On Boxing day as I made my way out of the ground after yet another late postponement by a match official, our Chairman was sat in the car and beckoned me closer for a ‘chat.’ Even though he was obviously both very ill and also fed up with another cancelled game, he was keen to point out a couple of things, reassure me on something and also to encourage on another point. He finished our conversation with a shake of my hand and a firm reminder of a promise he and I agreed on back in the summer when, after we had lost one or two players, there was a bit of a sense of foreboding emanating from some about how poor we were going to be for the coming season.
Paul never once interfered in anything on the playing side, but that day he asked me straight out what we were doing and what the long-term plan was. I told him how both Bow and myself intended to go about building a side, giving the club what we felt was an identity, working with our players, improving aspects of our play and discipline, giving fans some entertainment, developing some things for the future and generally trying to move the club forward again from the fantastic base it already had thanks to his and many others hard work over the last 5 years.
He let me finish talking, gave me his opinion and some advice, looked me in the eye and shook me firmly by the hand.
Since that day, we had many a small chat, usually before or after games, and always, without fail, every time they were positive, supportive and encouraging. I know I will miss those conversations, and especially the hand shake and ‘Just a couple of points” questions!
Whilst we obviously knew how ill the Chairman was, when Vikki let us know early last Friday morning of his passing, it was still both a shock and upsetting news to receive.
I think it is testament to him, and amazing, to see the number of messages and comments just on social media alone offering condolences and comments about Paul.
I know all the Players, Bow, Phil, Chris and myself have been affected, and I certainly know that everyone else connected with the club, Board members, committees and every single fan will feel the same way.
Paul was my Chairman, and still is in my eyes, and I hope that we can all continue to make him proud of this club. Paul was not just a fantastic Chairman, he was a very special Man who I, along with many others, will miss. My thoughts as always, this last week go out to his family and friends.
One of the many last things he discussed with Bow and myself was the moving of our Vase fixture to be played at Wincham Park this coming Sunday. I know that, a bit like the fixture away at NVFC at the start of this season, there may be some of our fans who will not wish to attend, and just as I said back then, I fully understand and respect that, and it is everyone’s right to do as they see fit for themselves.
However, the team will certainly be doing everything on the day for every fan, in attendance or not, to progress a little further. All I would say is that I know Paul was very thorough and diligent in arranging the playing of such a big game in our history over at WP, and it was not something that did not have a lot of consideration behind it. As both Bow and I told him, if it was something he felt was right, then so did we and as obviously circumstances now dictate that he can’t be at a fixture he was looking so much forward to, I would ask that those who are considering not attending, just take a moment to rethink, even if it’s just this one time, and come along to support the Club that he, and you, are so proud of, formed and have got to this point in such a short time.
OUR CHAIRMAN COULD ALWAYS CELEBRATE AN 1874 GOAL IN STYLE
ABBEY HEY IN APRIL 2017
Photographs by Ian Dutton