Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Help the Hatters Update 64

It was with great sadness that we told you in November 2014  that Pauline Coddington had died.
Pauline was a talented Textile Artist specialising in hand carded felted goods and fibre art, and as a member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, taught Felt Making very successfully, and had edited her own blog under her username `Hawkgreenfelts’ and was also a long time valued contributor to this Blog on which she penned many a fine article on a variety of subjects.
For some years Pauline was a much respected part of the Help the Hatters family, supporting the group both financially and via the various Working Parties which she joined in with, and she has been sadly missed by the Help the Hatters family.

Pauline is 7th from the left at the back on this WP pic.
In this somewhat skewed world that we live in, we are used to the dross and hard knocks of every day life, and when…..out of something awful…….a kind gesture emerges to herald a small shaft of unexpected sunlight, we are all the more pleased. I nearly said `surprised’ ….but the particular shaft of unexpected sunlight I refer to comes in the shape of a letter from the Executors of Pauline`s will which advises us that she has left a sum of £5000 to Help the Hatters  amongst her bequests- a typically altruistic final gesture!
We are gobsmacked and not a little grateful and honoured to have been thought of in this way, and we will follow Pauline`s wishes to the letter in using the money.
Pauline’s wishes were specific…..namely that Help the Hatters should spend the money on ` core Help the Hatters activities, ie the Maintenance of Edgeley Park for the fans, the  bringing in of players ( especially young players) to help the team and support the Management Team'- we are most happy to do so!
I make absolutely no apologies for including again one of Pauline`s items from the blog- `I Have a Dream ' from September 2013. 

The return of Halley's comet we may see in years to come.
The return of the Falklands seems a bit far-fetched to some.
The return of Lord Lucan would cause quite a mild furore,
but the return of Edgeley Park would make all three seem a bore.

Luther King dreamt of freedom for a world of black and white.

Dorothy dreamt of the Land of Oz and a wizard she must fight.
Dave Whelan dreamt of the F.A. Cup and Wigan's fight for glory.
My dream would see all County fans write their own unlikely story.

Every terraced stand and turnstile, every brick of white or blue,

every flag and every goal post, every spotlight, every loo,
every blade of rich green grass, every table, every chair,
would be owned by the fans who had each acquired a share.

So let's kick start the dream today, this challenge we must face,

The Supporters' Coop will draft the means to fight an honest case.
Mr Kennedy, if you read this poem, please soften to my plea.
Roll back the years of heartbreak and just hand us back the key!!

Pauline Coddington (A Footballer's guide to Feltmaking)

News next  regarding the Edgeley Park Working Party`s which are progressing nicely, and attracting growing numbers of County Supporters determined to preserve the fabric of their beloved stadium.

Last Thursday , albeit with the added attraction of a couple of well publicised cakes, we had 28 doing the biz for us.

Not a record , but the best turnout this pre-season, and lots was done...... predominantly, but not exclusively, on the Pop Side  where the aisles got some!

On Monday of this week.....

There were no cakes, but still I counted 30 willing County supporters sparing time and energy to help the Club out....

 The team spread out , a decent number, including some welcome new faces....

....got stuck into the lower tiers of the Cheadle End.

The Pop Side got the treatment as well whilst  Alan finished the railings around the home and away dugouts....

Add a touch of Jackson Pollock at the Railway End entrance from yours truly, some light refreshment provided by Jules and Nats who again doubled up working outside and sorting our nourishment, and another brilliant session had concluded.....

So.... ...onwards ...as I say, and the Edgeley Park  WP`s will continue on Monday`s and Thursday until Thursday 16 July 2015, when Help the Hatters will stage a barbecue at the Bungalow to thank all who have helped out . More details closer to the date.

To be repeated 16 July ,but at the Bung !

During the season supporters will notice that Help the Hatters will be trying to persuade fans to sign up , through Help the Hatters, to the Lottery, which we are proud sponsors of this season.
The Gold Bond Lottery benefits the Club enormously, and by committing to a regular payment of a quid a week ( £ 4.33 per calendar month) via ourselves supporters will earn Help the Hatters a significant commission. This sort of income is vital in ensuring we can keep doing the stuff we do, so please consider committing to the Lottery.
Just to give you a flavour of what you are missing by not joining, here`s a pic of my latest massive stroke of good fortune.

Me today.....you tomorrow?

Oh.....and you businesses out their, please note that there is a half page A5 available for your advert in the Results Booklet which goes out in hard copy and on line to the great British public, at a one off cost of  £50 for the season.
Please contact Mike Hopper via    hopsky@aol.com  if you are interested.

Another vital source of income comes from the Car Boot Sales at the Booth Street Car Park  and the next one is on Sunday 12 July.
If you can help out on the day please let Angela know on 07867856394

Finally...members of the Supporters Cooperative should be aware that a Members Meeting is to take place this coming Saturday 4 July at 1.30pm in the Bungalow.Please try to attend if you can.

Ian Brown


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Congratulations George Haigh , County Legend- 100 Today!

It is with immense pride that we salute this morning a true County Legend.
County's oldest surviving former player George Haigh is 100 years old today, and on behalf of County supporters everywhere we wish George the happiest of happy birthdays!

County Historian Marcus Heap attended George`s early birthday party on Saturday, and we are immensely indebted to him for this glorious account of the man and the day.

Another 100 years with this wonderful man please 

by Marcus Heap.

