Les Fell's memories


Les initially played for Margate in the 1930's during the Arsenal 'nursery' years and then returned to the club for the 1954/55 season, he also played for Charlton in the 1946 FA Cup Final...

Les with his wife Vi in April 2003

What is your full name and date and place of birth ?
Leslie James Fell - 16th December 1920 - Leytonstone, London.

What is your marital Status?
Married to second wife Vi (Violet) since 1966, first wife deceased.

Do you have children ?
Son Alan (who lives in Portugal) and daughter Linda, Vi has two daughters Jill and Sylvia (who lives in the USA).

Did / do any of your family play football ?
No, but my father took a keen interest in my career.

Where do you live now ?
Wigmore, near Gillingham in Kent.

What is your occupation now ?
Retired but still do some casual book keeping work.

What was your occupation during your time with Margate ?
In the 1930's I ran the office of a Heating Engineering firm called Hewson & Brook in Cliftonville. In the 1950's I was a Layout Draughtsman for Swifts, based at Rochester Airport.

How did you come to join Margate ?
My initial spell with the club began after Margate manager Jack Lambert wrote to my father in the 1930's, asking me to go along to training. Then in the summer of 1954 Almer Hall wrote to me after he'd heard I was going to be released by Crystal Palace.

What do you remember about your Margate debut ?
Nothing in particular but I can vividly recall breaking my collar bone in a game against Erith - one of my first matches for Margate.

What were the highlights of your Margate career ?
Playing in the first team with all the Arsenal players when aged just 16.

What were the highlights of your entire career ?
The 1946 FA Cup semi-final - Charlton beat Bolton 2-0 at Villa Park in front of a crowd of 69,500 and I set up the first goal. The 1946 FA Cup Final was also obviously a highlight but the fact that Charlton lost (4-1 to Derby after extra time - attendance at Wembley 98,215) made the semi final more memorable. Another early highlight was playing for Kent Schoolboys at Sunderland's Roker Park.

Which player did you most enjoy playing with at Margate ?
Centre-forward Fred Durant.

Who was the best player you played against whilst with Margate ?
Nobody that I can remember.

Which player did you most enjoy playing with during your whole career ?
Riley Cullum, an inside right at Charlton. I played many games with him, mainly in Charlton's reserves, and we had a really good understanding.

Who was the best player you played against during your whole career ?
Sir Stanley Matthews - I once saw him 'dummy' two Charlton defenders so well that both of them ended up running off the pitch whilst Stan went off in the other direction !

Who was / were your best friend(s) during your time with Margate ?
Probably Jack Yeomanson, we went to school together.

Do you still keep in contact with any of your old Margate team-mates ?

What was the best stadium you played in during your entire career ?
Benfica's stadium in Portugal - it was carved out of the side of a hill and looked very impressive. The flight out there took five hours and I was air sick all the way !

What ground(s) did you most enjoy playing at during your time at Margate ?
Dover was quite good - they played on the lower pitch at Crabble then.

And which ground(s) did you least like ?
None in particular.

Who was the best manager you played under (and at which club) ?
Jimmy Seed at Charlton.

Who was the biggest influence on your football career ?
Probably Billy Graham who was my Maths and PE teacher at Margate Boys Central School and also chairman of Margate FC.

What was your favourite / best Margate goal ?
Can't really remember.

What was the favourite / best goal of your career ?
In a game for Charlton Reserves against Arsenal Reserves at Highbury - I cut inside and hit a shot from outside the penalty area. Dennis Compton, who played for England at cricket and football, was playing on the left wing for Arsenal and as I returned to my place on the right wing for the restart he said to me "that was a good 'un" !

What was the best goal you saw another Margate player score ?
Don't remember.

Do you keep an eye on Margate's progress / results and if so what do you think ?
Yes, I always look out for their results and watch Sky Sports football coverage on a Saturday afternoon. I'm pleased to see them doing so well.

Did you have a nickname during your career / time at Margate?
I was sometimes called "Lightning Les" or "The Pimpernel".

What honours did you win during your career ?
FA Cup runners-up medal 1946 and various London league titles with Charlton Reserves.

Do you ever watch Margate now or if not, when was the last time you saw them ?
The last game I watched as a supporter was during the 1936/37 season, the year before I started playing for the club ! I watched Margate regularly after moving to the town in 1930 and sold programmes as a boy.

Who were the real characters at Margate during your time with the club ?
Nobody that I can remember.

Can you recall any funny moments from your time at Margate ?
Not really.

Do you have any regrets about your football career ?
Probably dropping out of the first team at Charlton after World War II.

What do you think about being featured on a website or the fact that a Margate History site exists ?!
It's very good and it's nice to see somebody taking an interest.

Added to the site in 2003. Les died aged 89 on 9th October 2010.