Chesham United FC

It is with great sadness that I share the news that one of our longest-serving, and most loved supporters, lost his battle with cancer last weekend. At the age of 74 we say goodbye to Fred Wallis, who will be greatly missed.

I personally have known Fred since I was ten years old, by then he was already a Chesham United supporter having attended his first game as a mere eight year old. He would go on to be a loyal supporter at both home and away matches, including all the games in the 1990s when he used to travel on the Boughton’s mini-bus to matches. There was always a story to tell, but perhaps a favourite was on the way to Hendon’s old Claremont Road ground. Fred thought he recognised a car in front so they decided to follow it rather than use their own map…and ended up at Brent Cross Shopping Centre!

In more recent times he has shared a lift to matches with Gavin Jones. Generous to the last Fred always insisted on paying for Gavin to get into games in return for the petrol, although he did insist that Gavin wore a hat and scarf around his neck so that the much younger Gavin could get in as an OAP concession!

At these difficult times our love and thoughts are with Fred’s family, he has created many great memories for all of us and as a club we are proud to have been such a large part of his life. His last game watching his beloved Chesham United was on March 26th against Poole Town, after the game he sent a text message to friends saying “What a game, I will remember this for many a day.”

Fred, we will always remember you, sleep peacefully.

Peter Brown

 

Funeral Details

Tuesday 31st May 2022 15:15 pm at Amersham Crematorium. With a wake at Berkhamsted Golf Club following the service

 

Tribute to Fred, read at his funeral by Chairman Peter Brown

People often ask me why I wanted to become Chairman of Chesham United. Why I wanted to take the grief, the hassle, the sleepless nights, and the inevitable criticism that comes with the job. Why do something that takes up so much of my time? And sometimes money. Why do something that you know nobody will thank you for when things will go well, but they will sure as anything blame you when things go wrong? Why do it?

It’s because of people like Fred. It’s because I get to meet people like Fred. People that are warm-hearted, passionate about what they do and leave you smiling when you have finished talking with them… even if they are having a little moan about the game!

In truth, Fred was not a moaner – a bit of a rare breed at the football club. Like all of us, he would be frustrated by poor performances and question some of the decisions on the pitch, but he was very quickly over it and looking forward to the next game. The wins were fantastic, the draws were ok, defeats disappointing, but it was the time spent with friends on a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday Evenings that Fred loved. That we all love.

And Fred had a lot of friends. A walk around the terraces would always take him twice as long as anyone else, not because he was unstable on his feet, but he was constantly stopping to chat to people he knew. Checking how they were or picking up any terrace gossip that might be doing the rounds. Even at away games it was no different, you could guarantee that at some point he would bump into someone that he met years ago and made friends with, stopping for another chat.

It was not just Chesham United Fred loved, it was all local football – every Tuesday and Saturday during the football season you can bet your life that he would be at a match somewhere. If it was not Chesham, then it would likely be either Berkhamsted or Hemel Hempstead Town. To be honest, I started to wonder if it was Fred’s choice or just a case that Ann wanted to get him out of the house for a bit of peace and quiet!

I remember one cold and miserable Tuesday night we went to watch Hemel Hempstead play against Wealdstone. At half-time we popped into the bar – only because it was cold of course, no other reason, although we may have sneaked in a cheeky brandy to warm us up. We were chatting, and then Fred started talking to some other fans, like he always did, and before we knew it, I had to give him a nudge and say, “’ere Fred, we need to get ourselves back out there, the second-half will be well underway by now.”
When we got out, we discovered that the referee had abandoned the match at half-time! “So, Fred,” I said “back to the car or nip into the bar for a night cap?” I’ll let you decide what the answer was.

In truth Fred was not one of the big drinkers, not like some we get at the club – although they tell me it is only to help the club funds. On a Tuesday night he would enjoy a half of Generals (our in-house own beer), or if it was really cold maybe the aforementioned brandy, but on the whole, he took the healthy options when at football. Yes, he loved a sneaky bacon roll – Sorry Ann! – but in fairness, he would always ask for the fat to be cut off first.

It was not just watching football that Fred was good at, back in the day he was not bad as a player. Never quite good enough to get signed up by Chesham United, but he would be out there in the Chesham Sunday League representing Boughtons – I know that because I came up against him as both a player and a referee on several occasions.
Not a typical Sunday League player, he was always one of the good guys, playing with a smile on his face beneath that legendary walrus moustache. Indeed, if anyone did start to get upset and aggressive, Fred would be the one stepping in and telling them to calm down. It was exactly the same if anyone got hurt or injured, he would be the first one over to check that they are ok and offer any help.

