It was certainly unexpected and out of the blue … or should that be out of the RED!
Players and officials from Ecclesfield Red Rose decided it was only right that they should spring a surprise on their own “Sir Alf” and celebrate Alf Goodison’s 60 years with the club.
Alf, who celebrated his 86th birthday last August, began his stint with the club initially, to use Alf’s words, “to blow the footballs up, ” and this was in the days of lace-up footballs with no electric machines.
His playing career had included spells with two other local sides, High Green Villa and Ecclesfield United, but it was off the field that Alf was destined to make his mark.
Red Rose had lost a close game 3 -2 at Brinsworth Whitehill. After the game, the team and officials had made their way to the Old Harrow pub in Grenoside to what had been billed as a “get to know you night” for the club with current players, old players and officials coming along to make sure the club ethos of everyone pulling together continues.
Little was Alf, along with his wife Joan, to know that the evening was actually for something and someone special.
With a number of the club’s directors, vice presidents and committee members, past and present, sat chatting over old times the players came in to the room, with current team captain, Alex Radford presenting a speechless Alf with a signed framed club shirt, presents, a cake with the Ecclesfield Red Rose badge proudly on the top and a bouquet of flowers for Joan, who has been at Alf’s side all those years, helping with the hospitality and catering, performing secretarial and treasurer duties for the club and STILL was washing all the kit and of course, Joan is the well-known maker of the best ever scones.
Alf said: “It’s not very often I am lost for words, but I was. It was quite emotional evening for me. I would like to thank everyone connected with the club, with, of course a very special thank you to Joan.”
Joan, who is 84 and has been married to Alf for 63 years said: “Thanks to everyone, it was a great surpriseEveryone was so generous and they wouldn’t even let us buy a drink.
Alf’s dad, Harold, was one of the founder members of the club in 1915, with Alf starting his relationship with Red Rose in 1957 not just blowing up the footballs … but being the team’s first aider, before taking the club secretary’s role in 1959, from which he stepped down in 2012 passing the reins on to the current secretary and team manager Malcolm Boswell.
Malcolm said: “What a man Alf has been for our club over so many years. I am very grateful for Alf’s continued support and guidance. I call it our club because that’s what Ecclesfield Red Rose is to many people connected with the club past and present.
“We are truly a family club, with players from the past often coming along to the games, always remembering their time with Red Rose.
“And Alf has played a major part in making sure that the club maintains that ethos.”
Alf’s efforts and commitment to local football both with Ecclesfield Red Rose, the County Senior League and grass roots football, was also recognised by Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA in 2009 when he received the Derek Dooley Outstanding Contribution to Grass Roots Football award.