This week we celebrate one of the less known members of the Sussex cricket family, journalist, Jack Arlidge. In a corner of the press box at Hove, Jack, who for 50 years watched more county cricket in Sussex than most of the players or administrators of the time, is remembered.
He grew up in Faringdon, Wiltshire, before moving to Brighton to continue his journalism on the Evening Argus and, before that, The Sussex Daily News where he wrote under the name ‘Robert Street’ after the road that housed both newspapers’ offices in central Brighton.
From the 1950s onwards Jack was a constant presence at the County Ground. In those days journalists didn’t enjoy the creature comforts afforded to them in the modern Media Stand at the sea end! In Jack’s day the press box used to be situated in the building immediately to the left of the committee room where reporters would occasionally bask in the sunshine on the balcony in front of the two wooden desks.
Jack, whose son Andy carried on the family tradition for many years at Hove, would always sit in the front row by the door. There were two telephones in booths at the back of the box, which Jack would hire out to visiting journalists in the days before lap-tops, the internet and social media. Back then reporters had to dictate copy to their offices and Hove was a favourite haunt because it was one of the few grounds where ‘scoops’ could be dictated in a degree privacy.
After he turned freelance in the 1960s Jack represented several newspapers and agencies and was a familiar figure at Brighton’s old Goldstone Ground reporting on football matches.
A kind and gentle man, he found it difficult to be critical of anyone and made friends with lots of Sussex players down the years. He was also a familiar voice in the early years of Radio Brighton and became well known for his opening words ‘Hello sportsmen.’ Jack regularly went around the county with Sussex cricketers to hold quizzes in pubs and clubs.
Jack married Joy and they lived in Portslade for much of their 50 years of marriage, he died in 2000 and to commemorate him the Cricket Writers Club installed a plaque in the Hove press box that is still there today.
His contribution to Sussex sport was recognised when the Brighton & Hove Bus Company named a bus after him. That's when you know you've truly made it in the City!