- Subject: Oral History
Croydon United Domino Club from the 60s to today – the food, the community, the game.
In this audio you can hear Kenneth, Michael, Janet, Anonymous and Mineta.
The audio is 6 minutes and 34 seconds long.
I’ve been associated with the Croydon Domino Club for about, since 1968, but it’s a long time. We used to play… We did not know clubs… we used to play in houses. I go to your house you come to my house. It’s how we used to play dominoes that’s for a long, long time.
Four people might be playing. Just like what we’re doing here today. Like, you just have one table, four of you playing. That’s how we used to start. And when, you lose, it’s possible, you get up and give another two person a game. You wouldn’t have like four tables in somebody’s house. You just have one table with four chairs and then two pairs. Another two might want to game they have to wait. And if you lose, you get up and give the other person a chance, that’s how we used to do it in the early days. Whoever having the event, they do the catering and everybody just enjoy themselves, eat and whatever, whatever. If you want to contribute towards the catering, that’s fine. That’s how we used to pass our time. It was good, but most of the time they like…like most people like curry mutton, rice and whatever, whatever. Chicken or oxtail, whatever. Fish, things like that. That’s what we used to do it, and we still do the same thing now, you know. If you invite the team to play dominoes here, you have to feed them. You can’t charge them for the food. The food is… you lay that on, and when you go out and to play at their premises, the food is free to you. But the drinks, you have to pay for the drinks, but the food is free. That’s how we do it.
We’ve been here, now, about 35 years at this club. We got about 60-70 members.
It’s a long time that we’ve, as I said over 30 odd years, we’ve been in the building. And plus, as I said, I’ve been here from the age of 13. And I’m now 63. So, it’s a long time. So, 40 years ago, we’re talking about. And there’s not been a lot of changes to the building itself.
My father arrived from the Caribbean in the late 50s. I was obviously born here, born and bred, and I’ve attended this club. Or should I say my siblings have. I’m an only girl with all boys. That this place was a club for young teenagers in the area: table tennis, football. It was always like a space for young people to come and attend and play games and be safe. So, a lot of the people you might see here have attended here when they were young children and growing up into the centre and become brilliant domino players. I come and watch the game, but I think for me, personally, it’s a space for the more senior members of our community to come and be safe and play dominoes and interact and stimulate their brains and keep them young. So, my dad, who’s 83, is an amazing 83-year-old who does word searches and everything else, but I think this place keeps him young. I just know that if you’re sat across the table with my father, you’ll win. You will always win because they play in a partnership, so it will be you and I will be playing a game. I can’t play dominoes. But if you’re good at dominoes, it doesn’t matter what I do, we’ll win the game and beat the other two opponents who are against us. So if you’ve got a good domino player with you, you’ll always win. So, I’m not a player, but he’s brilliant and he’s known for that.
It’s a very strategic game. I’ll tell you one thing that…so recently I have a grandbaby who’s 5 and she spent half an hour with my dad playing dominoes and by the end of that day, she was on the floor matching every single domino player. And I kept thinking that’s stimulating her for maths and we forget about basic things like that.
Christmas functions. They have a Christmas dinner and dances. That’s where you see all the women attend. So, the wives and the partners. So, my mum has attended, you know those events and I have attended as a guest and sat around the table. But it’s kind of nice bringing people together for something that’s positive. Its tables set up. It’s quite…actually I think it’s where you get to see the other side of people. So normally if you’re here for a domino match, it’s loud. It’s lots of shouting, it’s quite animated if you’re not used to it, you’ll be thinking “oh, are they arguing?” but it’s just the way that dominoes are played. When it’s a Christmas party, you see people suited and booted, so those who would be with a woolly hat are now in a shirt and tie, really smartly dressed. Lovely dinners, I have to say the food here. So, they put on dinners for everybody. They have music and entertainment, move the tables out the way so people can dance.
It’s nice because it’s young and old, and I think that’s kind of what’s missing in the community, is pulling together that kind of older generation where they’re there the younger generation who are coming up and that’s what I love about it most. So you’ll have the old 1960s music, and then you’ll have kind of like the Soul music and the RnB that people can dance to, but the older people are there and mixing in as well. But yeah, it’s a nice kind of hub I think, to pull everybody together, and the fact that it’s been around for so long is kind of important ‘cause when I look at this place, they talk about it as being a community hub. I see as a place where my brothers grew up and it was a safe space that I could come. I grew up with my dad always being here, playing dominoes. He’s been playing dominoes for years and I remember my mum on Sunday saying you know that this was his church [laughs] when she was going to church because this is where you came and played the game but. Yeah, it’s…very much a family feel I’d say.
If the Domino Club wasn’t here, there wouldn’t be anybody here tonight. This space would be just lock up. Most of the youth them out there, they’re not members of the domino club, but there’s somewhere to go. They come here and they play and just have a good time and they go home, you understand? Domino Club…they use it for christening, they use it for the funeral, use it for any kind of party, you know what I mean?
We’ve got also a girls’ team called the Diamond Girls in which we go around and play different, different teams and we are really successful in it. We play against the men’s. Even yesterday we’ve got a match with Peckham. Croydon team, we got a Match with Peckham and it was really interesting cause Croydon beat Peckham. The match was very, very exciting. It was only two ladies in the team at there and we beat… our table, beat the men’s. So, very, very exciting.
South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit www.croydon.gov.uk/
Image Credit: Croydon Council
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