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Our parish churches and chapels – St Richard’s (and School), Our Lady of the Assumption, Nutbourne and Selsey - owe their existence to the inspiration and zeal of parishioners who, for twenty four years,gave up their Saturday nights out to run a football pool that raised more than three quarters of a million pounds – and rewarded ticket holders with more than three hundred thousand pounds in prize money.
The fascinating story is told, with new detail, by Trevor Tupper. We are grateful to Fr Terence McLean Wilson, a former promoter of the pool for providing revised details.
Trevor Tupper (now of St Peter's) is the survivor of a large team, who were determined to work to provide a new church, replacing the nineteeenth century church in Chichester, endowed by the countess of Newburgh, which was far too small for the fast-growing parish - so latecomers to Mass had to stand outside in the street, rain or shine, to attend Mass. Trevor was then a schoolboy but became involved with the new venture when he was 18 in 1958.
Trevor, seen here with Fr Fox (Later, Bishop of Menevia), recalls that he became the second treasurer.
After years of inactivity, an enterprising new Parish Priest, Father Tak (from Holland) was appointed in December 1955 and straightaway identified possibilities and priorities even with little money in the coffers. Archive records show that, in a burst of activity, he sold unneeded parish assets, acquired and sold land and had earmarked a site for a new church in The Hornet, but had insufficient money to fulfill his aspirations for the parish. The existing school, in St Paul’s Road, also needed a new site.
Father Tak was offered a land swap by the District Council which wanted the Hornet site and would provide a field for church and school at Cawley Road, on land used for horticulture. But where would the money to build it come from?
A newcomer, Phil Jukes, who was a diocesan fund rasiser, suggested starting a football pool.
Football pools were in their heyday and there was no national lottery. Other parishes had made the running, in a small way. Fr Tak was quick to grasp the possibilities for an enthusiastic parish and published a trailblazing newsletter saying "there would be a football pool". At a key meeting in the Assembly Rooms, (remembered by Trevor and Joe Holmes) he challenged the parish to help. And in 1957 the pool was launched. The young Trevor Tupper joined the veterans for the next twenty four years.
It is notable that Fr Tak laid out an ambitious strategy for parish development - churches at Bosham, Selsey, Southbourne (actually at Nutbourne) as well as Chichester, but once the church at Chichester was built he was swiftly transferred to another parish to make his mark there. His successor, Fr Fox, was able to carry out the grand plan.
In our Jubilee year, Maria Whitehouse, organiser of the Event lunches, invited Trevor to give us the inside story of the pool; members were reminded that, but for the efforts of the football pool team with Trevor as Treasurer we would not be celebrating our golden jubilee. This was Trevor’s first talk about the project and he described this complex operation.
Trevor picked up the story by recalling Fr Tak's uncompromising efforts to stimulate higher giving by the parishioners.
Trevor : “One day Fr Tak’s theme was 'pennies in the collection': he hated them. At one 11 o’clock Mass he looked at the plate and threw it at the congregation! He was an enthusiastic supporter of the football pool. Phil Dukes, who had proposed it, was, I think, American or he might have been Canadian: he sounded like Lloyd Grossman- a bit of a live wire, and he knew about football pools. On arrival, Fr Tak vigorously encouraged supporters to come forward. He said: "We want collectors! I was eighteen and debarred by the church from taking part (you had to be 18) but I paid my shilling to Jack McPeake and I remember that in that first week we sold 1,400 tickets at a shilling each. (At the School we had several members of staff and students as members. Many years later, as a civil servant, I did some calculations (based on the Treasury Gross Domestic Product deflator, which was part of my job at one time ) and worked out that a shilling then was worth 97 pence now so people were paying a pound a ticket as they do now for the lottery (but with the lottery you might win a few million).
The second week in September 1957 was the fourth week of the season: it ran until the end of April, unlike now, when it seems to run all the year round or so it seems. In that second week we doubled the number. Within two or three weeks there were 70-80- collectors and by the end of the year, within three months they were selling 7,000 tickets a week”.
Brian Taylor (formerly Chairman of the Building maintenance committee recalls:"You just 'had to' belong to the Pool: driving it all was Phil Jukes with Gerry Jannece (and Lotte in support), Gerry Pierce, Ted Bailey and the first Treasurer, Dick Kirkham". The pool rapidly expanded, and up went the new church building – in faith that funding would follow.
The Committee of three included Ted Bailey (shown above, RIP 2006), Gerry Pierce, and Trevor Tupper. Gerry Jannece was a paid secretary to the pool.
Trevor referred to the exhibition board showing the collectors’ names: "Number 74 - Michael Timlick, (in the audience) you must be an 'original', because they're all numbered in sequence and by the time I was old enough, I was collector no. 190. Within a year there were 190 collectors : We paid out two prizes.
"I should explain to you - those who were too young to remember! - that the football pool involved having three numbers which matched three football teams which changed weekly- printed on the sheet and there were two prizes, one for the three teams with the highest combined total of goals for the three teams with the lowest combined total which is zero - If I remember rightly Portsmouth was always one of those teams (laughter) and in those days there were football teams that some people have probably forgotten such as Accrington Stanley -now reborn after I helped wind it up as an insolvent company when I was working for the government.”
