The Notts County Former Players’ Association was founded in 1999 and was born out of a tragedy after Arthur Mann, a prominent and popular member of Jimmy Sirrel’s team in the Seventies, died in a freak accident.
When Arthur's colleagues from that era attended the funeral en-mass they posed the question: “Why does it take a tragedy to bring us all together again?”
They decided there and then to form an ‘old boys’ group which would act as a vehicle for regular reunions and with the likes of Brian Bates, Bob Worthington, Les Bradd, Jon Nixon, David Needham and Don Masson driving it on, the Association was formed.
There are just two major functions each year – the Annual Dinner and the Golf Competition – and these provide an excellent opportunity for former players to meet up and recall the happy days they spent together at Meadow Lane.
As a centrepiece to the dinner, the Association always pay tribute to someone who has served Notts County with distinction over the years – and not necessarily as a player.
Jack Wheeler, who filled the roles of trainer and caretaker manager during 26 years and 1,152 ‘appearances’ for the club, was the first to win the Achievement Award.
Long-serving groundsman Peter Thompson and Colin Slater, renowned as the ‘Voice of Meadow Lane’, have followed him and so have a long list of players, including Don Masson, Les Bradd, Dean Yates, Alex Gibson, Gerry Carver and Phil Turner.
The 2009 recipient was Brian Stubbs, followed in 2010 by his central defensive partner David Needham, while the 2011 recipient was former goalkeeper Darren Ward.
Although the golf competition attracts a more select gathering, it’s always a memorable day – with the accent on humour.
Not only does it involve former players over a 50-year span but six members of the current Notts County squad are also invited to get involved, on the basis that they are the future members of the association.
Past winners of the competition include Tony Hateley, Les Bradd (twice), Dean Yates, Charlie Crickmore (twice), Arthur Oldham, Tommy Johnson, Geoff Ball and Gary Lund.
So how do you qualify to become a member of the Association? The criteria is a simple one. If you have ever made a League appearance for Notts County, you qualify.
The only exceptions are local journalists Colin Slater and the late Brian Tansley, who have been associated with County for many years and have been awarded honorary membership in recognition of their efforts for the Association.
Apart from getting the chance to keep in touch with former colleagues through the activities of the Association, members can also benefit from the recently-formed Benevolent Fund.
Committee members feel that an important part of the Association’s function should be that it helps to look after the welfare of former players and that’s why a Benevolent Fund has been introduced so that assistance can be applied for in times of need.
The NCFPA Committee
The NCFPA Committee meets around four times a year and is made up of the following people:
SECRETARY: Brian Bates
TREASURER: Les Bradd
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Tommy Johnson, Phil Turner, Ian Richardson, Dave Regis, Richard Dryden, Jürgen Halligan