I am pleased to report that things have started to progress with the new floodlights this week with the electrical circuits and pylon bolts having been inspected, next week the pylons themselves will be thoroughly inspected in the hope that the new lights will be in place by the time of our first home pre-season friendly against Hemel Hempstead Town on Tuesday 26th July.

Prices have been set for our two home friendlies this summer (the other being against Wycombe Wanderers on Friday 29th July) with an extra discount available for purchasing tickets for the matches in advance. Pre-booked prices will be £6 adults, £5 concessions and £3 for 12-18 year olds. Advanced tickets sales will be available up until 6 hours before the game, after that they will be available at the turnstiles as normal at £8, £6 and £4 respectively. Under 12’s can attend all games free of charge.

Tickets will be available from Monday 4th July, at both games the clubhouse and outside bar will be open to serve refreshments and I am delighted to say that Bill’s Diner will be back for the season ahead selling what are surely the best burgers in the league.

Earlier this week you may well have seen that we announced our new kit and shirt sponsors for the forthcoming season, which sees a return to a predominantly claret & blue shirt, which I know is a popular decision.

The front of the shirt will carry the name of Castlemore – the clubs preferred choice of building surveyors, designers and builders for the proposed new ground. We have been liaising with Castlemore since August last year and have been impressed with what they have to offer and their commitment to the project already, both financially and in time.

The away kit for the club remains yellow and black with a revamped design for 2022/23 season. Replica shirts are expected to be available from the club and the club shop in time for the start of the new campaign. But in the meantime, to make sure you get your shirt in time for the first league game we have ordered nine extra shirts which we will have for sale at £37 with pick up from the club in both home and away colours with sizes up to 2 x XL. Get your orders in now to retail@cheshamunited.co.uk. There is no postage charge but be quick – we already have some registered interest.

This week also saw the first monthly draw for the Claret Club business members with local solicitors Coyle White Devine being the first out of the hat and winning the right to have their name on the reverse of the kits for the forthcoming season. We are delighted to be able to promote our local sponsors – the name on the back of the shirt is just the first of our monthly draws for our Claret Club members, later this month we will be carrying out the next draw for a free perimeter board at The Meadow for the season ahead.

I would like to say a big thank you to all twelve of our Claret Club members that have signed up nice and early, we look forward to working with you more throughout the season ahead. Likewise a big thank you to all our sponsors that have renewed so far, you have been keeping the commercial team busy which is fantastic news!

This week I have been having conversations about having our main club website revamped ahead of the new season, I want us to be able to use the site to not only promote the football and matchday activity, but it should also be a platform to be able to give more visibility and support to those local businesses that have been kind enough to support the club. I have now given the go ahead for a new site to be built and I look forward to seeing that progress over the coming weeks.

We are also having an increasing number of enquiries about using our facilities at The Meadow as we look to extend the appeal of the club beyond just football supporters. This week I had a Zoom Meeting with the producers of Taskmaster, discussing the possibility of filming a full show at The Meadow later this year, and next month we will be hosting the National Film School from Beaconsfield as part of their end of year plans whilst they are making a short 15-minute film in the local area.

In a win-win situation we were also delighted to host the local fire brigade at the club this week as they ran a training session for what would happen in the event of a fire at The Meadow. It was an awesome site watching these local professionals in action with their hose runs and spraying practices, it is reassuring to know that these people are on hand for any fire that may start in the Chesham area.

The timing of the practice could not have been better either, after a very hot and dry week, 10,000 additional litres of water being sprayed on the pitch did wonders for the grass! On that subject, a huge thank you to everyone that has helped with the moving of the sprinklers throughout the week, the pitch is looking so much better than it did at the end of last season when it was effectively “dead”. Let’s hope it sees some entertaining football on it this forthcoming season.

Football for the 2021/22 season has now officially ended with the Academy year coming to an end. It has been a pleasure to have these young people at our club and for those that are moving on we wish you the very best for the future.

