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Salute to Eric

By Kevin Anderson

The Football Club bids farewell this week to a loyal and much-loved supporter...

“"Quite simply, Eric Lockwood was one of life's true gentlemen"”

Wednesday, 11th July, 1.00pm at Eastbourne Crematorium (and afterwards at Langney Sports Club for all family, friends and club supporters). A date with duty, devotion and a dear friend, for we must say goodbye to Eric Lockwood.

You will all have known Eric, even if some of you didn't know his name. He had a (named) seat in the centre of the stand by the steps up to the boardroom. He has been a wonderful supporter and an absolutely lovely man, failing in health over recent years but still full of good humour and wisdom, as sharp as you like in analysing the performances, and simply a stalwart. Hardly a Priory Lane match passed without Eric summoning me over, for usually some wry, pithy and slightly subversive comment about the team or the manager and the prospects for today’s match. And I always listened, for in Eric Lockwood there was not only the wisdom of the years, but also a generous and humorous spirit, a loyalty to his club as well, of course, as to his family and friends. This football club is built on the character, the qualities, the good sense of men and women like Eric. He has left us, but he will never leave us.

When the news of Eric passing broke last month, the message boards were simply flooded with warm, heartfelt wishes and memories. Fittingly, for a man so universally liked, they have not been just standard “RIP” messages, but they have been rich with anecdotes. Here’s just a selection of supporters’ comments:

“A real character, and such a nice fella… Always a pleasure to know and a lovely man… A great supporter of the club, and will be sadly missed by all of us at the club… RIP to my lovely footy buddy Eric, a dear friend and a true gentleman… A real character, Eric always gave us cheerful wave in the PA box!… Eric was a regular on the supporters’ coach while he was still well enough, and in fact he was usually the first to sign up!… I’ve known Eric since 1982! He was also the leader of the Scottish Pipe Band and led the band at the carnival parades… I first met Eric when he worked for the Post Office – we had some great rides on the coach to away games, with Eric’s sense of humour helping to pass the time by looking out for mosques or Eddie Stobart trucks!… Eric always bought one of my programmes, a smashing man… Eric will be thought of so fondly by so many… Quite simply, one of life’s gentlemen... “

Eric’s family have been embraced this month by the larger Sports family, and Dawn commented last week:
"I am in awe at the amount of messages of love and support! Reading some of the comments here has really brought a smile to my face and I’m sure it has to the other family members. It was due to the quick thinking of the others at the Dripping Pan that we were to have dad for a fair few more years. Our gratitude goes out to EVERYONE connected to Eastbourne Borough Football Club for the kindness and respect shown to Dad at this truly devastating time. I’m sure if I may speak for my brother and sisters we hope as many fans and players can attend his big day !"

Most of you will know that nine years ago in the Dripping Pan car park, Mr Lockwood had the nerve to upstage the Rooks and Borough teams with his own major drama – a heart attack which, to be truthful, might have been fatal but for the quick thinking of two medically trained supporters nearly, who saved him on the spot with CPR. And about a fortnight later, as one supporter recalls, he was “back to his old usual cynical self”, complaining that Lee Smith had damaged his precious Borough shirt by cutting it off in the emergency….

Eric did say to me once that if he died the day after watching a Borough game, he would die happy! The Great Referee in the Sky added on quite a bit of stoppage time, but has finally called time. It was a privilege to have known him. Bless you, Eric, and rest in peace now.

Updated 07:26 - 18 Jul 2018 by Lee Peskett

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