Standing (from left): Norman Stansbridge (Scorer), Phil Treagus, Gary Dingley, Dave Davis, Phil Brown, Chris Shetler, Bill Cooper, Alan Tilley (Umpire). Front: Martyn Tilley, Derek Marshall, Harry May, Terry Journeaux, Bernie Salter.
He was passionate and lived for his football and cricket, playing lead roles on and off the field for many years in both sports, a player competitive in the extreme no matter what sized ball it was, but always happy to have a beer afterwards.
He was an uncompromising centre-half in the winter months and a fiery, often scary opening bowler with ball in hand in the summer.
And all for Fair Oak, where he was secretary and organizer, a meticulous recorder and book-keeper, with Hampshire cricket memorabilia dating back to the 1920s among his vast collection.
He ran Fair Oak’s successful village Southampton Football League club, carrying out a similar role with the cricket team, who were among the original founder members of the Hampshire League back in 1973. Talk about being Fair Oak through and through …
Alongside that, Harry played darts and dominoes for the Acorn and Bishopstoke Social Clubs and was chairman of the East River Dominoes League.
His competitive nature was probably reflected in his day-time job at Pirelli-General in Eastleigh, where he worked for over 25 years as a fitter/turner and was a typically forceful shop steward and convener.
‘Once met, never forgotten’ was one comment made about Harry May, a towering presence of a man both physically and in football terms for Fair Oak, who were a force in Junior League soccer in the mid to late fifties, winning Junior 4 with a 100 per cent record in their first season and lifting the Senior 2 crown in 1958/59.
The following season Fair Oak were beaten 2-1 by Old Edwardians in the Southampton Senior Cup final at The Dell.
Local derbies with Eastleigh Boy’s Club were often X-certificate ‘high-spots’ of the season !
Fair Oak enjoyed marvelous success during Harry’s time as secretary. They won the Southampton Premier League three times on the trot between 1992 and 1994.
They lifted the Reg Mathieson Trophy in 1993, but lost that year’s Senior Cup final, 1-0 to Colden Common in a replay at Follands, after a 1-1 draw at The Dell.
His long shoulder length hair draped down, he was economical in the extreme with his bowling run-up. Two paces, often catching the batsman unawares. A two-foot shuffle, then over came the right-arm. Quicky.
It was probably just as well he didn’t run up too far because in those embryo days of 42-over Hampshire League cricket matches, there were no bowling restrictions – and Harry May, ‘supported’ by his father Alf as umpire, usually bowled 21 of them, in every match from early May to late August.
Let's allow Mike Brogan, Sarisbury Athletic’s captain and opening batsman in those days, to take up the story.
“Harry and Bill Cooper were a formidable bowling partnership and bowled in tandem for 42 overs, every other week at Bishopstoke. Often on a grassy green top.
“Harry was exceptionally quick and hostile, striking fear and terror into many a batsman, including yours truly.
“Astonishingly, he bowled off just two paces and personally, I was paralysed by fear, such was his reputation. Harry was a tough, hard cricketer and he always gave me a severe examination. It should be remembered that I (and other batsmen) had just a cloth cap for protection! There were no helmets in those days.
Big mistake !
“I still remember a game on Sarisbury Green. I had the audacity to attempt to hook Harry. Big mistake! I got a top edge and the ball hit me under the chin, knocking me senseless. Indeed, the next thing I remembered were the blue lights of the ambulance coming up Sarisbury Hill !
“Team-mates say 'I went down like John Wayne'.”
Away from his cricket, football, darts and dominoes, Harry loved Country & Western music and was an audience regular at the Ponderosa Club at Boarhunt, near Wickham.
He battled cancer in the latter years of his life, but that didn’t stop him watching cricket with his life-long pal and past Fair Oak team-mate Dave Burgess at Hursley Park, Sparsholt and St Cross and often further afield.
A bachelor, he lived in the same house in Victena Road, Fair Oak, all his life – bar annual cricket tours to the west country – and how sad it was one morning in April, when a neighbour noticed the milk hadn’t been collected from his doorstep and he was found dead at the foot of his staircase.
There will be a coroner’s inquest in October but, at Harry’s request, there is no funeral.