Weeding party at the club this weekend on Saturday from 9am. Tea and coffee will be supplied so if we get many in with your own bucket, hand fork or trowel the ground will start to look like a Football Stadia again. More hands make light work. We also need a strimming party out the back of the club as it is starting to look like a hay field! Come on peeps let get it done before too long.

Have a great weekend and thank you for your support.

Peter Brown, Chairman

We are pleased to be able to share details of our new kit and sponsors for the forthcoming season as we make a return to the more traditional predominantly Claret & Blue kit.

The front of the shirt will carry the name of Castlemore – the clubs preferred choice of building surveyors, designers and builders for the proposed new ground. Chairman Peter Brown explained, “We have been liaising with Castlemore since August last year and have been impressed with what they have to offer and their commitment to the project already, both financially and in time.”

This week also saw the first monthly draw for the Claret Club business members with local solicitors Coyle White Devine being the first out of the hat and winning the right to have their name on the reverse of the kits for the forthcoming season. “We are delighted to be able to promote our local sponsors” adds Peter, “The name on the back of the shirt is just the first of our monthly draws for our Claret Club members, later this month we will be carrying out the next draw for a free perimeter board at The Meadow for the season ahead. I would like to say a big thank you to all twelve of our Claret Club members that have signed up nice and early, we look forward to working with you more throughout the season ahead.”

The away kit for the club remains yellow and black with a revamped design for 2022/23 season. Full details and image of the kits can be seen below with replica shirts expected to be available from the club and the club shop in time for the start of the new campaign. But in the meantime to make sure you get your shirt in time for the first league game we have ordered 9 extra shirts which we will have for sale at £37 with pick up from the club in both home and away colours with sizes up to 2 x XL. Get your orders in now to retail@cheshamunited.co.uk. There is no postage charge!!

I am delighted to be able to start this week by announcing that our management duo, James Duncan and Michael Murray, have signed with the club for a further two years. This is fantastic news and gives us the stability to plan for the future and also sends out a strong message to our playing squad that we back our managers at Chesham United. Football at all levels can be brutal, but particularly in non-league level where very few players are on actual contracts, it is important to show loyalty and integrity, the reputation of a football club goes a long way towards attracting the right type of player. Being true to your word, paying wages on time and providing a decent playing surface and facilities are part of the package; it need not be all about money. I would like to think we tick all those boxes.

With the management secure, I know they are working hard to develop the squad and there will be player announcements over the coming weeks, as I have mentioned before, we tend not to be a club that makes big announcements early, preferring to keep our cards close to our chest until the time is right.

Following on from the League AGM last week we are informed that the league fixtures will be released week commencing 2nd July, which does not leave us much preparation time before the league campaign kicks off on 6th August. I am never quite sure why we have to wait so long for the fixtures after the leagues have been ratified, but it always seems to be the case and that is completely out of our control. With some long trips in the pipeline, it can make booking travel an issue if we end up with a long trip whilst still in the school holidays.

Talking of long trips, following the resignation of Walton Casuals from the league it has been confirmed that Merthyr Town will no longer be relegated from our league, meaning we will still have a journey across the border next season. For the club and players it is a long day, but actually deep down many of us, and our supporters, will put down a trip to Merthyr Tydfil as one of our favourite away days – a warm welcome and just a fantastic club to visit. Indeed I believe Merthyr were recent winners of the Football Supporters Association Away Day of the Year 20221/22 for our level of football. Congratulations and fully deserved.

This week we have ordered the new playing shirts and tracksuits with the sponsors of both to be announced on Sunday when we will be making the draw for the company name to go on the back of the shirt from our Claret Club members. Watch this space.

Prior to that, on Saturday we will be finishing painting the white safety lines on the terraces, but there is still plenty of work to do painting the wooden tops of the perimeter boards – any volunteers always welcomed.

Flights permitting, we will be operating with a skeleton Board next week as members of the Board jet off on well-deserved holidays, back in time for our pre-season friendlies when the excitement for the new season really begins to build up.

Thank you for your support.

