Ian Richardson receiving the Achievement Award and a presentation to the Jeff Astle Foundation were two of the special features helping to make the 17th annual dinner of the Notts County Former Players’ Association one of the best ever.
The committee’s selection of “Richo” for the award recognised his near-20 years with the club – as a player with nearly 300 appearances, as manager who ensured that relegation was avoided and, latterly, as a senior member of Football in the Community’s management team.
Former Notts team-mate Gary Martindale and Community director Steve Hill paid warm tributes to him before last year’s winner of the same award, Iain McCulloch, made the presentation to “Richo”.
Responding, Ian told the guests how disappointed he was to lose the manager’s job after only six months adding that he and his wife, Debbie, had considered whether it was time to leave Nottingham.
“The decision to stay was the best we’ve ever made and I hope to be associated with the club, which is very dear to my heart, for a long time yet,” he said.
It was back in 1996 Ian joined Notts from Birmingham City where his manager was Barry Fry who then contributed his own lavish tribute in his unique and hugely entertaining way, resulting in a deserved standing ovation.
By a happy chance Barry is also a patron of the Jeff Astle Foundation, set up after the coroner who enquired into the death of the former Notts and West Bromwich Albion player concluded it was due to neurological damage as a result of heading the ball.
Jeff’s family, represented at the dinner by Lorraine, his widow, and Dawn, one of his daughters, received a cheque from the Association’s benevolent fund.
Dawn eloquently explained that the Foundation has three aims one of which is to work to ensure that future generations of footballers are spared the same problem.
As if all this wasn’t enough the Harold Mace Memorial Trophy went to Bob Worthington who, in two Notts’ promotion seasons in the Seventies, missed only three matches – a tribute to his consistency and reliability.
Due to illness Bob was unfortunately unable to be present and the trophy was received on his behalf by Don Masson from Harry, grandson of Harold Mace.