The Oswestry Town campaign, supported by the Advertizer has been taking fans on a walk down memory lane in recent weeks with feature stories and photographs from key moments in its history.
Bill (87) was the last Chairman in charge at Oswestry Town FC, before their merger with Total Network Solutions (Llansantfraidd) in 2003. He was also the first person to take an English club into the Welsh League.
Born in Churchstoke, Bill moved to Oswestry in 1959 when he bought a dairy farm near Hindford with wife Myra and daughters Lynne, Christine and Angela. His own footballing career was cut short at the age of 25 when he suffered two breaks in his leg playing for his hometown team of Churchstoke.
“I still remember the day it happened. Kick off was at 7pm and by 7.03pm I was on the ground waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I actually didn’t get to the Orthopaedic hospital until 12.30am because the ambulance driver wanted to stop for a few pints on the way to hospital! That would never happen nowadays of course, it was a different time back then.”
After scaling down his farming duties, Bill took the reins at Oswestry Town in 1999, following the team’s move to the Park Hall stadium. “I didn’t have a choice really, everyone voted for me to take over, so that was it. I had to put my hand in my pocket quite a bit to keep them going. I can’t tell you how much I spent though, in case my wife reads this!
“The first year I took over we won the Cymru Alliance League, lost in the final of the League Cup 1-0 to Welshpool and won the North East Wales Cup for the first time. We got promoted to the League of Wales.
“Our first season in the League of Wales started well, we were top of the league after just four games and we beat TNS in the League Cup. They were a tough team to beat, even back then.”
As the final Chairman in charge, Bill remembers the struggle to keep the club afloat towards the end. “We were struggling financially, not getting enough supporters through the gates – only about 200 per game – the interest in the club seemed to have gone and I was looking for a way to sustain it.
“It was me that first suggested to my vice chairman, Brian Barnfield that perhaps Mike Harris (then Chairman at Total Network Solutions in Llansantffraid) might be interested in joining with us as an investor at the club. I knew they were outgrowing their ground and would be looking for somewhere to expand to. We never got chance to approach Mike before he put an offer in for the club. It took us by surprise a bit. But didn’t he make a perfect job of it!” Bill said, referring to the Park Hall ground.
“It’s certainly a different place than it used to be. I was with Oswestry Town until its merger and I still follow them now, although they’re called The New Saints now of course. I don’t miss many matches, home or away!
“My favourite player is Paul Harrison, he’s a real class player with a great attitude. I still cheer on Steve Evans too, who I wanted to sign as an Oswestry Town player when he was a young lad. They (TNS) wouldn’t let us though! We had him on loan for six weeks and he went back to them a better player than when he came to us.”
The New Saints of Oswestry Town are celebrating their history all this month (February) with a series of stories, competitions and events.
The culmination of the campaign will be a reunion event held at The Venue in February. Any fans, players or staff from Oswestry Town FC can get in touch with the club by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve their place.