Pete Jones: a fan’s reflections ahead of the final game of the season.
Ahead of our final fixture of the season – one that, as you may well be aware, has a lot riding on it – we asked West fan Peter Jones to write a few thoughts on his relationship with the club. Below, he reflects on the growth he’s seen at the club both at close quarters (his first ever game being a hugely significant one 6 years ago), and from afar (Peter and his family moved to Hebden Bridge a few years ago). He is one of many fans making the journey for our fixture against Ashton Athletic – others include fans flying in from Paris, and from Berlin. It is a journey that may well end in heartache, but regardless of result, Peter believes fans of the club can hold their heads high and have hope in their hearts heading into next season.
As the dust settles on this season, whatever the outcome, West Didsbury and Chorlton are a club we all should be massively proud of.
Our final fixture at home to Ashton is undoubtedly the biggest game since we got promoted to the North West Counties Premier League.
The game that sealed our promotion in 2013 was a home fixture vs Irlam played in front of 62 people. A win would guarantee second place and a topsy turvy battle was decided in the 86 minute when Cal Jones made it 3-2. I often think about the absolute chaos that would have followed had 2013 West had the level of support we have today. There would have been mayhem on the touch line and not a drop of Krombacher left in the M21 postcode. Who knows what Barca Jim would have been shouting through the tannoy at full time!
On a personal note, that 3-2 win was my first ever West game and the progress we’ve seen since is remarkable. James ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson was bored and googled for football teams nearby for me and Paul ‘Musco’ Musco to watch on a free Saturday afternoon. We paid our £5 entry fee (no price rises in six years is remarkable) and have all been hooked ever since with Musco flying in from Berlin for this weekends game. Due to my wife and I having twins and moving to the sticks, the recent Abbey Hey game was my first home game of the season. It was incredible to be back and there being so many people I knew but also so many I have never ever seen at a West game. The support still felt as passionate yet inclusive as ever.
Looking back, the club has developed massively since that promotion. In 2013 we didn’t have the level of support, there was no shed end or Rob Turley stand, there wasn’t even a path on the dugout side of the ground. There was no Women’s team, the youth set up wasn’t anywhere near where it is today and the Hardy Farm pitches weren’t owned by the club either. Yet so many of the committee who run the club today were in place, making prudent decisions to build up a corner of paradise at Brookburn Road.
One member of the committee sadly no longer with us is Rob Turley. He was a remarkable man, intelligent and kind, and he set the vision for the football club so many of us enjoy today be it as a player or supporter. Regardless of the league we start in next season, we all need to remember the progress of the club and we all need to think how we can continue the Turley vision for West. First up is raising the money needed for the extended club house. The last time I spoke with Rob, he had the plans for the club house extension drawn up. He was obviously very ill but you could still see the passion as he asked us for our thoughts. Theres lots of ways to get involved to help make this club house happen, be it by directly contributing or just helping on a match day.
Win, lose or draw, promotion or relegation, we all should be very proud of this football club and determined to make the next few years even more successful.