It was noted that the wall chart at the exhibition, some years in, showed that the rules were quite complex - there was a first dividend and eventually there was a fifth dividend and to find the fifth dividend, you had to use the Daily Mail and you had to work out from the letters whether you were a winner or not. Did Trevor remember how to do it?
Trevor: “Let me give you some background- the original aim was to get a big prize - limited in those days to £100 maximum and we were desperate to pay out £100 and it took about three months. By that time the sum coming in must have exceeded 250 pounds - nearer 300 because whatever we raised half went in prizes and half went to the church. The first prize took 60% of the total so we were anxious to get to that hundred. We paid out the first hundred pounds early in 1956 and £100 pounds then was worth 150 pounds now.
It was worth having; after a while we sold so many tickets that we were paying out so much on the first prize that we getting close to £100 on the second prize, so we introduced a third one and a fourth one and a fifth one because we wanted a daily prize, so various committee members sat around and thought of clever things.
Gerry Pierce - a name you may remember - a policeman - who caused excitement by coming into the office in his uniform - he came up with this idea of using the Daily Mail which had a comment column on the front page in those days. It had the advantage that you didn’t have to buy a paper - you could lean over and see some else's - you had to read the first three words of the text and it was the first three letters of the three words and on the results sheets each letter had a number Very few people ever understood it in practice and in fact few people understood how the prizes worked. Because I remember the first time I had a 100 pound prize winner on my book I wandered round with his cheque and he had no idea he'd won. Some people checked their ticket but most people didn't bother, it was quite complicated, they trusted us. The other thing at the end we were selling 14,850 tickets a week. We couldn't sell more than 15,000 or we would be breaking the law. 14,000 tickets every week - they were paying a pound a week (shilling a week then ) to some one they may have known or may not have known. They trusted us. Most of them were not Catholics. Most of our collectors were Catholics but a very large number were not Catholics."
"A lot of that goes down to the first priest-promoter, Father Sexton (shown on the left, with Fr Tak and Fr Wilson) - who had a marvellous way of recruiting people - generally in the local hostelries I think, (laughter) he got 150 members for the first year.”
Trevor –“When it got to the summer, Phil Dukes advised having a break, but that probably would have been disastrous because after 8 weeks you would have to try to get them back. I was slightly involved and there was a lot of discussion. Gerry Pierce said "why don't we use the Australian football because the main football pools did "-so we did and it was quite a tricky thing. One thing was the results - for the English the system we had - Gerry and Lotte there with their portable radio and listening to Sports Report, (presented by Eamonn Andrews) duly recording the result, and I was at home in the study doing the same thing, working out the prize numbers and I tore over here on my bike to see if we agreed. And we also had Gerry Pierce doing it at home so we had a three way thing to make sure we agreed the numbers. That started up at 4.30 on a Saturday - we sat down to go through - all the members were recorded in ledgers which grew in size as the years went on. We made sure that the numbers corresponded with the tickets sold,
We had Eileen Molloy typing the teams out to start with, on a sheet and as the details came in she filled it out with the winners and I was one of the printers who sat there and printed it off. When I started printing in 1957 we were printing 8 thousand sheets a week; by 1962/3 were printing 15,000. We did it in the school - the paper was stored in and around the presbytery - anywhere you could find a hole to put it in. Because when we started, the paper came down from a firm in London - that Phil Dukes knew, obviously, and they used to deliver every two or three weeks - a lot of sheets kicking around. You can imagine then the old presbytery didn't have any room and it was all over the place - but once we got over here we put some in the sacristy.”
We had two Gestetner machines, one initially, but it wasn't enough; we always had electric machines, no wind up ones, and they would print about thirty sheets a minute. We used skins (stencils), as we called them, to type the results - they didn't last - they were guaranteed to print a thousand copies but we were looking for 7 or 8 thousand copies. They would break up and they used to ask me to type another, or whoever was there . We were there almost till midnight - we had collectors there standing at the door demanding sheets: we eventually had three machines two Gestetners and a Roneo.”
“The money came in on a Friday evening; we used to spend our time printing out bulletins - we never used the old school, we were there all day Saturday. we used a tacky old room in the presbytery; as soon as the school was ready we moved there for a very short time; we used the two rooms just inside the presbytery here. We were in there very early 1959. We had two night safe bags; one went on a Friday and one on a Saturday. and one of my jobs Saturday was to pick up the Friday bag and it was somebobody else's job in the week to pick up the other. I didn't get involved until 1957; we couldn't have managed the pool without the rooms here.
It was a huge job, maintaining the pool, because every member had a card - a two part card - half they gave to the member half they gave back to the office, that was recorded in a register. we started off with cash books; we had 20 of these at one time and then we decided to go into loose leaf binders- so we had two huge loose leaf binders and we all took time to take the old books home with us and one binder and fill out these sheets. I was lucky because I was at school and had "nothing else to do". We gradually transferred to these two binders, so heavy that only three or four of us could actually lift them up and all the records were kept in those. The cards were kept in little drawers, eventually we bought a cabinet that took 24 drawers and put that on the trolley and pushed that across the road between the presbytery and the school. We would push it over on a Friday and push it back on a Saturday. We got a proper trolley, a heavyweight job. Then in the winter of 1962 it snowed very heavily: there was a foot of snow between here and the presbytery and the trolley got caught between the two buildings and there were three of us and two police manhandling it!
