WHEN Keith Claridge started his love affair with his town football team, the sporting landscape was a different world.
The European Cup was in its infancy and had only ever been won by Real Madrid, the world transfer record was £93,000 and English football was dominated by the likes of Burnley, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday.
Mr Claridge, who retired this summer after 54 years with Charlbury Town FC, said that the biggest change was that, back then, there were fewer things for youngsters to do.
He said: “The interest isn’t there now because there’s a lot more things for youngsters to do so they don’t all show the interest.
“They start at eight so by the time they get to men’s football they want to do other things.
“I don’t think it’s as competitive as it used to be – there’s still some good players but it’s not as evenly matched.
“The league was bigger and everyone showed more commitment then.
“Running a team is also a lot dearer now – years ago people used to do things voluntarily but there’s fewer people involved now.”
Mr Claridge, 69, started playing for the club’s boys’ team aged 15 in the Witney and District Minor League in 1960.
He graduated to the men’s team when he was 18, playing right wing-back, inside right and right wing.
He was part of the first Charlbury team to win the Witney and District League Premier Division in the 1970s before retiring in his late 30s.
After about two years away from the game, he returned as manager for the youth and men’s sides, before taking up a secretary role.
The self-employed decorator, who works with his wife Janette, was given the Doug Margetts Award, handed out by Witney and District FA for long service.
Mr Claridge, who has four children and two grandchildren, said: “I got involved because I lived in Charlbury and years ago you had to play within a five-mile radius of where you lived, so you tended to stay in the same village.
“Being manager was difficult because people drop out on a Saturday morning and you struggle to find a replacement.
“I’ve met a lot of people through football and I’ll quite often see referees, managers and players.
“Some opposition players you don’t want to meet again but when you’re off the field it’s fine.”
Club secretary Russell Jeffries said: “We are extremely proud that Keith has been recognised by the Witney and District FA for his dedication and long service to football, and the club is grateful for all of his hard work and commitment over the years.”
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
Our top stories
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
8:30am Saturday 29th August 2015
A TOP transplant surgeon has backed the Oxford Mail organ donation campaign saying more donors are needed than ever before.
9:00am Saturday 29th August 2015
A RAPIST who disappeared before his trial to escape justice is believed to have had a second passport he could have used to flee the country.
8:00am Saturday 29th August 2015
MOVING tributes were paid to Carole Roberts yesterday at the former Lord Mayor of Oxford’s funeral.
7:00am Saturday 29th August 2015
Seven men have appeared in court accused of a catalogue of sex offences.
6:30am Saturday 29th August 2015
PLANS for an Oxford Garden City could return as the Vale looks to accommodate 4,000 new homes.
6:00am Saturday 29th August 2015
FULL plans have been revealed for 140 new homes in Littlemore near Heyford Hill Sainsbury’s.