Date: Fri 10 Nov 2023

By Andy Poole


68 years of devotion from Bob Fisher

There are so many stories of long-service throughout the Pitching In Southern League’s four divisions, but few can match that of Hanwell Town Chairman, Bob Fisher, whose involvement with the club stretches back some 68 years!

We let Bob take up the story.

“In 1955 I had left school and had started my first job and was looking to join a football club,” he began. “At the time, I was playing cricket at Ealing Cricket Club, a club that was quite closely aligned to Ealing Association Football Club for whom some of my cricketing mates played.

“However, at the time my sister was courting a guy who played for Hanwell Town and she persuaded me to make contact with that club, which I did.

“I called their secretary, Ron Walker, a Hanwell Town legend, and asked to join and he invited me over to his house to sign the necessary forms. Noting that I had cycled over, he asked if I would deliver, on his behalf, to various houses in the vicinity where the other players lived, a card stating the arrangements for that coming Saturday’s game.

“I agreed to the request and this became a regular habit that I enjoyed. It should be noted that in those days it was not unusual for homes to be without a telephone line, so this was the only way to make contact. Ron’s total dedication to the club certainly rubbed off on me!

“I made my first-team debut on 25th February 1956 in a 4-2 away win against Harrow Weald United. It was the first of my 548 first-team appearances for the club, which included a run of 341 consecutive games from the start of the 1963/64 season to early in the 1973/74 season when I broke my ankle in a game.

“My playing career ended at the end of the 1976/77 season, when I had played a total of 734 games for the club. Most of these games had been played in the Harrow, Wembley and District League or the Middlesex League.

“In 1977/78 somewhat reluctantly I became the club’s first-team manager as I had intended playing into my forties. I continued in this management role until the end of the 1981/82 season.

“For a number of years prior to this our club Chairman, Sam Kelso, Jim Conn and Ron Walker had badgered Ealing Borough Council to find us a ground of our own. Until then we had played at Ealing Central Sports Ground situated across the A40 from our new location.

“Eventually they succumbed to all our pressure and we were offered a lease at Reynolds Field. The only building on site was the clubhouse designed for school children’s use and not for that of a senior football club, but thanks to the remarkable effort of so many volunteers we were able to play our first-ever game at the venue at the start of the 1981/82 season.

“We managed to beat local rivals, Pitshanger Dynamo, 1-0 and this day was one of the proudest moments in my long career at the club.

“Previous to the start of the season, I had commenced the role of President at the club following the untimely death of Jim Conn. I stood down from the management role at the end of the season and we appointed Joe Gadston, who had just stood down from the management role at Ruislip Manor.

“He was a great guy and a friend of mine. To my surprise, he asked for a small payment to take on the role, which was agreed and he became the first-ever paid employee of the club.

“Our next target was to bring the ground and clubhouse up to a standard where we could get senior status as a club and this we achieved for the start of the 1983/84 season.

“Now playing in the Spartan League Senior Division, we won promotion to the Premier Division. I remained in the role of President until 1987 when I took over as Chairman from Sam Kelso and this is a role that I continue to hold to this day, with Dave Iddiols, whose commitment to the club matches mine, becoming President.

“In 1987 I also took on the role of Treasurer, a role that got more and more onerous as the years went by and I stood down from this position a couple of years ago.

“As would be expected, I am intensely proud of all that the club has achieved over the years but am very aware of the many challenges that lie ahead. Our costs go up annually as we try to keep pace with inflation and the other escalating costs of running a football club at the level we are currently playing at.

“Surviving year on year is only possible due to all those who give up their time and effort to keep the club afloat. There are too many to mention them all but this article would be remiss without my naming Nigel Hunt, Clive Cooke, Dhali Dhaliwal, Glyn Jones, Elsa Jones, Stephen Pound, Steve Ives, Russell Simpson, Julian Lyons, Russell Simpson, Bob Hatcher, David Marchant, Jamie and Cidinha Bishop, Lee and Michelle Maiden, Avi Moulton, Colm Hickey, Paul Day-Haynes, Ray Duffy and Malcolm Paice.

“They are all fantastic people who contribute so much behind-the-scenes and are the lifeblood of the club.”

The club joined the Southern League Division One South & West in 2006/07 but were relegated after just one season. They re-joined the Southern League in 2014/15 following promotion into Division One Central.

Finishing seventh at the end of their first season, there followed a season of struggle where they narrowly avoided relegation before securing a mid-table berth in 2016/17. The League was renamed Division One East for 2017/18 and they battled it out in the lower reaches of the table before being moved across to the Isthmian League for four seasons until promotion via the play-offs in 2021/22 saw them take their place in the Southern League Premier South.

Last term they finished 14th and they are looking to build on that this time around. They have four wins from their opening 14 League games so far and face a trip to Hungerford Town on Saturday having drawn four of their last five League games.

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