(Above) Fr Fox is shown with the first treasurer, Dirk Kirkham, whom Trevor recalls was the principal collector in Selsey (No. 14) .
We filled in paying slips and money was paid into the church account - Natwest I think, and that was the last we saw of it. We didn't sit down - at the end I was described as Treasurer and Treasurers know ins and outs but the church in those days - you paid in and never knew, never saw bank statements; we had a cheque book where we wrote out the prize winners' names, but only a parish priest could sign a cheque. We never ever saw how much we'd raised - although I kept a running total.”
The pool attracted media attention.
On October 25th, 1959 The Sunday Express headline put the limelight on the football pool.
Again, in 1960 a London News Agency featured the Chichester Pools Phenomenon. The young Tevor Tupper was photographed "selling" a ticket to Mary Dunnaway, who in fact was the acting housekeeper. (Trevor left school and commuted to the Chelsea College of Advanced Technology for 3 years, but continued collecting – several of the students there were members. Then he joined the Civil service in the Inland Revenue Department, but weekends were devoted to the Football Pool. )
Trevor was asked "In 1962 you had seen the opening of the church at Selsey. Did you have a special celebration?
“Not really: Selsey expected something to happen. When this pool started, Selsey had only about four or five collectors, unlike Chichester where there was a definite incentive to grow, it was not quite so strong at Selsey, Once the church was built collectors appeared from everywhere- Hopefully in recognition of what we had done.
We knew we were raising lots of money. St Richard’s church cost about £75,000 to build plus a contribution to the school.. We brought in about £350 a week - £12,000 a year in today's money. The church was paid for pretty quickly. We went on to look at other needs.
In 1959 Fr fox arrived. Fr Fox was a SPENDER! (laughter), I remember sitting there, he said "you’ve got a lot of money in the bank, I think we should decorate the church.” You remember how it was when it started - it was a bit a barren. It was better than the other one. He had this grand plan and he spent a fortune."
Q. Did people care about football.? "We didn't care about football - We were dealing with Australian football All these teams were printed out but people didn't know what they were. There were two groups of people - those who wanted to give money to the church and those who wanted to win money. Most people thought we were doing a great job - even non Catholics; they thought we were doing something good - we doing something for the baths. They came in about 1959 - we welcomed them because we didn't think we'd ever get to the 15,000 because if we had we would be breaking the law. We stopped actively recruiting members; we went into a gradual decline, still getting a lot of money. We were then approached by the swimming pool committee (those of you from Chichester may remember they had no swimming pool; they had the Gaumont, that I remember from Saturday morning pictures). The Gaumont had been bought and they thought the conversion money would turn up; they approached us - they had several collectors and they got their fair share - we took nothing off them - the football pool raised several thousand pounds for their pool.
Charlie Newell, the former mayor of Chichester, asked if they could come in for Chichester old people's day centre- it was called their centre, now the Newell centre - everyone knew Charlie. so we took them in."
" We were approached by Petworth, Midhurst and Slindon parishes because they had needs, so we took them on as well; at one time we were running the pool for St Richard's parish which at that time covered the Witterings, Selsey, Bosham as well as Chichester, and helping the other causes as well".
It was recalled that parish togetherness was fostered by the weekly meetings of collectors, the Saturday night result collecting and ticket printing volunteers.
Trevor - "We had very happy times - when Fr Tak was here he was very careful with money - and careful about spending it."
" When Fr Fox arrived we had an annual dinner for promoters - end November early December. The very first one was at the Shore hotel in East Wittering, but later dinners were at the Embassy ballrom at Selsey – as it was the only place large enough to take the five hundred or so people at those meals.
Just to show how strong the pool was, those dinners took out just £400, two weeks of collecting. We also had a little pools party on the lst Saturday before Christmas and at the 1963 party we presented Fr Fox with a beetle wig, worn in the picture by Fr Vincent Maxwell, assistant priest at Chichester, later, first PP at Selsey when it became independent . (this noted by Julia Janiec)"
" As the years went by other things came along; people lost interest. Some people passed on and then in 1981 we were down to 6,000 members; the committee were fairly worn out and we decided to wind it up. We raised three quarters of a million pounds - in today’s money 17 million pounds. What we raised was huge: without that we wouldn't be here.”
Trevor later served on the administrative side of the Inland Revenue for 37 years, mainly at Somerset House in London. For his last 20 years he was responsible for financial management in the Department, including control of its £2.5 Billion budget and, of course, he says he had a good grounding in this in his role with our Pool! Trevor was appointed OBE in 1995, is now a parishioner at St Peter’s and active in community affairs. A lifelong other interest has been in railways, but occasionally he is seen afloat.