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Physio, manager, chairman – how to spend 70 years at one non-league club

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Ken Gaunt reports from Boldmere St Michaels, where he spoke to club president Harry Peakman who has been at the non-league side for more than 70 years…

He has enjoyed active service at his club for 72 long years – and at the age of 94 shows no sign of slowing down.

Meet the remarkable Harry Peakman, president of Midland League side Boldmere St Michaels, based in Sutton Coldfield.

He arrived as a player in 1943 – after being introduced by Aston Villa legend Harry Parkes – and never left.

“I have been a bachelor all my life, so my family has been Boldmere St Michaels,” says Harry, who helps out when the youth team as well as the senior side are playing at home.

He has played a variety of roles over the years at the club, which was founded in 1883 – trainer, physio, manager, director and chairman and takes particular pleasure in seeing former players or hearing how they are doing.

Harry, who gets a lift to home games from former-reserve team secretary Peter Hall, says: “I am happy pottering behind the scenes looking after the dressing room area. As long as my body is willing, this will continue.

“Boldmere was a truly amateur club and gained my affections at once. I hoped one day I might make an amateur international but in reality I did not even play a great deal of first team football.

“Despite my limitations the friendly atmosphere at the club endeared itself to me and I have never wanted to leave.

“Change is inevitable and I am pleased to see new blood on the Board and growing the junior participation as we strive to increase the membership and usage of the club.

“The plans to seek planning consent for an artificial pitch I see as a necessity for growth despite my preference for the retention of a normal grass facility.”

Harry would love to see the team achieve at least one more promotion and takes pleasure in the fact the club has enduring appeal for a number of people working tirelessly behind the scenes.

The Mikes, as they are known, are lying in mid-table at the moment under manager Stuart Grosvenor with phoenix club Hereford setting the pace.

Harry recalls, arguably their finest hour-and-a-half, reaching the semi-final of the Amateur Cup in 1948 when they lost 2-0 to Barnet in front of a 27,000 crowd at Highbury.

That is one of his special memories. The others are seeing the club rise from the ashes after a fire destroyed the old wooden clubhouse in the early 70’s

His friendship with long serving former chairman Trevor Brown – the ground is named after him – and watching him cajole members into lending a hand building the new club.

And more importantly enjoying the people at Boldmere, ensuring that all friends and ‘foe’ are made welcome whenever they visit.

Harry won Birmingham County FA’s contribution award, supported by McDonald’s, last year  with the governing body adding: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of football and the game would simply not thrive, across our County, without people like Harry Peakman.”

And so say all of us…

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

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