EMIL ANDERSON'S COLUMN: A look at non-league life

EVERY now and again if I am asked to continue to write this column I am going to focus on a local person who embodies all that I feel is good about the non-league game.

My first legend of choice is Alan Farnworth. Alan was secretary for Bolton St Thomas’s in the NWCFL in the late 1980s but unfortunately they had to disband.

My club Atherton Colls seized the day and enticed Farney – as he is universally known – to Alder House with the rumoured promise of a free pie every week.

This was money well spent as he galvanised the club’s football organisation with his meticulous handling of the paperwork.

Anyway, the North West Counties League must have spotted the potential in him and he transferred to their management committee permanently at the end of the 1992/93 campaign.

It was Colls’ loss and Farney soon become a doyen of the Counties’ administration.

He became chairman of the ground grading committee and his name still strikes fear in member clubs up and down the North West with his no-nonsense approach.

If a job needed doing, he told you in no uncertain terms, and if you didn’t like it, tough.

Colls had been his club but he pulled no punches. He enforced the rules and he could never be accused of favouritism.

We were probably the bane of his life with our occasional laissez-faire attitude, but he whipped us and other clubs into shape.

We knew the consequences if we didn’t adhere to the criteria.

His ground grading blueprint has ensured that our league’s ground standards are the envy of many and the fact we have promoted so many teams to the level above bears this out.

He was also vice chairman of the league for many years, and his double act with chairman Dave Tomlinson was a key dynamic in the success of the competition.

They didn’t always agree but the fact they continue to speak on the phone on a daily basis, even when Dave migrates at regular intervals to the Iberian Peninsula shows how good a partnership they were.

Over recent years Farney hasn’t been very well and has had to curtail his day-to-day involvement with the league.

He has to limit his trips to the North West Counties league grounds of the NWCFL which were usually dovetailed with a visit to his favourite chippy or pie shop.

He is, however, only a phone call away and he still dispenses sound football advice and the odd kick up the backside if he sees fit.

I was honoured to nominate him for a Lancashire FA long service award a couple of years ago and am proud to say that even though he left the club about 20 years ago he is still a ‘Colls Mon’.

I salute you Mr Farnworth and hope to see you at our ground very soon. I will get the growlers in.

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