Sat, 25 May, 2024

Alan ‘Wally’ Watkins

Posted: July 17th, 2023

FORMER Sporting Life copytaker ALAN “WALLY” WATKINS died on July 14 [2023], aged 76. Funeral details: 10am, Wednesday, August 9, Southend Crematorium, 285 Sutton Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 5PX, and afterwards at Clatterfield Gardens, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 0AU. Further tributes and donations to Diabetes UK can be made here:

Paul Duffett, unofficial Sporting Life welfare officer: Our good friend and colleague ALAN “WALLY” WATKINS died on July 14 [2023], aged 76. After many comebacks from numerous falls, a stroke and other diabetes-related conditions, he had been in a nursing home for about a year due to complications arising from his condition. Alan finally succumbed and died peacefully.

Alan was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teenager, and had to inject insulin daily thereafter, but it never dampened his enthusiasm for life. As well as being an extremely popular member of staff, he was also a very good sportsman and a regular in The Sporting Life football team. Wally’s wife Molly said his passing “was expected, but still a shock”. Alan and Molly celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary last September, at which Alan remarked: “Fifty years, you don’t get that for murder!”

I was on the holiday in Corfu referred to in the compilation below by Paul Bristow. I spent most of the time with Paul and Wally, much of it on a little wooden jetty that went out into th sea about twenty yards and gave you an extra half hour of sun before it went down. We named it “Wally’s Plank” and it drew all kinds of people to join us each day. One was a chap that dived in to save my life after I attempted to swim (everyone else made it look so easy, especially Wally); another was a young lass from Wolverhampton and her friend. The young lass, whom we named Dolcie as she worked in a Dolcis shoe store, became Mrs Paul Bristow. I’d just split up with a girl I was engaged to at the time, and being with those lads was the perfect antedote.

My thoughts and condolences to Molly and the family on their great loss, Wally epitomised the spirit of The Sporting Life. R.I.P Wally x Hopper

Mick Malone, former Sporting Life data and copy manager: I first met Wally in April 1964 when I joined the Life in Long Acre, as a messenger/tea boy. Wally was working in the greyhound department which was then headed up by Alf Hitch. Among others in the department at that time were John Smart, Bobby Halestrap and Terry McGovern. After six months as a messenger, I was given the opportunity to work in the [horseracing] form room, but during my time in there Wally said they were looking for extra help in greyhounds to cover evening results. This led to my being offered a full-time job in the department. Archie Newhouse was the new greyhound editor and, apart from Wally, I joined John, Bobby and Terry, Bobby Betts and Mick Cronin. Others that followed me in were John “Admiral” Benbow, Alan Smith and Paul Bristow.

Shortly after our move from Long Acre to New Fetter Lane, it was decided the paper needed a dedicated copytaking department. This was originally formed of Wally, Alan White and myself. Within a year we were amalgamated with Norman Gray, Dennis Rowe and Peter Watkins. Wally worked in the copytakers until he retired due to ill-health, in his early 50s. His diagnosis of chronic type 1 diabetes at a young age never affected his infectious friendship and humour and, as we all know, he more than added to the comradeship we all enjoyed and value.

I have lost a very good friend, and my heart goes out to his lovely wife Molly, daughters Hannah and Leah, and grandchildren.

Please click on the link to read further tributes:  compilation

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