In fact, upon reflection all these years later, it seems a little bit harsh that his nickname on the pitch of a Sunday morning was ‘Tubby’ – I imagine you would get in trouble for calling anyone that nowadays!

During his time at Boughtons Fred would often attend Chesham United away matches on the Boughton’s mini-bus. In particular during the 1990’s when I think he must have been at just about every single match played. There was always a story to tell, but perhaps a favourite of mine was on the way to Hendon’s old Claremont Road ground near the bottom of the M1. Navigation was always an issue; remember we are back in the days before smart phones and Sat Nav so it was down to the trusty old AA map and guidance from the passengers for the driver to get everyone to the destination. On this particular day Fred thought he recognised a car in front as containing Chesham United supporters. “Follow that car” he declared, “I know those people, they will get us to the ground, no problem”

The map was closed and the chatting on the minibus continued whilst the driver followed the car in front. Before they knew it the car had stopped at its destination. Unfortunately, it was not Hendon Football Club they had arrived at but was instead Brent Cross Shopping Centre!

I never did find out if he did recognise the people in the car and they had just opted for a shopping stop on the way, or whether it was a case of misidentification. Either way, I bet the minibus was out of the car park as quick as anything and on its way to the football in time for a quick pre-match half of bitter.

In more recent times he would share lifts to away matches with his good friend Gavin Jones. Generous to the last Fred always insisted on paying for Gavin to get into games in return for the petrol. Nowadays that is not always that cheap, at away grounds it can often be £12 or £13 to get into matches. Of course Fred didn’t pay that much, he would insist that Gavin wore a hat and scarf around his neck to cover as much of his face as possible so that he could get in as a discounted Old Age Pensioner. Now I know that Gavin is only 51 and at Chesham we class an OAP as over 65, but amazingly they got away with it for at least ten games on the trot recently!

That reminds me. I must check what sort of season ticket Gavin has bought for this season.

The memories of Fred at Chesham United are numerous and I could stand here for the rest of the day relaying some of the stories, but perhaps the biggest smile I can remember was on 8th November 2015.

It was the FA Cup First Round Proper. Traditionally a weekend off for Chesham having been knocked out of the competition in one of the qualifying rounds, but in this particular year after wins over Aylesbury, Paulton Rovers, North Leigh and Enfield Town we had made it into the hat with the League One and League Two sides. We all hoped to draw a big-name league club, and we got it. Bristol Rovers away.

For all of us connected with the club it was like a dream come true – I’ll be honest, it is financially very rewarding, but that is not what it was about. It was about the smiles on the faces. Over 650 Chesham United supporters made their way to Bristol for the game, squeezed into a corner of the ground where they would sing and shout throughout the 90 minutes. There is nothing better than watching your little non-league football club playing on a Football League Ground I can promise you.

Well actually there is one thing better. Winning against a football league club. And that is what we did on that day. Against all the odds, against a club about 90 places above us in the football pyramid, Ryan Blake scored the only goal of the game to send the Chesham fans completely potty.

I will never forget that day, and more importantly, I will never forget that smile on Fred’s face that I bet did not disappear once for the whole journey back down the M4 – not even that moustache of his could hide it.

We will all miss Fred, and I feel honoured and privileged to be able to say that on behalf of so many people at our football club. Not least the organiser of our Prediction League, a competition we run each year whereby supporters predict the result of every Chesham league match at the start of the season. Fred would always make sure that all his friends and family members entered a team each year – he would have been so pleased to have known that he actually finished second this season.

His last game watching his beloved Chesham United was on March 26th against Poole Town. An exciting 3-2 win. Fred was never the best with technology and allegedly would often pass his phone to someone else to send text message score updates to his brother. I don’t know on this occasion whether it was Fred or someone on his behalf, but after the game he sent a text message to friends and family simply saying: “What a game, I will remember this for many a day.”

I hope and believe that Fred’s passion for football will not leave him now that he has moved on. I would like to finish with a poem by Michael Ashby that seems appropriate on this occasion:

Football’s a match made in heaven
Which is fan-tastic news for me.
And heaven’s a level playing field
Where anyone can kick-off for free.
The referee needs no introduction
Or whistle for a foul to blow.
When God raises his eyebrows
Nobody argues about the penalty or foul throw.
The transfer window never closes
As new players arrive all the time.
There’s always a top team to play on –
As for the kit, I just wish I’d brought mine
We kick off, side by side in a minute
Cheered by old family, teammates and friends.
Football’s really a blast in heaven
After your first whistle, the matches never end.

A Great Man, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandad, Friend and Football Supporter – Fred, we will all remember you for many a day. Thank you for the fabulous memories.
Rest in Peace.