Category: Features

Harry celebrates his 500th match anniversary

Just in case you don’t know Harry Newton, he is a young man from Dinton, near Salisbury. He supports Salisbury FC and prior to that he followed the old club Salisbury City FC. Just another football fan, I hear you say. Well, not quite.

Harry sits in a motorized wheelchair. He has no use of his legs and limited use of his arms. His speech sounds a little laboured and it would be easy to dismiss him as ‘disabled’. However, we don’t think he is ‘disabled’ at all. We think he is special. Not special because he sits in a wheelchair or because he supports football but because he is an inspiration. An inspiration to other wheelchair users and to so-called ‘normal’ people.

His determination to not let his condition get in the way of a fulfilled life is humbling. He spends his days working as a volunteer for the South Wiltshire Advocacy Network helping other people cope with their problems. He boasts an enviable collection of BTEC qualifications with distinction, is a member of the Hampshire Cricket Club and a volunteer on the Wiltshire Cricket Board. In 2010, he became the first wheelchair user ever to qualify as a cricket umpire.  He loves his cricket almost as much as football live at the RayMac or at Salisbury away fixtures. He hardly ever misses a Salisbury game and when he does, it is usually not by choice but through lack of support. Harry can’t drive to matches himself. He always needs a trusted person to help him.

Many of us, would we find ourselves in his condition, might give up or become bitter and twisted. Not so Harry. You won’t find a nicer, more outgoing and optimistic personality. Have a chat with him at the next match. He loves to talk football, cricket, sport or any other subject. Yes, sometimes the dark blanket of depression gets hold of him but his firm believe in God helps him through those difficult periods. Next Saturday, on 25th March, Harry will celebrate attending his 500th Salisbury football club game and he has loved every one of them good, or bad. In his own words:

“It all started nearly 10 years ago when I was on half term from my specialist boarding school Treloars and boredom was starting to set in. A friend of mine who used to be a supporter of the old club suggested I visited Salisbury City FC to watch a few matches in holiday time. As I was only ever involved with league football I was a bit hesitant about making the massive leap down the pyramid. On that fateful day away to Team Bath at Twerton Park on Saturday 25th October 2008 I fell in love with non-league football. 

I have spent my life in a wheelchair due to being born prematurely resulting in Cerebral Palsy because of this I thought watching non-league football would become an issue. Much to my surprise I soon discovered that at this level of football the facilities were a lot better than expected. Clubs do try their level best wherever possible to enhance your match day experience, making sure your needs are catered for. All of this meant that I could attend more than just home games. I have had a few hurdles to jump over but nothing, I might add, has felt unsurmountable. This has now become a permanent fixture in my life and both clubs have become part on my DNA. I have now got to a mini milestone with both clubs combined and I will be reaching my 500th game on the 25th of March 2017 at home to Hereford.”

 Congratulations, Harry. We look forward to watching the next 500 with you.

A truely lifelong supporter – Pete Blake

If you are reading this you are probably a Salisbury FC supporters and most likely you’ve been coming to the RayMac for a long time but do you know who Peter Blake is? No? Would it help if I said he used to be a professional drummer for Clive Shane & the Avengers for 7 years way back in the sixties? Or would it help if I said he’s a passionate cyclist? How about if I said that he’s been to most Salisbury home matches for the last 70 years ever since his parents dragged him along at the age of 4? Or if I claimed that he’s been working as a volunteer for the Salisbury football club for over 40 years and still does, week in, week out, without fail?

If you still don’t know who he is, it’s probably because you’re either too young to remember the Victoria Park days or you don’t belong to the VIP crowd in Anya’s lounge. Pete manages the bar in Anya’s for the corporate guests on match days and has done so ever since the Raymond McEnhill stadium opened its turnstiles. He is well liked among his regulars for his friendly and welcoming character.

Born during the war in 1943 in St Marks Road, Pete grew up just a few minutes’ walk from Victoria Park. His parents started supporting the original Salisbury FC when it was first founded in 1947 and were regular volunteers for the club. Obviously, little Pete had to come along and he soon was a passionate young supporter himself. By the age of 10, he started going on his own or with his mates. When he was 16 he joined a band as the drummer and for the next 7 years, he played all over the country with Clive Shane & the Avengers. He also did an apprenticeship as a mechanic at the same time. This didn’t leave an awful lot of time for watching the Whites but he soon returned. When his career as a drummer came to an end he sold his drum kit to Mick Wilson from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich who put it to good use during their successful career.

Back at Victoria Park, Pete was asked one day by Malcolm Bunn to watch the bar in the Pavillion for a moment while he had to take care of something else. Instead of just watching the bar, Pete started serving punters and that was the beginning of his 40 or so years of working for Salisbury FC and Salisbury City. He attended every home match and worked behind the bar each game. When the football club moved to the RayMac he followed but from now on he would work in the corporate area away from the main crowd.

Pete got married to his second wife Dorothy in May 1977, which means it will be their 40th wedding anniversary and he’s got two daughters and three grandchildren of which he is very proud.

During his time with Salisbury, Pete has seen whole generations of board members, staff and players come and go. Some have left a more lasting impression than others, not always for the right reasons. Some of the players who have impressed him most were Kevin Dawtry, Tommy Patterson and more recently Tommy Wright.

Football is definitely in Pete’s blood. He worked for Porton Down for 42 years and played football during every lunch break. And when he isn’t working for Salisbury FC, he’s supporting Burnley on the TV and he tries to attend as many Salisbury away matches as possible.

This coming August will mark his 70th anniversary of supporting this football club and if you haven’t met him in person, say ‘hello’ to him, next time you bump into him at a match. Volunteers like Pete are the very fabric that nonleague clubs like Salisbury are made of and we are proud to call him our friend.

Behind the Scenes – The Club Shop

If you’re a regular Salisbury FC supporter you will probably know many of the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to enable each match day to run smoothly but if you’re still relatively new you might like to meet some of them. Today we introduce you to Martin & Lynn Robinson who run the club shop. You will see them on your way into the stadium standing in front of the club shop, selling their wares in all wind and weather.

Martin was born in Salisbury and his love of Salisbury Football Club started through his Granddad who was the caretaker of the Salisbury FC Supporters Club on Stratford Road, Salisbury. Lynn was born in Aldershot and then travelled all over the place as her father was in the army. After 21 years abroad, Lynn returned to Hampshire and settled in Barton Stacey. This was where she and Martin met through friends, the local pub and football team. Her love of Salisbury Football Club started when Martin took her to the RayMac for their first date on New Year’s Day 1998. (Martin always did have a romantic nature!) If you ask Martin, he will tell you he paid for everything that day and is still paying now! They married in 2003 and are now living just outside Winchester.

Both Martin and Lynn have followed Salisbury together ever since that first date and over the past 19 years, they have been involved with the club in a variety of roles. Lynn had a short stint on the management committee and then they both ran the supporters trust for a couple of years. Some of you may remember an evening with Stuart Pearce, which the Supporters Trust organised to raise funds for the club.

Ever since the shop was refurbished 18 years ago and the product range expanded to include more than just programmes and badges, Martin and Lynn have been a permanent fixture in the shop. They have seen many changes both on and off the pitch, and have ridden the rollercoaster along with all the other fans of Salisbury Football Club over the years. They also go to virtually every away game all over the country. Over the years, they’ve made friends with many of the players and many of the fans. If you haven’t met them personally yet, why not stop at the shop before the next match and say ‘hello’.