Peter Brown, Chairman

This week our league received the sad news that one of our opponents in the Southern League Premier South, Walton Casuals, took the decision to manage the closure of their club and they will no longer be existing as a football club next season. A very sad day for the players, supporters and officials of that club and our heart-felt thoughts go out to everyone connected with Walton Casuals.

We often talk about the frailties of finance in non-league football and this is another example of just how close to the brink many clubs can find themselves. Huge credit to those at Walton Casuals who have made the very difficult decision to do this rather than carry on running a club that builds up huge amounts of debt. They are going out with no liabilities or indebtedness, and that for that they should be applauded. Still very sad. With Walton’s decision, that did leave our league temporarily one club short however this afternoon we received the news that Walton will be replaced in the league by Merthyr Town who have been given a reprieve after finishing 2nd bottom last season.

At Chesham United we know the club has sailed close to the wind on many occasions, but we are fortunate to have some excellent facilities and a good home support base that puts us in a good position to manage the finances of the rest of the club. This might be a good point to thank everyone that has already purchased their season ticket for the 2022/23 season, we are well on track for breaking all recent records for season ticket holders which is fantastic news – thank you for your loyalty and support.

A big thank you also to all the local businesses that are supporting the club, our commercial team have been very busy as we look on course to hit our income budget, we even have a floodlight sponsor signed up for the new season.

We will soon start to take bookings for player sponsorship, priced at just £50 for either home kit sponsorship or away kit sponsorship for your favourite player. Players will be allocated on a first come, first served basis although last season’s sponsors for each player will get their chance to sponsor that player again first. If you are interested, please email commercial@cheshamunited.co.uk.

Whilst the income is all good news, we have also been splashing out a considerable amount of money to improve the playing surface at The Meadow. We have now spent over £10,000 on the pitch repair and maintenance, fully aware that it needs to be in the best condition possible to match our promotion ambitions and still host the Ladies and Aylesbury United on our home ground. By the end of next season the cost of pitch maintenance will have topped £20,000 – a 30% increase on last season.

I am led to believe that all stag weekends and marriages are now completed for the summer within the playing squad as they prepare for a return to training. This coming Sunday the Board are meeting with the managers to discuss the plans for the season ahead, the current status of the playing squad and latest signings, as mentioned previously, any player announcements will be made at the appropriate time.

This weekend sees the Southern League AGM in Worcester on Saturday, unfortunately I will now be unable to attend. You must be bored by now of hearing about the latest illnesses within the boardroom, well this week I have been the one who has been unwell and ended up spending Tuesday afternoon and evening at the doctors trying to get a solution to the problem. As a result I will be unable to travel to the AGM, but fortunately we have been able to draft in a replacement attendee otherwise there would have been a £500 fine. heading our way! Any interesting news from the meeting will be shared with you next week.

There is no official work party this Saturday, but a number of us will be back at 9.00am on Sunday morning to finish the white lines on the terraces and the remaining tops of the wooden rails around the ground – if anyone would like to join us you will be more than welcome.

Thank you for your support.

Peter Brown, Chairman

I will not take up much of your reading time this week as I hope you are enjoying an extended Bank Holiday weekend and any plans you have to celebrate the jubilee.

That said, if you are not really into street parties, want to get out of the house or would just like to offer some of your free time to help out around the club with any summer tidy-up and repairs around The Meadow, I would love to hear from you!

A big thank you also to those volunteers that have done a cracking job of painting the white lines around the terraces, it is looking excellent, but we are still looking for volunteers for further improvements including painting the goalposts and weeding around the place. We are also looking to replace and paint all the wooden tops on the pitch perimeter so anyone with a small saw and/or electric drill we would love to hear from you – we have the screws and wood available.

If you are not much of a handy person, but would still like to get involved or have any free time that you would like to give, please do get in touch, I am sure there will be many ways you can help to make a positive difference to our club, email me at chairman@cheshamunited.co.uk.

