Olly Montandon - ex-football, tug-of-war and darts supremo
Olly Montandon - ex-football, tug-of-war and darts supremo

I was born at The Plants, Alders Road, Capel. The house lies right down in the woods. I have two brothers, Frederick, the older one and Robert, the younger. Both are still alive - one lives in Pembury and the other in Tonbridge.

My dad, Edward Montandon, known as Ted, was born at Red House, Five Oak Green, and was a builder. He worked for Lawrence's then Wallis's. My mum Bertha (Bridges) was born at Kings Toll, Matfield. Mum was in service before she was married. 

They were married at St Thomas a Becket Church, Capel on Saturday June 24, 1939. Mum died on March 30, 1989, aged 75; dad passed away on Feb 22, 1996, aged 87.

Grandad was a cobbler in the village but not a footballer. He had a little place down near the brook where Oak Dean is now. Then he moved to a small building in the front garden of what is now known as Oak Cottage, next to Looker's shop. The house was called Red House which wasattached to Oak Cottage. Richard Harris who lives in Oak Cottage said his house was once two cottages.

They were the first Montandons to come to the village, in about 1907. We are Huguenots, who moved from the Swiss/French border to London in the 1700s.


I remember dad playing football for Capel in his 50s. There are a lot of photos showing him as being captain. Once he came out and played football for us when we were short of a player. So, there was myself, my dad and brothers Freddie and Robert all playing for the same team.

I went to Capel School then Sussex Road in Tonbridge. I wasn't very good at anything - only football. I left school at the age of 15. I worked at Robert Hall's in Paddock Wood for six years. Tommy Large was foreman there at the time and he got me the job. Robert Hall made greenhouses and sheds.

Then I went to Pembury Fencing and worked for them for 44 years. I retired in 2008.

I played football for Sussex Road School and Capel FC. I was inside right. You don't hear it called that anymore. I scored a few goals for the school team. I have a couple of medals with Capel FC for winning the Tonbridge League First Division. It was a good side. 1962/63 was one of the years.

Other players included Eddie and Chris Bowden, Peter Tully, Brian Fulcher, Jimmy Cavey, Paddy Jones, my brothers Freddie and Robert, the Kimble brothers, Brian and Ray Sales, Jimmy Simmons, Titch Knight, Mick Wickens, Trevor Exall, Dave Aldridge, Pat and Mick Large, Dave and John Crush, Pete Thompsett, Timmy Balston, Johnny Whichello, Ken and Reg Jenner, Colin Tully and the 'keeper Roy Humphrey.

I played for quite a few years. I was inside right or centre half or used to go on the left wing. I could shoot and kick with either foot. I wasn't the leading scorer but I got a few goals. I was injury-free right until the end when I twisted my ankle.


When I was about 20 or 21, I had a bad motor-bike accident and that was that. I thought I would never play football again. It was on the corner by the George and Dragon pub, right outside of George Cottages. I was doing about 80 mph on my mate's bike, a 600 Norton.

We went in the ditch, shot in the air and went flying across the road. Luckily, we had helmets on but it messed my right leg up. It came up like a big balloon. I had a fractured femur and dislocated my shoulder. Ray Sells was on the back, punctured his lung and broke his ribs where he went into the back of me. They took Ray to London somewhere. He was in hospital a long time. I was in the Kent and Sussex in Tunbridge Wells for six weeks. We are both ok now. I did play after that but not a lot.

I always remember playing at Brenchley, the first game I played after the accident. I had a pin from the top of my right hip through the bone to about five inches above the knee. I've got a big line of stitches there -- about 20 or 21. When they chipped the bone away they went right down the leg. When I raised my leg to kick the ball, I could feel the pin sticking in me. After a year I had the pin taken out.

I finished my playing days around my mid-20s. I've got three medals and I'd been playing for 10 or so years. The team got good support.

They were the good old days!


For recreation next, it was darts. I played for the George and Dragon. I played there a lot and a little bit in the Queens Head. Then we went to The Bell at Golden Green. I played over there quite a bit.

