Mr Key’s Postbag

A letter arrives in Mr Key’s postbag:

Sir : I find it promptly tricky that during your latest musings on the life of Danny Blanchfowler, you failed to mention Dobson’s seminal pamphlet on the history and origins of the Fred Jessop Cup On the history and origins of the Fred Jessop Cup (out of print).

I happened upon this pamphlet by chance in the August of 1987, whilst attending a car boot sale in Swivenhoe, as my life then mainly consisted of scouring car boots in the vein hope of unearthing a Penny Black. I was, anyway, passing uninterested by tens and tens of jalopies full to their brims with tat their owners were peddling: old lampshades, coloured rock, Ladybird books, copper barometers, worn out bicycle tyres, Clarice Cliffe, rusty automata, dog-shaped humidors, dirty vestas and assorted treen. One car boot though was devoid of tat, save for a box filled with yellowing paperbacks and crumpled ordnance survey maps. Having a penchant for ordnance surveys of the Upper Mendips, I had a rummage, and there, sandwiched in between The Viper of Hunstanton: A Grant Panama Mystery and Ordnance Survey Map number 216: Statton-on-Fosse to Lydford-on-Fosse, lay Dobson’s out of print pamphlet.

I snatched it from the box with great gusto, and upon examination of its condition, promptly haggled the slovenly oaf manning the car boot down to thruppence and a glimpse at my prized Cuckoo’s egg, for purchase of the pamphlet.

Upon returning to my hovel, I quickly consumed the contents of the pamphlet – savouring every moment, as respite from the squalid little life I led at the time. It is what I then unearthed, ‘neath its tattered pages, for which I am bothering to pester you.

Quoth Dobson:

“the Fred Jessop cup, awarded once a year to the winners of the Fred Jessop Cup association football competition, has several peculiar mysteries surrounding it – not least, the matter of it’s disappearance in 1966, the year it was won by Crackling Northwich. The 1965/66 season had gone splendidly well for Crackling Northwich, a team made up of workers from De Bruuin’s bulb factory. This small town club used to the monotonous pinch and shove of the Rumbelow’s Division Four (North) had, under the guidance of Keswick De Bruuin, who acted as their team coach, chairman, janitor, physiotherapist, coach driver, notary and keeper of the club mascot (a rather disgruntled Kittiwake called Margaret), achieved a miraculous cup run. Keswick’s team had battled their way past the Wigan Black Bull, Alsager Fare, and Hove Young Offender’s Institute in the early rounds.

Then, after drawing a plum tie away to Tooting Mantrap (one of the larger teams in their day), Crackling Northwich won through into the Semi-Final of the Fred Jessop Cup. Winning eighteen nil, with champion booter Carlo Weinnacht scoring a personal best of two. On the day of the draw at the football association headquarters in Sloane Square, withering old twit and head of the association, Herbert Drutt, took to the stage with an air of discomfort and a startled look upon his chelonian features. He proceeded to announce to the watching masses that the pride and joy of the association, the Fred Jessop Cup, had been pilfered from its resting place in the boardroom, betwixt the case demonstrating the various plumage phases of the mallard in eclipse and the portrait of the Prime Minister remonstrating offside with the bosch during the annual World War One Recreational Trench Warfare and Football picnic.

Suspicion fell immediately upon Keswick De Bruuin, who had previous for the theft of an elderly Boltonian twenty years hence, and for whom the Fred Jessop Cup represented a golden opportunity for some scrap metal smelting. Keswick, naturally in denial, retreated to his hotel room with the entire Northwich Crackling squad, and was not heard from again until three days later when the news broke that the cup had been found. A part-time bomb disposal officer, Wally Sandwich, had been walking his collie, Sniffles, around the outskirts of a disused children’s recreational area, when the dog had indicated the need to answer nature’s call by giving Wally an uncomfortable glance. Hurrying over to a swing, Wally saw metal glinting and gleaming from underneath a climbing frame. When he went to investigate, there, crudely wrapped in a soiled copy of Razzler, was the Fred Jessop Cup in all its unerring glory.

Three weeks later, Crackling Northwich were to defeat Rutland Water three goals to two, allowing their captain, Nobby Blanchfowler to lift the Fred Jessop Cup in front of his adoring audience and the onlooking paparazzo. To this day, no one has ever solved the mystery of the Fred Jessop Cup snatch, and Keswick De Bruuin never spoke of it again, meeting his untimely death at the hands of a fraudulent psychic some two years later.”

I wonder Sir, whether the Nobby Blanchfowler referred to therein is a relative, however distant, of footballing prometheus Danny Blanchfowler?

I eagerly await your reply.

Yours, in the bath,

Colonel Philomena Crow


Well, Colonel, I can confirm that Nobby Blanchfowler was indeed the twin brother of Danny Blanchfowler. Indeed, so close were the twins that they shared the same neck. Further information on this rare medical condition can be found in the song “Charlie And Charlie” on Slapp Happy’s album Acnalbasac Noom. I ought to point out, however, that the Fred Jessop Cup bears no relation whatsoever to the similarly-named Fred Jesson Cup, as mentioned in Danny Blanchfowler : A Life In Football. The latter trophy, of course, bears the name of the fantastically exciting husband of Laura Jesson, played by Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter (1945).

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