We now know our pre-season fixtures ahead of the 2022/23 campaign. Seven full first team friendlies plus a Chesham XI game have been confirmed, beginning on Saturday 9th July with a visit to the Middlesex FA’s Rectory Park to take on Egham Town (Combined Counties Premier Division South) before visits to Bedfont Sports on Saturday 16th July (Isthmian Division 1 South Central) and Berkhamsted (Southern Division 1 Central) on Tuesday 19th July.

Saturday 23rd July sees us in a double header as we travel to Risborough Rangers (Spartan South Midlands Premier Division) to mark the occasion of the opening of their newly built stand, and a Chesham XI travels just up the hill to Amersham Town for the John Hearn Trophy.

We have two home friendlies with the visits of Vanarama South side Hemel Hempstead (Tuesday 26th) and EFL League One side Wycombe (Friday 29th) to the Meadow, our first chance to play on our renovated playing surface which by then will be unrecognisable from the tail end of last season.

Our final pre-season friendly will be on Tuesday 2nd August, away to Uxbridge (Isthmian Division 1 South Central) at Honeycroft. The Southern League Premier Division South season then starts on Saturday 6th August, and we would normally expect these fixtures to be announced in early July, but you can at least for now put these friendly dates in your diary.

On Tuesday we said farewell to our beloved supporter Fred Wallis with standing room only available at the crematorium where I felt privileged to read a eulogy remembering Fred on behalf of everyone at Chesham United. I was very proud to be able to talk about such a great supporter and from the acknowledgements I received afterwards, I know my feelings and memories were shared by many in attendance.

Have a fantastic extended weekend everyone and thank you for your continued support. We are making progress and I have been particularly touched by a number of kind comments and emails that have been received recently. It often feels like a thankless task, but it is reassuring to learn that more and more people are sharing our vision.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Brown, Chairman

Seven full first team friendlies plus a Chesham XI have been confirmed as the Generals ramp up preparations for the 2022-2023 Southern League Premier Division South season.

Chesham begin pre-season on the road with a Sat 9th July visit to the Middlesex FA’s Rectory Park to take on Egham Town (Combined Counties Premier Division South) and a visit to Rayners Lane FC to take on Northwood on Tues 12th July before a further two away friendlies against Bedfont Sports on Sat 16th July (Isthmian Div 1 South Central) and Berkhamsted (Southern Div 1 Central) on Tues 19th July.

Saturday 23rd July sees a double header for the Generals as we travel to Risborough Rangers (Spartan South Mids Premier Division) to open their newly built stand and a Chesham XI travels just up the hill to Amersham Town for the John Hearn Trophy.

Before starting our home friendlies with the visits of Vanarama South side Hemel Hempstead (Tues 26th) and EFL League One side Wycombe (Fri 29th) to the Meadow, as we get a chance to see this year’s Generals side on the renovated Meadow surface.

Before our final pre season friendly on Tues 2nd August is away to Uxbridge (Isthmian Div 1 South Central) at Honeycroft. The Southern League Premier Division South season then starts on Saturday 6th August, and we would normally expect fixtures to be announced in early July.

 

Full pre-season schedule:

Saturday 9th July, Egham Town (A), KO TBC @ Rectory Park

Tuesday 12th July, Northwood (A), KO TBC @ Rayners Lane FC

Saturday 16th July, Bedfont Sports (A), KO TBC

Tuesday 19th July, Berkhamsted (A), KO TBC

Saturday 23rd July, Risborough Rangers (A), KO TBC

Saturday 23rd July, Amersham Town v Chesham XI (A), KO TBC

Tuesday 26th July, Hemel Hempstead Town (H), 7:30pm

Friday 29th July, Wycombe Wanderers (H), 7.30pmu

Tues 2nd August, Uxbridge (A), KO TBC

 

Ticket prices are TBC but will be available online via the Online Ticketing portal. Tickets will also be available at the turnstile on match day.

Happier news to start with this week as we offer our congratulations to our Joint Manager, Michael Murray, who finally got married yesterday after two cancellations during the pandemic – we wish you both many happy years ahead.

