Following on from Andy's post on his blog regarding who or what caused him to take up wargaming, he mentioned a worthy who greatly helped John and I when we were struggling with wargaming.
This was the late 1960's early 1970's which was how things were then. I also knew of another pet shop that also sold wargames figures in Bishop Auckland. Strange that pet shops cornered the wargaming market in my area, it was a bugger going in to buy a goldfish and coming out with some Mini Fig cavalry.
Anyway Derek looked after the wargamers who started to hang out at the shop, and when wargaming started to take off, the pet shop owner took retirement and the Wargamers Den was born.
As a teenager, going to Derek's shop was a thing to really look forward to, there always seemed to be something going on in the shop, either some painted figures or a game, or just other wargamers all looking for advice and ideas.
It all seemed so new and interesting.
What I remember of Derek Sharman was that he was really enthusiastic, he certainly seemed knowledgeable but he didnt seem that well organised. I also think Derek was better as a wargame innovator than as a businessman.
Saying that he did organise some really good wargames shows, that seemed to draw in the public. He also had an eye for locating the shows in really atmospheric locations, like Durham Castle, Lumley Castle and the Castle Green. Also being heavily involved in the 68th society, he always managed to have a fine turn out from the re enactment societies.
My favourite being when he got the Imperiale Guard band with David Chandler dressed up in his finery at Lumley Castle Napoleonic fair.
I only wargamed with him twice, both times at Bishop Auckland. One where his Persian army was minced by a massive Greek army, full of Spartan hopolites, +2 for bell corselet!
The second when Derek took it upon himself to physically charge the French Guard horse artillery up to close range of the British Guard, +2 for British musket fire! The result was carnage.
It always struck me as strange that my regular wargaming opponent then, seemed to get +2 for every unit he had! Still I was just learning the game then.
Like I say Derek was more an ideas person than a general and businessman.
The one thing he was however,was very kind, and apart from allowing me to buy George Gush's Renaissance Armies book on HP, he also gave me a set of his ancient rules, and discounted a lot of Garrison ancient Persian figures when I was struggling to pay for them.
I'm hoping other wargamers who came across Derek can fill in some of the gaps,because to be fair, he did an awful lot for wargaming in Durham County and deserves a bit of recognition, even if it is only in this blog.
I understand that Derek lives near Berwick and is heavily involved as a tourist guide.