Words: John Edwards
Picture: Lisa Wilton
Altrincham's Volunteer of the Month scheme, sponsored by Blanchflower, is up and running again after a summer break, and it's a family affair to launch proceedings for the new season, with Peter and Steve Foster our first joint-winners.
Two worthier or more familiar recipients of the award it would be hard to imagine, with Steve seeing to the players' sartorial needs as kit man and dad Peter giving the club sterling service over a number of years and rightly receiving appreciative applause from Alty fans round the ground when it was announced over the public address system that he was retiring from his role as a trustee of AFC Community Sports Ltd.
Different roles, normally, for father and son, but not when they joined forces to undertake a special mission to ensure the smooth running of Alty's groundbreaking trip to Holland earlier this summer.
While players, staff and supporters all relished the prospect of flying to Eindhoven for the pre-season friendly with NEC Nijmegen, transportation for the kit and physio's equipment was never going to be quite so straightforward.
It soon became clear that air travel for the skips and all the other bulky items needed for an away engagement would be prohibitively expensive and impractical, so director Mark Luby instigated Plan B by organising a van for Steve plus a travelling companion of his choice to transport them by road.
Who better than dad to share what was always going to be a challenging and hugely important task?
Peter being the ever-willing Alty volunteer that he always was readily agreed, and the pair set off, with their cargo safely on board, on Thursday July 21st, driving to Hull, where they caught the overnight ferry to Rotterdam.
The following morning, they drove from Rotterdam to Nijmegen, arriving the day before the game and giving themselves the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the locality during the afternoon and ensure they would know the route to the ground on matchday.
Sure enough, when Alty personnel began arriving at the ground two or three hours before kick-off, every piece of kit and equipment was neatly laid out in readiness for a prestige friendly that it is hoped will lead to a long and mutually-beneficial relationship with our Eredivisie hosts.
By the final whistle, friendships had been formed on and off the pitch, but for Fozzie senior and junior, the job was only half done.
After packing up and loading everything back on to the van, they set off back to Rotterdam on the Sunday for the overnight ferry to Hull that was followed by the last leg of an arduous journey, the long drive back to Alty on the Monday.
Unsung heroes, indeed, as Alty director Sam Mackenzie underlined by saying: "They were both outstanding in facilitating the event in a way many people would not have been aware of. It was such an important occasion for the club, and Peter and Steve went out of their way to make sure it all went according to plan.
"They really did go over and above, and there could only be one choice as joint-winners of this month's award."
Our thanks to Blanchflower for sponsoring the scheme and providing a voucher to be spent at their highly-rated town centre bakery and kitchen, where the quality of food, drinks and service regularly receives rave reviews.