Whilst most of us have moaned about the weather this past week, our newly spread grass seeds on the pitch have been loving the rainfall that has accompanied sunny spells. The grass seed planted just nineteen days ago has germinated and come through the sand already. There is a huge amount of new grass and is already looking good, by the start of the season I am very confident we will have an excellent playing surface to be proud of. All being well, today it will have had its first small cut and light roll.

As mentioned previously, we are going to have to be much stricter on the level of usage we allow on the main pitch this season and the likelihood is now that we will have just two home pre-season friendlies before the season kicks off, these are currently planned to be against Hemel Hempstead Town on Tuesday 26th July and Wycombe Wanderers on Friday 29th July.

A big thank you to the significant number of people that have taken advantage of the early bird seasonal membership packages, based on feedback we have extended this to the end of the month, 31st May, to give those that get paid on the last day of the month a chance to purchase.

Unlike many clubs, we do not tend to make a lot of noise about player signings because in truth, unless you are putting them on a contract, the league forms are not available to be signed yet and any player announcement can very easily backfire. We have always liked to keep our cards a lot closer to our chest, but I can promise you that the team being put together by our management is very exciting and we will go into the new campaign with hopes and expectations of continuing on from where we left off at the end of last season.

Although the last game of the season win over Wimborne Town seems a long time ago, the football season has not yet completely finished for Chesham United. Our Academy team have made it through to the final of the ESPFA Cup Final where they will take on Runcorn Linnets at Stafford Town FC on Tuesday 14th June, 1pm kick-off. If you happen to be travelling to Wolverhampton to watch England play Hungary that evening, why not make a day of it and call in to this game in the afternoon – your support would be most welcomed!

A big thank you also to those volunteers that have done a cracking job of painting the white lines around the terraces, it is starting to look really good. We are still looking for volunteers to help finish the job as well as painting the goalposts and weeding around the place. We are also looking to replace and paint all the wooden tops on the pitch perimeter so anyone with a small saw and/or electric drill we would love to hear from you – we have the screws and wood available.

The floodlights have been ordered, although we have been advised to expect a delay on the installation as the war in Ukraine and lockdown in Shanghai affects material supplies. I am hopeful that they will be installed by the end of July, but have been advised that this may roll over into August. Either way, we will be starting the season in our new kit, the full reveal of this will follow in the next week or so. For the pre-season friendlies we will be wearing our claret & blue third kit from last season.

On the subject of kit, we will be holding our first Claret Club Draw in the second week of June to announce the name that will appear on the back of the shirt. We have this week received printed copies of our 2022/23 sales and marketing brochure that includes details of the Claret Club amongst other opportunities, these will be distributed and used by the commercial team, a digital version is available from here.

A final reminder that the funeral of our much-loved supporter, Fred Wallis, will take place at the Amersham Crematorium at 3.15pm next Tuesday, 31st May.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Brown, Chairman

Very sad news this week as 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 minibus to matches.

There was always a story to tell – many of them perhaps not appropriate for public consumption, but perhaps a favourite I was told about 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! I think many of us will have fond memories of Hendon’s old ground and I am sure they were not the only ones to have ended up in the wrong lane when reaching the bottom of the M1 on the way to that fantastic old ground.

Fred will of course have remembered the 1968 FA Amateur Cup Final fondly and it was wonderful to hear that the remaining players from that great side have come together to organise a claret & blue reef for the funeral – true recognition of what a great supporter, and what a great loss Fred is. The funeral takes place on Tuesday 31st May, 3.15pm, at Amersham Crematorium.

Whilst the majority of our players are enjoying a well-earned rest, our congratulations go to Jeanmal Prosper who made his international debut for Dominica last Sunday, playing alongside his brother in defence in a 3-1 friendly win over St Vincent and the Grenadines – I wonder if he could arrange a pre-season friendly for us in the Caribbean whilst he is out there!

Talking of friendlies, we are still in the process of making contacts and developing our list of matches. As we know, the days of being able to attractive first team squads from the top level of the game are long gone as they head off to the States and the Far East to play in much more lucrative fixtures, albeit often against teams from their own league. It always amazes me how the top professional clubs seem to suffer the most from tired players, yet happily trot off all around the world for friendlies – I guess that is what money has done to football. It’s the world we live in, but we have to get used to it.

