Eastleigh Football Club held their first ever players reunion last weekend with an invite going out to all players who had worn the Eastleigh/Swaythling Athletic short back to 1946.
Almost 150 past players and committee members took advantage of an evening in the new clubhouse facility at Eastleigh.
Club founder and current President, 93-year-old Derik Brooks would not even let a fall at home earlier in the day, which needed hospital attention the following day on a bruised hip, deter him from making an appearance with his wife Marian, who has been by his side throughout this journey.
The clubs leading all-time appearance maker Ian Knight, 611 appearances, returned to the club for the first time for five years said: “Nice to see so many faces from the past, can see that the club is in the hands of the right people now to take the club further forward.”
Included amongst the other attendees was former player, manager and chairman Roger Sherwood, former manager Trevor Parker who now lives in Portugal and came back especially for the event. Former Eastleigh striker and more recent Bashley and Winchester City manager John Robson, made excuses to leave a wedding to be able to attend.
The Joslin family was well represented on the day as well with John being in attendance for the first part of the event where he met up with several team mates from the 1950s including John Clarkson and Terry Carter through to the 1960s. Soon after John left his son Barry arrived and fell straight into conversation with his ex-team-mates from the 1970s and 80s.
Out of the top ten appearance makers for the club, only Keith Cooper who the club had tried to contact without success, and that are still with us were at the function. It was also good to see ex officials of the club, including Danny Gowans, wife of late manager Don Gowans, Danny having various roles including press officer.
There is already a fate set aside to repeat the reunion in 2018, on Friday 18h May, the net being spread further to invite others who missed out on this occasion. We need to put another call out to John Clarkson who did attend but the club do not have his details so we can get hold of him, if he could contact Secretary Ray Murphy on 07508 431451 it would be appreciated.
The club also took the opportunity to launch ‘The Story So Far 1946-2017’ a history on the club since its formation with many hundreds of players listed throughout, with results, team photos and a wealth of information produced by co-authors Ray Murphy and Gary Day. The book had over a hundred pre-orders and sales on the evening was even more encouraging.
Andy Shaw who had two spells at the club one as a centre half and then again as a centre forward commented: “Thanks very much for the reunion, really enjoyed it, I appreciate all the hard work that goes into organising something like this.” Ray Collins who went on to manage clubs in the Wessex League including Christchurch added: “Thanks for organising the reunion, really enjoyed it met up with some great characters, the book is brilliant well done’.
Ian Ritchie a former Otterborne goalkeeper who is currently attending the Eastleigh over-50s Walking Football brought a copy of the book said: “Hi guys, just a note to say thanks for wasting so much of my time since I picked up a copy of the book ! (in a good way). Although I never played for Eastleigh/Swaythling, they have been an integral part of my footballing life’.
Current Eastleigh supporter Anthony Taylor on social media put: “Well done Ray and Gary. This is better than many a Football League Club history. The annexes are a fantastic source for settling arguments (or bets). For example – which Cub has Swaythling/Eastleigh played the most over the years? The answer surprised me – Brockenhurst ninety-nine times between 1950 and 2007.”
‘The Story So far’ is available from the Club shop at £15 a copy or by post by adding £3 postage and packing