Club mourns passing of former player and manager
The club was saddened to hear that Roy Jennings, a former Reds player and manager, passed away last week at the age of 84.
Roy joined the Reds in 1964 after he was released by Brighton. Roy made 220 appearances for the Reds, scoring 38 goals - all penalties. He never missed from the spot. When he took over running the side in January 1968 he became only the club’s third permanent manager after Fred Cook and Roy McCrohan.
Roy guided the club to promotion to the Southern League premier division in 1969. He made the last of his playing appearances for the club later that year against Wimbledon and managed the club for the final time against Yeovil on January 3 1970 in a 1-1 draw, before being replaced by Stan Markham.
Swindon-born Roy had played for Wiltshire and England Schools but had no great ambitions to be a footballer. He was more keen on studying accountancy before he was spotted by a local scout who recommended him to Southampton.
He started life at the Seagulls as a full back but was converted to centre-half and won promotion to the old Second Division whilst at Brighton. He made 297 appearances for them, scoring 22 goals including 13 penalties.
Roy lived in Crawley after retiring and worked in the accountancy business and was active in the local community.
Reds fan Mick Fox pays tribute to Roy here:
It is with great sadness that I learned of the death in hospital of Roy Jennings, who to us older supporters became one of the all-time favourites and responsible for one of the most remarkable promotion successes in the 1960s.
Roy came to Crawley in 1964 - he had been skipper of Brighton in his younger days - towards the end of his career and he made an enduring impression on us supporters and also his team mates, not to mention those opposing forwards unlucky enough to feel the force of a Jennings tackle.
I remember watching Roy in his first full season in 1964-65. He was a no-nonsense centre back who looked as if he had spent a career battling rugged centre forwards in the days when the physical side of the game was significantly more evident than today. Roy rarely missed a game from the 1964-65 season through to the end of his playing days in the 1968-69 campaign when he made just a few appearances. That last season, when Roy had taken over as player/manager, was probably his greatest achievement, coming as it did the year after and underachieving but expensive squad which finished 5th from bottom in the Southern League.
We therefore feared the worst when budget cuts were announced due to overspending, but with Roy as manager he steered us to a remarkable first ever promotion to the Premier Division. After the previous season, when we had conceded 85 league goals, Roy managed to bring in one or two new signings on a very tight budget, with Phil Basey being perhaps the most successful, got rid of the expensive “dead wood” and organised us to such good effect that we only conceded 32 goals in 42 games and achieved promotion with two games to spare. And this from a squad largely consisting of 14 players for 42 league games.
Those of us who watched Roy play in the 1960s will remember his toughness but also his uncanny ability to score penalties into either corner of the net without seemingly striking the ball with any force at all. And this was in the days when he was often taking penalties in the notorious Town Meadow mud. Roy was the best penalty taker I have ever seen and this allied to his achievements as manager make Roy one of our all-time greats in my eyes.
One other recollection I have is from 1991 when Roy, then in his late 50s, turned out in the John Skinner testimonial match at Town Meadow. I was quite surprised that his manner belied his outwardly tough and “battle-scarred” features, but also that even at that age he still seemed the fittest and strongest player in our talented veterans’ team.
Roy now joins our ever-growing “celestial” team and will enjoy reminiscing with the likes of Stan Markham, Dave Haining and Bruce Winfield over our successes in the late 1960s.
RIP Roy, condolences to your family and thank you for the great and enduring memories.