Pitching in to hail Bob and Jean Lucas' devotion

FORMER Weymouth chairman Ian Ridley has honoured Bob and Jean Lucas by devoting a chapter to the couple in Michael Calvin’s football anthology – Life’s a Pitch: The Passions of the Press Box.

The section, entitled ‘Every Club Should Have Two’, details the pair’s affinity with the Terras and the impact they both had on the club since late lifetime president Bob joined as a goalkeeper back in 1949.

Many of the anecdotes come through Jean’s eyes with Ridley adding the historical background and it creates an earthy charm that highlights the writer’s huge respect for the couple.

Ridley also takes the opportunity to take a swipe at the in-fighting the Lucas’ had to witness at the club, particularly in the closing years of Bob’s life, which sadly came to an end on August 12, 2010.

He even goes as far as to recall how he lost his temper with one particular club official for carrying out ‘an edict from a crass chief executive’ which banned Jean from the boardroom and the directors’ box on matchdays – a decision that still angers him to this day.

Such was Ridley’s contempt for certain individuals he even thought it best not to attend Bob’s funeral in the fear of speaking out against them and marring the occasion, and it is that honesty that really makes this chapter so appealing to the reader.

Not only do you instantly warm to Jean and Bob but you also get an insight into the author’s passion for Weymouth, his love for the couple, and his frustration at how the club has been handled in recent years.

Clearly a man of principles, Ridley really does shoot from the hip at times and by the end it is clear there is a lot more he would like to reveal.

The reason he hasn’t is clearly out of respect for Bob and Jean and that in lies the beauty of this chapter because it never loses sight of the subject matter or leans on to the writer’s grumblings about the past – it gets close but never spills over.

It may be that Ridley is saving that for another day but one thing is for sure and that is the tone of the piece definitely hits the spot.

Not only does it include the type of rollercoaster of emotions so synonymous with the game but it also offsets it with the loyalty and dignity that has made Bob and Jean such an iconic couple amongst the Terras’ faithful.

Other football writers also bare their souls in the book with similar honesty and the end result is a blunt insight to life in the Press box and the passions and prejudices that go with it.

It is a captivating read and one that all football fans should pick up because let’s face it, apart from the power of the pen, journalists like Ridley are just like any other supporter – impassioned people that have committed their life to the trials and tribulations of the beautiful game.

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