There was a league and darts nights were Tuesdays. The team at the G and D was Ken, Paul, Brian, John and Frank Cheesman and Kevin Park. They were all good players. We had quite a good side and I was a good player. We got plenty of trophies. I've played darts for years. The Queens Head were a good side -- Bert Brockman, Les Large, Bert's son John Brockman, Tom Bellingham, Bill Twort, Peter Jenner and his son Peter, Ernie Exall and Ted Wigmore.

I stopped playing just before I retired. It was good fun. Once a year in February there was a big darts night at the Community Centre but that did not last that long. Don Cruickshank was there. I was a CCA darts winner in 1984.


It was Pembury fencing at first. Don Cruickshank got me into it really. The first one I ever pulled at was over at Woodchurch. I was sick as a pig. The effort is harder than you think. I was not the anchor, I'd be somewhere in the middle. The anchor was always Don Cruickshank or Nigel Summers -- both big men.

There was a league. We used to go most Sundays in the summer, sometimes on a Saturday. I pulled for the Queens Head. There were loads of tug-of-war clubs and all had their own venue. All the different clubs would go to that venue so we used to pull against loads of teams. You'd have different weights so as well 560 kg lightweight, there'd be 600, 620, 680 and a 720 then a catchweight -- anyone could go in that, no matter what their weight.

There used to be a big scale, nearly the size of a table. The indicator was on the front and eight of you would get on the scales at once. If you were over that weight they would not let you in it. You'd have to get someone lighter. Then your leg was stamped to show which weight you were in.

When we had it down the green there must have been 10 or more teams. You'd have three or four different ropes so there'd be matches pulling at the same time.

We used to go all over the place. In October 1987 went to Jersey to watch the nationals; there'd be teams from all over the country. We went to Chertsey up in London where we saw Concorde take off. That was a sight to see. We'd never seen it before.

I was 35-40 when I started. I've got Kent championship medals, plus four times runner-up.

Oxney Vines Cross. They were lightweight world champions. We pulled against them. They were a bit special. They used to hold you until you were tired out than suddenly their trainer would give the sign and away they'd go.


I did six or seven years of tug-of-war. It's not necessarily an age thing. There were a lot of old boys. You get used to it but I used to get hernias plus aches, pains in the wrists. It was painful. They used to have something called tacky that you put on your hands, like a resin. You'd stick to the rope a bit better. Sometimes it would pull the skin off.

You'd be doing several pulls in an afternoon. You'd win say the 640 kg then you went to another one and if you were winning you'd have to go pulling all afternoon. You wore special shoes with steel tips for better grip.

If you were in three or four weights you could be pulling 20 times in an afternoon. We've even pulled in dark with car headlights on, over at Nutley. It had just gone on too long. It was too dark. It was the catchweight, the last one.

If anyone sat down, they give you two warnings and if you didn't get up you were blown out.

We went to Isle of Sheppey and a lot of fetes as well. They were nice because you could walk round and look at other things other than tug-of-war. We also went to Folkestone a few times.

The pullers were all pretty good -- Mick Cheesman, Mark Attley, Ken Hatch, Mick Allchorne, Bernie, Nigel and Michael Summers, Glen Varrel, Brian Adams, Robin Adams, Don Cruikshank and Bruce Berwick. Lionel Summers was coach.

We often went back to The Queens Head to enjoy a few beers afterwards.

I finished in late 80s/early 90s. I have got some nice trophies and medals.

It all sort of died out at the same time I was beginning to give up. They had a winter league, no scales just the whole lot of you, whatever the weight.

They used to put tug-of-war signs on roundabouts pointing to where the venue was. You'd see loads of them, but not now.

I suppose everybody gets tired of things. You have a good run at them but they seem to die out.

There were times when I felt the motor bike injury but I battled on. I got a new right knee in 2014 so the scars are nearly joining. There's just a three-inch gap now!