A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Rest in Peace, John Lambkin

Obituary by Graham Robertson.

JOHN LAMBKIN 1934-2024

It is with a great sadness that Holcombe Hockey Club have to announce the passing of its oldest and longest-serving member John Lambkin just a few weeks following his 90th birthday.

John first played for the club back in 1950 whilst still at school. He played his first official game in the 1951/52 season when the club had only the one XI. His prime position was in goal.

I have received many little anecdotes about John, but one from Mick Willis made me chuckle. John was an apprentice at De Havilland which was a prestigious aircraft company and so, in Mick’s words, ‘John was no dummy’. Er, he went on to play in goal! Mick and John went to the same youth club and that’s where they met their respective girlfriends who they went on to marry. John was Mick’s best man some 64 years ago.

John was a regular 1st XI player until 1969. In all that time, he only missed a few games while doing his National Service. After catching German Measles in 1969, it gave yours truly my chance at first-team level. John continued in the 2nd XI and then gradually moved down the club, playing then as a full back. He totalled some 673 appearances as a player and umpire. His son Ian continued this legacy by playing for the club on 263 occasions

John was all you would ever want as a club member – friendly, loyal and passionate about the club. This passion continued until his final days at the nursing home in Newington. His wife Yvonne was always supportive, often providing the post-match teas. They would hold a Chairman’s evening at their home where they would serve a glass of wine or the odd can of Courage light ale. Heady days!

We did move on from that by sharing a bottle of Glenfiddich at the Dinner and Dance. He had been in the past Chairman, Secretary, Social Secretary, and later on at Pattens Lane, head groundsman. John, along with Micky Russell spent hours turning a piece of rough stony ground into our first home-grown pitch. It was a team effort building our clubhouse at Pattens Lane and I can still see John riding on his mower whilst we were digging drainage trenches, putting tiles on the roof or all the other jobs that came with the building of our first official home.

John had by now retired from playing but his passion continued. This dedication was rewarded by him being invited to open our latest premises at Holcombe Park. John continued to work at the club alongside myself, Evan Lewis, Ray Baker and Keith Martin doing all those jobs that come with maintaining two astros and a clubhouse. We had many a laugh, but I will never forget turning up for my first trial with Old Holcombeians as a fresh faced 16-year-old in 1964 and being introduced to the incumbent 1st X1 goalkeeper. It was a friendship that would last over 60 years.

John was loved by everyone at the club and his presence will always be felt there. I can still picture him on the terraces berating the 1st XI defence when they were passing the ball from side to side at the back. “The bloody goal’s at the other end”, John would shout. Along with everybody else, I will miss him terribly.

John’s funeral will be on Wednesday, 15th May, at 2pm at Bobbing and then back at the club. 

Ian has asked that if you want to do something for John then flowers are fine but they would prefer donations to Demelza House. John helped out there for a while doing the gardens.