. Dean started a version of Wallop FC with John Andrews, father of Stockbridge stalwart and former Andover and Aldershot man Barry Andrews. “John was one the best headers of a ball I have ever seen, said Dean “and having played alongside him and Barry I am now in the same side as Barry’s son Ben, making three generations.”
Sometime later Dean moved house to Longstock where he was persuaded by Stockbridge manager Dave Webb to sign for the Robins in the Andover Saturday League and he soon ended up as chairman of the club until it was time to move on again when Hong Hong beckoned.
While all that was going on he played regular Army football on Wednesday afternoons as a civilian alongside long term friend Steve Durrans and it was around then that Dean was in the same side as fellow Wallop man Howard Goddard, who went on to a long career in the Football League.
After Hong Kong he returned to live in Wallop and signed again for Stockbridge before forming Wallop OB FC with childhood mate Guy Davis – and his side soon worked its way through the leagues, winning many trophies including the Junior Cup and coming runners-up in the Open Cup and semi-final of the Hants Junior Cup.
One regret from Dean’s astonishing career in football is that the much loved and missed Walled Meadow was not a happy hunting ground. “I played on the Meadow 12 times in cup finals and representative games and lost every single game” he smiled, adding that the only success he had there was when his Stockbridge cub side won a cup. “I scored plenty of goals there but never won a winner’s medal.”
The Portway Stadium was a different matter as he enjoyed success there as a player, making ten appearances over the years. Later again he was playing for another incarnation of Wallop FC, run by his brother, Gary, which left the North Hants for the Andover League where they were in three finals in one season before taking the place of Stockbridge Reserves in the Hampshire League. “That was a nightmare as we had to rope off the pitch, provide catering and make tea for the spectators as well as playing and that was hard going!” he said.
There have been other spells over the years at the likes of Vernham Dean, Vernham Labels and Wyke Down and at one point he was playing three games at weekends for Wallop, Nether Wallop and Broughton plus catch up football at the end of the season which could see him turn out four or five times a week. Nowadays it is with Wanderers that Dean can be found on Sunday mornings at Wallop during the winter while waiting for the warmth of the cricket season.
“I played friendly cricket for Over Wallop before joining George Thruxton CC who later played in the Salisbury League before moving, as Thruxton CC, to the Hampshire League.” Dean recollected, as his remarkable story moved from football to cricket. “Despite being a Thruxton side we have always played at Charlton and there are still one or two of the originals turning out”. Dean is primarily a bowler but takes great delight in his ton, scored many years ago against South Newton, as well as the league win which led to a memorable presentation night at the Rose Bowl.
Now having retired, Dean is rarely off the golf course at either The Hampshire or Leckford, where he plays with old mate Guy Davis and having got his handicap down to nine at one point is currently playing off 12. “I play as often as I can and am one of 16 footballers, past and present, we call ‘Studs and Spikes’ who have gone on a golf tour now for 15 years on the trot. St Pierre in Chepstow is the best course I have ever played on” he added.
Fitness has never been a problem and he has run the St Mary Bourne Marathon seven times and even ran the London Marathon under someone else’s name when they dropped out, in 1996. He is also a strong swimmer and wants to try a mini triathlon as his next challenge, possibly inspired by his son Marc, who he describes as “completely mad” as he has climbed part way up Everest, done Ultra Marathons and is now training for the desert-based Marathon de Sade.
Sporting madness definitely runs in the Cresswell family and Dean is showing no signs of letting up just yet.