When asked to name their legends of AFC Telford United and its predecessors, older fans would tell you about Jack Bentley, whilst for those of my vintage it would be Dave Mather or Kevin Charlton, and for younger fans it may be Ryan Young.
One person who wholeheartedly deserves that title is Derrick Moore.
What position did he play? Well he has never kicked a ball for the club but for the past 50 years he has fulfilled virtually every role there is to fulfil in his support and love for the club.
Brought up in Wellington, Derrick’s mother followed her own father in being a lifelong supporter, and with his grandfather’s uncle, Harry Robinson, representing Wellington Town in 1883 the club’s imprint is in Derrick’s DNA. He was brought to matches in his pram, and recalls attending matches in January 1947 at the age of four.
On 10th August 1966, whilst England was still celebrating winning the World Cup 10 days earlier and the United States was launching a lunar orbiter to scope sites for a moon landing, Derrick was attending the AGM of the Wellington branch of the old supporters’ club in the back room of the Buck’s Head public house. With the former secretary, Gwen Trehearne, retiring, Derrick, in his own words “naively volunteered my services.”
In no time he was involved in running the tea and coffee caravan, managing to coerce his parents, brother David, sister-in-law Lorraine and Auntie Dora, to help also. The caravan was replaced by “Moore’s Refreshment Emporium”, a new tea hut redesigned and rebuilt by Bob Groom and unofficially named as such by Derrick. In culinary terms his ‘signature dish’ became the hot dog, and along with Glyn Parton Derrick served literally thousands of these over the years, joking that if laid down end-to-end they would have extended from the ground to the Atcham Bridge! My own initial memory of Derrick is in this very role, my sister and I frequently ordering two, at 27 pence each, at half-time.
Along with the secretarial work for the supporters’ club and his ‘Emporium’, Derrick turned his hand to tasks such as painting the old stand and, together with friends of long standing, Don Meeson and Mike Ferriday, helping with the match day programme. When the old social club opened in October 1969, guess who was soon helping as a volunteer behind the bar? Derrick Moore.
The supporters’ club in its former guise ended, but Derrick continued to help Mike Ferriday in his capacity as secretary of the club itself, then when AFC Telford United was formed by the Trust, he was soon installed as secretary. The Learning Centre was opened, and with old habits dying hard it was Derrick who was the first to volunteer his services behind the counter.
Those are Derrick’s off-field memories, but as for those on the field? I asked which had been his most memorable, and unsurprisingly perhaps the it’s the elation of the club’s FA Cup exploits in the Stan Storton era that he recalled, the highlight being the success over Darlington in the 4th round which secured an unforgettable tie away at Everton. The FA Trophy too holds great memories, and of the club’s three successes, a record as yet unsurpassed, it’s the first, a victory against Hillingdon Borough, in 1971, that resonates.
However, as we know, football reflects life and isn’t all good times, and the club’s first relegation from the National Conference is one that Derrick would prefer not to recall. There have been lighter moments, and it’s a memory of two St John Ambulance stretcher-bearers carrying off a visiting player who had suffered an injury to a leg, only to contrive to let him fall from the stretcher and sustain a broken arm on contact with the ground, that he recalled with amusement, less so the player involved!
So what of the future? Derrick would like to maintain his current level of activities, though mindful of his age. Currently he is helping the Trust Board and the Club Board to investigate possible models of ownership, giving a hand to Bob Forster to register our proposed charity, and carrying on my work in scanning programmes for the website and posterity (he’s up to 1995-96).
More immediately he commemorated the occasion of his 50th anniversary of volunteering with a quiet drink in the club’s Learning Centre on 10th August 2016. To acknowledge the number of years, he had brewed a beer of fifty points of original gravity, giving a beer of 5% ABV, and was judiciously giving free samples of this on the night. As is typical of the man and his quiet dedication to the club he loves he wished the evening to be low-key, but extended a welcome to all supporters, but especially his fellow volunteers, to join his celebration and to help the swell the takings behind the bar!
It was a great opportunity for people to show their appreciation of a true one-club man; I mentioned moon landings earlier, and there’s a famous story of a cleaner at NASA who, when asked what he did, replied “I help to put a man on the moon”. Derrick Moore might not have scored the goals, or made the tackles and saves that have won matches for the club, but he and his fellow volunteers are right up there in importance, and for that he deserves all of our appreciation.
Thank you, Derrick.