In the late 1990’s, whilst researching former County players, I was working my way through the Stockport phone directory.  I came across the name “G.Haigh” in Marple and wondered if this might be the George Haigh who had played for County nearly 60 years before. It was a long shot, but to a historian this was a normal occurrence – to find these people you simply have to write lots of letters and make lots of calls with the hope that every once in a while you will find the needle in the haystack.

So I picked up the phone and called. I had long since learnt that my joy on finding a former player would be more than matched by the astonishment of the person receiving the call. 
After 60 years, completely out of the blue, you suddenly find a total stranger asking you if you are someone who has played for Stockport County. Well, to my joy the voice on the end of the call confirmed that I had found George Haigh. Since he had left Edgeley Park in 1939, no one had asked George about his career at Edgeley Park and he immediately invited me to come to his house and to have chat.
Some weeks later, with some trepidation and excitement, Ian Watts and I knocked on the door of a house in Marple. We had no idea what this man would be like, would he remember anything about his time at County, would his age have robbed him of his memories? Well we were not to be disappointed. From the first moment of meeting George it was clear this was very special man.  
As a historian my first priority was what he could tell me about the Club, the players he played with and all of the other facts that he could share with me. Even in the late 90’s there were only a handful of former players alive from before World War 2. To my amazement not only could George talk with clarity about this time but as a local boy he had infact played at Edgeley Park in the Stockport Schools Final in 1929. He could describe in detail the changing rooms from the stand that perished in the fire of 1935. As someone who had been at County since he was 17 he had played in the A, B and Reserve teams. He had attended games (most notably the famous 1935  FA Cup 5th round tie v West Bromwich at Edgeley Park  and the Championship winning game against Lincoln in 1937). The man was unique.
We took as much information as we could, we thanked George and his wife Ruth and we asked if we could keep in touch. We hoped we might get a chance to get him back to Edgeley Park for a game and then we left.
In the following year fate then intervened. George’s wife Ruth sadly passed away and I returned to live in the UK. With a job in the South East, I relocated to Hampshire and George moved to Oxfordshire to be closer to his daughter. Suddenly my travels up the M40 meant that I could drop in for a chat and a cup of tea with George. In doing so, I got to know a wonderful man, passionate about his sport, wise and insightful in his advice and surrounded by a great family. Every time we met George would tell me something new about his time at County that hadn’t mentioned before. A story about a player, an overnight away trip or an illicit visit to the greyhounds with his colleagues. Priceless stories that only he could tell.
With this came the opportunity to take George to games and so we would follow County at Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oxford United. 

George watching County at Milton Keynes

 We even went to meet Billy Bocking’s widow, then in her 80’s, George and she knew each other in the 1930’s. George was one of the County players who went to their wedding on a Saturday morning before the groom and his team mates returned to Edgeley Park for a League fixture later that afternoon!
We returned to Edgeley Park once or twice a season with the two most notable occasions being George being guest of honour on New Year’s Day 2002, as County officially started their celebration of 100 years at Edgeley Park. The second occasion was the inaugural SCAN presentation evening when we were all able to witness George being presented with his certificate by County youngest ever player Paul Turnball.

Paul Turnbull presenting to George.

We will not have the pleasure of ever presenting a lower numbered certificate in person to a County player. 

In 2008, George and his family came en masse to support County as they finally tried to lay their Wembley voodoo to rest. There was great celebration as County put Rochdale to the sword and it was wonderful to be with George watching two of his former clubs play more than 60 years after he had appeared for them.
As we all have, in recent years George has watched with sadness the demise of County’s League status. Whilst George has become more frail we have continued to attend games and his local club Brackley Town have become wonderful hosts to George on the occasions County have visited. 

George at Brackley v County 2015.

George remains as passionate as ever, he looks out for the results (bemoaning the fact that we are harder to find on the vidiprinter!) and keeps a keen interest on the goings on at Edgeley Park.
In March 2015, it was wonderful to see George watching County at Brackley, chatting to many of the County fans and he even got a touch of the ball as  he sat in Main Stand.
Today marks the wonderful occasion of his 100th birthday. Over the last 15 years I have had the pleasure to gain George as a friend, to put alongside the incredible fact that he is a historians dream. County are so lucky to have him in our family. Our oldest ever player, the oldest professional footballer alive and he is still watching County play.  Every day in his presence is a joy. At his birthday party on Saturday our conversation covered everything from Walter Lumby (a County player from the 30’s) to George asking me about the whereabouts of the player he met on a visit to Edgeley Park  in 2008 (he had to remind me it was Leon McSweeney!). Sitting with George as he opened all of the wonderful cards he had received from County fans was both a joyous and proud moment. It was special and it encapsulated everything that is great about the County family.

George & just some of the cards from County supporters.
 I hope we will all have many more days with George, this special Stockport man - kicked in training by Alf Lythgoe, advised by a senor pro to have sex every Friday night before a game, our first ever centurion,  the last surviving member of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout and a true gentleman.
 George  was full of questions late in the day.......when are the fixtures out ...... which game will be our next at Edgeley Park?
George.....  I’ll pick you up at 11.00, I’ll provide the transport you just provide the stories. Remind me again….what colour was our away kit in 1938?


Editors Note.

George`s big day, coincides with the birthday of another  County Historian Ian Watts who was born exactly 53 years ago today.

Ian will be celebrating in the Florist from about 6, tonight ( Monday 29th June,  )and as  tribute to George, will undergo a George Haigh tradition namely that of  indulging in his favourite pre-match tonic. 

George told Ian, on one of his visits - when sat in the Florist - that he enjoyed a pint of Guinness with a schooner of port in it!

If you fancy joining Ian in a  toast to George , you will be most welcome, to join him.