Following relegation in 1964/65 from the Southern Premier League, and the resignation of manager Ted Ballard, Hastings United appointed Sid Bishop as their player manager. Sid was an experienced defender who had stepped down from League football to join United. He was a commanding centre-half who was ever-present as Leyton Orient won promotion to the First Division in 1961-62. He joined Orient from nursery side Chase of Chertsey in June 1952, and helped to clinch the Third Division (South) title in 1955-56.Sid made a significant contribution as Orient reached the League Cup fifth round in 1962-63 and was ever-present again in 1963-64, netting four goals in 296 League games for the Orient prior to becoming Hastings United's player-boss in May 1965.
His arrival saw a major renaissance for the club and made an early TV appearance when he explained “United are admired wherever they go, by the crowds and by their opponents.” The crowds flocked to the Pilot Field and notable attendances included 3642 for the home fixture to promotion rivals Wisbech. There was a home average gate of 2303. The season was also boosted by the arrival of ex Spurs and England international Bobby Smith and Welsh Under 21 international Jim Ryan ( who subsequently moved on to league football at Exeter City). Smith explained that he opted for United as Sid Bishop was an old friend from their footballing days in London when Smith was at Tottenham and Bishop was at Leyton Orient. They had also been involved in cricket matches played by footballers from most of the bigger London clubs
Although just failing in their promotion push they did get to the semi final of the Southern League cup, before being eliminated by Yeovil on the infamous sloping Huish pitch.
The new Chairman of United at the time was James Humphreys, whose major passion was greyhound racing at a time when there were moves afoot to bring racing to the Pilot Field. He had joined the board in June 1965 and was Chairman by mid season. This apparently successful businessman described himself as “The Emperor of Porn”. When the police raided Soho's porn shops in the Sixties, they would call up Humphreys and offer him the confiscated magazines.
Their understanding came to an abrupt end in 1973 when he was charged with a wounding offence, which he denied, but was given eight years in prison. Convinced he had been framed, he soon opened the diaries in which he had recorded all his dealings. He gave evidence against all the corrupt police he had wined and dined. Of these 74 had been arrested, 12 had resigned, 28 retired and 13 were jailed. It was the biggest police scandal in a century and two years into his sentence he was rewarded with a royal pardon. The late Sixties were his halcyon days. He owned a 28-room Kent farmhouse and a luxury Soho apartment. In the aftermath of the Scotland Yard scandal, Humphreys fled to Mexico, then Florida, and lived off horse and greyhound racing. Homesick, he and his wife Rusty returned to London in the Nineties and died in Hastings, September 22, 2003, aged 73.
With the cherished goal of promotion eluding United in 1966, Sid Bishop was to leave United at the end of the season although Humphreys remained as Chairman. One of the players recruited at the end of the season was goalkeeper Dave Underwood, who had impressed in a charity match. He was to become the next player manager after Bishop.
Bishop was to turn out for Guildford City and became player manager there. He retained a link with Leyton Orient and is pictured (top left) in 2005 with former colleague Stan Charlton in an initiative to promote the young fans section at Brisbane Road.