The Gondoliers were formed in 1970 and, when one third of the Old Cranleighian defence retired, a certain W.A.Comyn took his place. To be honest, I was not sure at first whether the Skipper had picked the right man, as "Bill" didn't exactly portray the most athletic of looks. How wrong I was, as in no time at all, he displayed an adept knowledge of the game, always seemed to be in the right position, and knew exactly when and where to pass the ball. Week after week he produced the sort of reliable performance that I, for one, admired.
But it was "Bill's" off the field presence that really excelled. He had an engaging way of making light of almost any situation. During the dark economic days of the 70's, the Gondoliers could occasionally be seen as an old and grumpy bunch (yes, even then). As soon as Bill arrived, all troubles were thrown to the wind as his infectious humour, spontaneous wit and optimism took hold. He was appointed "kitty master", and throughout his period of office, I cannot remember a time when we actually ran out of funds. There were many occasions when the cry would go up "oh, don't worry, the kitty will pay", and it did. To this day I'm sure that Bill helped it along with the odd personal donation, which underlined his endearing generosity. Many will recall after a game, the "kitty master's jug" which never seemed to empty.
I was lucky enough to get to know him, as he always took a keen interest in what I was doing, which was far removed from his corporate world of Banking. If you had a problem, he would listen and then advise. You couldn't describe it as a discussion, more like a visit to the doctor, as he seemed so sure of what he was saying. I know there are others who experienced the same help and advice from a man who really knew what he was talking about. It didn't stop there, as he would ask me to join him for golf during his busy weekly schedule, sometimes I think just to make sure his advice was being taken!
You could think that Bill had an easy life, but it was far from that. He had a lot of personal issues to deal with, which he did in his own selfless way. He managed to juggle his family life, a stressful career in banking, golf and hockey, with complete success and without complaint. It was with some sadness that I learned of his retirement to Cornwall, as it would mean that I probably would not see him again, and so it turned out. However, I do know that he was extremely fortunate to meet his partner Vicky, with whom he spent the rest of his life. Gondolier golfers visited Perranporth every year, where they were met with a happy and contented friend.
There are a lot of people out there who's lives would have been the poorer if they had not known Bill. I shall miss his favourite phrase "not three bad", which pretty much says it all.