A STALWART Down’ard joined the ranks of the honoured few to not only have goaled a Shrovetide ball, but also to turn one up.
John Tomkinson, who scored at the hewnth plinth at Clifton in 1971, spoke of the honour he felt at being invited to turn up the Shrove Tuesday ball as he address the first of the game’s Shrovetide Luncheons.
He said: “A few days before Christmas I received a telephone call informing me it was the wish of the committee that I turn up the ball.
“I was honoured and delighted to accept.
“It dawned on me later that the Tuesday is usually when a celebrity or personality turns up the ball. Clearly I’m neither of those.”
Mr Tomkinson went on to speak of his wife, Sandra and children Andrew, Nick and Roberta, describing how he had served an apprenticeship as a builder before becoming self-employed in 1965.
Mr Tomkinson and his wife worked together to build up the business which became a true family concern when their son Andrew joined the company.
Mr Tomkinson said: “We constructed Ashbourne Golf and Ashbourne Bowls clubhouses as well as the swimming pool and sports complex at Blore Hall.
“Our family means everything to Sandra and me. We are very proud of them.
“Today we are all here because of the game of Shrovetide.
“My early interest was from my school days when I was conceited enough to think I could join in.
“Most of my friends were Down’ards so I became a Down’ard. Another good reason for being a Down’ard was because no one seemed to know where Sturston was.”
Mr Tomkinson recounted the night he scored a goal in 1971 before being led from the leisure centre to join the small group of men who have had the dual honour or both goaling and turning-up a ball.
Mr Tomkinson added: “Most Ashburnians would agree with me; being asked to turn up the ball is the biggest honour the town can bestow.”
Chairman of the Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Committee, Brell Ewart, presented Mr Tomkinson with an engraved crystal goblet which is given each year to the turners-up by licensees at The Wheel and this year’s Ashbourne Mayor and Mayoress, Steve and Sue Bull.
A new book on the history of Shrovetide by Lindsey Porter was also presented to Mr Tomkinson along with specially designed cufflinks given by town centre jeweller C W Sellors.