Match will honour Saffron Walden Town FC president's 50 years
The president of Saffron Walden Town Football Club will celebrate 50-plus years of service with a testimonial match at the weekend where a stand will be named in his honour.
Paul Daw, 66, who has been part of the club as a player, secretary and president for more than half a century, will be recognised for his dedication to the Bloods on Sunday (February 5).
His testimonial, which is sponsored by Cambridge United FC, will be staged between a mix of current players and a Walden legends team – made up of stars from the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s.
Gates open at 11am, with the unveiling of the Paul Daw stand at 11.45am before the match kicks off at midday.
Saffron Walden-born Paul began his love affair with the Bloods when he was a 14-year-old schoolboy in 1964, cycling from his home to Catons Lane and travelling with the first team to their away matches in the Herts County League.
In 1968, when the FA allowed a substitute if a player was injured, Paul agreed to take on the role for home and away matches as he travelled to them anyway.
This led to several first team appearances during that season and Paul was awarded the club sportsmanship award at the end of season dinner.
After club secretary Peter Woodward resigned, Paul was invited to take on the role and would go on to hold the position for ten years before becoming club secretary at Cambridge United.
Paul, a surveyor, points to the three league titles the club has won as on-the-pitch highlights of his time at the club.
He said: “The Essex Senior League titles of 1972/73 and 1999/00 were great moments when we had very good sides. The Eastern Counties win in 1983/84 was also an outstanding achievement.
“To win the Essex Senior Trophy three times in a row under John Ryan – who was a real winnner – was also something special.”
Asked about interesting experiences during his years of service, he recalls a trip down to Newquay in Cornwall for an FA Vase match.
He said: “The players travelled overnight, but the supporters left by coach from Catons Lane at 3am on the Saturday morning.
“When we had reached Bodmin Moor we saw the players’ coach empty in the lay-by.
“We wondered why this was, but later learnt that the coach had broken down and they completed their journey with the help of a local coach company.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the day, having lunch at a carvery near Newquay’s seafront. We drew the match 2-2 after extra time and won the replay at home 1–0 before a sizeable crowd.
“Unfortunately, we were not successful in the next round as we lost 2-1 at home to Buckingham Town.”
Paul says his involvement in rebuilding the facilities in 2001 after the pitch was levelled ranks as one of his proudest achievements during his spell with the Bloods.
He said: “I played a major part in the construction of the two stands – the top stand and the one behind Catons Lane end goal – which had been demolished to allow the pitch levelling works.
“I did a lot of the work myself, digging out the soil by hand, building the steps from bricks that were available and I purchased the sand and cement myself.
“But I’m very proud of the facilities we have now. The club has always put facilities ahead of paying players and the club house is very smart.
“I still love the atmosphere at the ground and getting down to see matches.”
Paul, who has been married for more than 30 years to Marguerite, will also enjoy a directors’ box experience as a guest of Cambridge United in their match against Plymouth Argyle.
Cambridge United chief executive Jez George said: ““We are honoured to play a small role in Saffron Walden’s event to help pay tribute to Paul and raise as much money as possible.
“We urge as many supporters of Cambridge United, Saffron Walden Town and local football to support Paul by attending.”
A raffle, auction, and beat the goalkeeper competition will also take place on the day and spectators are asked to make a donation to watch the match.
Former Manchester United player Luke Chadwick will be playing and a number of Cambridge United first team players are expected to be in attendance.
A roast carvery is available after the match, but must be booked in advance: £15 adults, £12 children. Call 01799 520980.