We will however have some good competitive games to look forward to, and I for one cannot wait. Of course the league season is not over for everyone and it would be remiss of me not to wish our neighbours Wycombe Wanderers all the very best in their play-off final at Wembley tomorrow – what an occasion that will be against such a massive club as Sunderland. No doubt there will be a huge following from Buckinghamshire heading up the M40 – successful or not, remember, we will be hosting a friendly whether it be against a League One or Championship side as part of our pre season. We are also hosting Hemel Hempstead!!

I am also delighted to confirm that we will once again be partnering with the Bucks Mind charity for the 2022/23 and already have our first fundraising event planned. There will be a concert at St Mary’s Church in Chesham where, along with the Chess Valley Male Voice Choir, we will be privileged to be accompanied by the internationally acclaimed Treorchy Male Choir. Seriously, if you have not heard these guys sing before you will be well and truly gobsmacked by their spine-tingling performance. Watch this space.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Brown, Chairman

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.

 

This week saw the league structures for next season announced and, subject to any appeals that may affect us, we now know that we will once again be in the Southern League Premier South for 2022/23.

As mentioned last week, geographically we are on the border of a couple of divisions at our level in the non-league pyramid. Each year, after promotion and relegation, there are always teams that switch leagues across the pyramid to ensure that travel times are minimised as much as possible for all clubs. As an example, one of our most local league opponents last season, Kings Langley, have moved into the Southern League Central division next season.

What does that mean? Basically Kings Langley will be making most of their away trips northwards to play clubs in the midlands and northern home counties whilst we travel to teams on the west side of London such as Harrow, Hendon, Hanwell, Hayes & Yeading as well as plenty of much longer trips west to the likes of Plymouth Parkway, Weston-Super-Mare, Dorchester, Truro, Tiverton and Winchester – some fantastic away trips for supporters, not always so logistically great for getting players to the matches, particularly on a Tuesday night.

Ahead of the new season we will be having just three home pre-season friendlies to minimise impact on the pitch ahead of another long season for the grass. We are currently finalising those matches, and the away games, with one of the home fixtures likely to be against Hemel Hempstead Town from the National League South.

Speaking of the pitch, it has now had its 120 tonnes of sand deposited and is being regularly watered to help the seeds thrive and provide us with the perfect playing surface. A big thank you, as always, to Craig Ringsell for his passion and commitment to maintaining our pitch – I know he must find it frustrating how many games get played at The Meadow, but everyone at Aylesbury United, the Ladies, the Academy and of course the First XI is extremely grateful for the effort.

It would not be my weekly notes without an appeal for volunteer helpers, this week I am very keen to hear from anyone that can spare some time to do some odd jobs around the ground ahead of a routine health & safety inspection that takes place on 1st July. As much as I am confident in the safety of the ground, when you have an older stadium there is always the risk of the odd thing being picked up on an inspection and I want to be sure that we have everything in order ahead of the inspection and ahead of our next matches at The Meadow. If you can help, please contact me at chairman@cheshamunited.co.uk.

Just prior to that inspection, the last week of June, we will be having the new floodlights installed which is exciting news, you know the story and background to that by now I am sure and needless to say we would still very much welcome any donations you or anyone you know may like to make. Full details can be found on the GoFundMe page here.

Later this month we have our regular board and management meeting, we are currently in conversation with two potential new directors of the club – this is very much a priority going into the new season as we still remain spread very thin in the boardroom and being able to share some of the responsibilities will enable us to move forward at a greater pace.

In non-football news the club is once again being used for the filming of the latest series of Endeavour if you start to see film crews around and wonder what is going on – unfortunately it is not a documentary about Chesham United being made!

A final reminder that this is the last week to take advantage of the discounted Early Bird season tickets for the next campaign, if you have not yet done so, please do take advantage of the significant discount available.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Brown, Chairman