Lymington CC was saddened to learn of the death of John Mayman, a great cricket lover, friend of the club and former landlord of the club's one-time winter residence - The White Hart.
In his younger days John was a talented cricketer for his local Bramshaw side before moving to the West Midlands where he played a decent standard of league cricket. Although John never turned out for Lymington, he was a regular spectator at the Sports Ground and a stalwart member of The Elite - the evening side established by Brian Rickman in 1983 to offer a game to those too old, too young or too incapable to get a regular Saturday league match (how times change!). John's stock delivery was the 'ice-ball' - a ball lobbed so high that it would need to be defrosted before the batsman could hit it! In his 42 match career with The Elite the ice-ball gleaned John 30 wickets at an average of 23.03 and he also recorded a highest score of 50 not out with the bat. It was one of this author's proudest moments in cricket when John, upon retirement, handed him his prized Elite cap with the memorable accompanying words: "You might as well have it - it was designed for bald blokes!"
Indeed, John's wicked sense of humour was legendary in the town. As Robin Goff put it: "People would come from miles around to be insulted by Mayman!" But there was rarely, if ever, any malice behind the put downs. Under John's management, the White Hart became a meeting place for the young and old of the town - many of whom were lured by John's ‘flexible' attitude to one or two of the licensing laws. Meg Gannaway remembers the White Hart with particular affection: "It's the place where I started my underage drinking". Now 32, Meg recalls: "I remember I'd been drinking in the Hart for a couple of years and one night I shocked Mayman when I said I wouldn't be coming in the next night as I was playing for the Under 16s!" The famous White Hart lock-ins are also part of Lymington folklore. Often, John would shuffle off to bed and leave the drinkers with the task of setting the alarms and locking up when they eventually decided it was time to stagger home! Despite all this, there was never any trouble at the Hart. As one former barman says: "John used to stand at the end of the bar quietly watching what was going on. Everyone used to respect him and there were never any problems."
Actually, that wasn't strictly true because there was was one regular trouble-maker - John's psychopathic dog Bobby. Dear old Bobby had a thing about chair legs, and would merrily attempt to chew its way through one when given the opportunity. Strangely enough, nobody ever offered to find out if Bobby had the same affection for human legs! One night, a group of drinkers had gathered at the pub to watch Southampton play Spurs on Sky TV (John's one and only concession to the modern pub age). With 90 minutes on the clock Matt Le Tissier stroked home Saints' winning goal to send the pub - and Bobby - absolutely crazy. The deranged dog leaped from behind the bar and proceeded to chew as many chair legs as it could get its fangs on, leaving the customers to watch the end of the match stood on their chairs!
The White Hart became Lymington's unofficial home during the winter months, while during the season Friday nights often became the place where captains would formulate their tactics for the following day's games. Indeed, one can only speculate how many games were actually lost due to the captains formulating their tactics rather too excessively until 4 o'clock in the morning! Lymington's overseas players in particular enjoyed John's hospitality, and in return they would turn out for the White Hart's highly successful six-a-side team in the annual Whitbread Pub Knockout competition. The White Hart team in those days would have given most county sides a run for their money with the team containing the likes of New Zealand Test opener Andrew Jones and South African Peter Williams.
John's familiar cry at closing time was always: "Haven't you lot got any homes to go to?" Now it appears that the Great Landlord in the Sky has finally uttered the same thing to dear old John.
John's funeral takes place at Pennington Church this Thursday at noon. Donations can be made to John's chosen charities including the Lords Taverners.