Last year, a bunch of old and some not-so-old codgers got together in the Olympic Pavilion to record the club song for posterity. (Here is the Club Song.) To mark the occasion, one of those members present at the first appearance of the song, Mike Williams, relates the birth of a tradition.
“By memory, this became the Club song about 1960 when a group of us standing in the bar at the new clubhouse at Horsenden Hill – I believe on a Sunday lunchtime – started to sing and individuals were asked to sing a song in turn.”
“Definitely there were Gerry Finch, Grant Brendon, Doug Barge, Jumbo Harrall, Mike Williams, John Tye and George Hopkins. I also think Ray Cusden, David Inwood and George Prichenfried were there.”
“When it came to George Hopkins’s turn, he said he didn’t know any songs. (He was a scout master and a quite useful big prop but was one of the quieter members of the 1st XV.) However, in the end he was persuaded to sing and came out with the now classic ‘In the Evening’.”
“Over the next few months, this was sung more often till eventually it became the club song.”
“Willie Williams was in the Army at the time and stationed in either Singapore or Paris. When he returned to the UK a couple of years later the song was already established, but he and the ‘Welsh’ contingent brought in the harmonies and the descants.”
Further note from Michael Jackson.
“I read Mike Williams story of the origins of The Club’s song with some interest, since it was George Hopkins who introduced me to Ealing in 1961.
He and his wife Iris were the Cub Scout Leaders with 23rd Ealing West Twyford Group, of which I was a member at the time, and in fact took over from them a few years later. He lived in Twyford Abbey Road, with his parents, before he got married to Iris, just around the corner from myself.
George’s father, also called George, worked at Guinness, as did my father, and they both belonged to the Bowls Club for many years.
It was a very convivial group and a great deal of “the black stuff” was consumed after the game and sometimes during, although in those days it was bottled Guinness, a stronger brew, and at a better temperature.
Any way the point of my story is, that I can quite clearly remember George Hopkins Senior singing the Club Song on a number of occasions, sometime before 1960.
Where it came from originally I have no idea.
Sadly I don’t know of George’s whereabouts now, but if I do track him down I will ask if he has any more information.