Departing HRR Chairman Dave Reader has provided his thoughts on his time at the club:
“Hello to all Rangers players, volunteers, committee, sponsors, managers and all associates past and present. I’m writing this as a departing Chairman, fan, volunteer, manager and friend of Hall Road Rangers and where do I start?
Back when I had previously run another local NCEL side and had decided to step down, I assessed my spare time and what I had to offer in terms of helping another club in a much smaller role. I was approached by a now friend and previous Chairman Darren Sunley to ask what my plans were. How was I to know where that phone call was to lead?
I went to have a chat with Vice-Chairman Lee Myers and Chairman Darren. I listened to what the club had achieved from moving from their previous home ground Dene Park, securing funding for floodlights, had a fantastic youth development set-up, mini soccer and it was all done for the right reasons in providing football for all. I was sold and I thought if I could offer a little of my time to an established and well run club then I could keep my volunteered enjoyment of local and grassroots football going.
At the first committee meeting I attended, I was surrounded by some fantastic people including Darren, Lee, Bob Smailes, Alan Chaplin, Chris Wright and Andy Watts. I was astounded with the help they had to run the football club in a structured manner as I hadn’t previously had this at my former club. The night went on and it was discussed about me joining and if anyone opposed to me being part of the history and well established Rangers. All voted for me to to join and I was IN.
However, I was immediately stuck in the middle of a room with many fellow committee members I’d just met and we lost one in Andy Watts. I remember thinking was this something I had done, said or had missed? Andy was the previous assistant manager to Bill Gill of the first-team where the season had just finished and, as I learnt, genuine knowledgable grassroots football people. There we were, sitting in a room, with now one less member and I think what just happened and why?
Over the next few weeks, I got to know some of the managers and spent a bit of my time helping and speaking with Darren, Lee and Alan about what we should do with what direction they should go in. I happened to mention that I had worked closely with two great managers that had helped me previously and that we should possibly have a chat. Leon Sewell and Chris Burke have become two of my best friends, throughout my time with HRR, and we spoke to them about what plans we had and what direction we’d like the club to go in after relegation from the NCEL Premier Division in the 2018/19 season.
They gave every player a chance to stay within the club from the previous season. Unfortunately, the lads believed it’d be better to move on and try elsewhere apart from club captain Conner Harman and James Whittingham. The club was readying itself to be in NCEL Division One with two players but, thankfully, the contact of both Leon and Chris showed that they had the time, effort and commitment the club needed to start again in terms of first-team and opened the club to all players to try out. This proved extremely successful and credit to them both as they worked tirelessly to create a buzz and people wanted to know what the club was doing.
A great fan following were updated regularly upon meeting another hardworking two people in Neil Winsor and Oliver Harsley. These two looked after everything from social media updates, match day programme information, match day facts, mini soccer updates and interviews with committee and managers. They were brilliant and, again, I made two good friends from my time with them both.
The club I joined certainly had its characters that I personally got to know and I made it my job to meet them all. I still know them both outside of Hall Road and some still firmly with the club. Mr Hall Road, as some know him, Lee Myers (Vice-Chairman) was the next big shock when he announced his resignation due to work capacity and needed a break from football. This man did everything from cutting grass, painting clubhouse, arranging programmes, tidying, fixing, confirming and more things than I can ever imagine doing. We all know Lee and how much he did for the club and think all will be forever grateful for your commitment and love of the Rangers (legend).
This was when Darren rang me and asked if we could meet up for a beer and a chat! I was just a small volunteer and, up to now, had just helped and watched others. I felt I could offer a little bit more (probably not to the wife’s approval). We spoke about gaps, what I’d been involved with, who I’d met and what I thought of the whole structure. A few beers in, Darren asked would you consider stepping up to be Vice-Chairman? Thinking back now, I must’ve been mad but accepted.
We met regularly and spoke most days either via Messenger or calls running ideas past managers and committee and I was hooked into the whole history of Hall Road Rangers. I must say I absolutely love the club and the work that’s gone on behind the scenes since 1959 is huge and more than I could’ve ever imagined.
We’ve had teams leave, teams form, managers leave and new managers arrive but the badge and club will stay the same forever regardless of pitches, people or location. Everyone knows who Hall Road Rangers are and where and when Ted Richardson formed this fantastic club.
Darren and I went through some tough times together including the dreaded first season of when covid struck and halted the world for us all. Football and sport were just stopped part way through the season. This gave us a chance to look at the club and pitches. Volunteers, when allowed, tided, painted, soil and seeded pitches and we truly all came together for one badge. I thank everyone that helped with it all and your help truly brought us all together and the club was our main focus.
Unfortunately, Covid halted football just ten games into the 2020/21 season as we all again looked to get our lives back on track and into the outside world. I don’t think we’ll ever see what happened to the world again in our lifetime and wish history never repeats itself in terms of family members not able to see each other and passing away from what was an awful time.
However, in the 2021/22 season, we were all back. Although another year older, we were fully allowed to see, meet and enjoy grassroots and re-open soccer schools, bars and football stadiums. The first team, Leon and Chris, gets a crack at the full season and finish a strong 10th from 21 in the NCEL Division One. Finally, we had all this hard work on and off the pitch and something to show for it. The kids’ teams were still growing and, thanks to the remaining coaches, we re-opened soccer school and the bar for kids to use for chips after the games to give them all the same experience and to give us all a boost to bond and become close again. We were back!
Being a chairman has its negatives. As much as people think it’s all flowers and happiness, it’s not and I’ve been through it all. Dealing with lots of behind the scenes stuff most will never experience. Darren missed family time, enjoying weekends and used personal money to ensure the club was still around. Credit to him as he did this brilliantly and thank you Darren Sunley. This was to be the final season for Darren and he will remember me saying if you ever leave I’ll leave also as I didn’t want the responsibility he had managed for the seven years+ he had been with the club.
This is where I considered what I call my guilty feeling. Instead of following Darren, as I has announced to him, I took the reins of Chairman. I didn’t want to see the kids not have a club or ground to play from. This again was welcomed by the remining volunteers, staff and managers that I had become friends of. We held and hold regular managers meetings to understand frustrations, ideas, kit, equipment and what and who could help.
This is when family members matter and mine certainly have done more than I could have ever asked of. They wouldn’t let me fail at taking on such a huge role. The support of my parents, wife, children, friends, and my new Hall Road family all came on board giving up as much time as possible. We ensured we continued to improve the pitches with soil and seed. The changing rooms were painted and the full site was weeded by Kev Rev and my mum Elaine Reader. My dad Phillip Reader fixed anything we broke (and more than once), Kirsty Reader, my wife, picked the paint brushes, cooked food and watered all volunteers that attended the Rangers pre-season maintenance days. Managers Simon Stevens, Paul Innes, Matt Vass, Joe Smith, Leon Sewell and Chris Burke all did work on the pitches. More than I could have asked. The club is and will always be my family.
Upon retuning to the 22/23 season, I looked upon the first- team. Due to previous years, companies were just getting back on track after Covid and we had a shortage of sponsors. This became one of the hardest decisions I have had to make as Chairman. This was regarding the position of Hall Road and the NCEL. I spoke with managers Leon and Chris about what I believe could’ve been a disaster if we were to try and compete in the league the club had been part of for nearly 40 years. The travel, referees, and costs were just not achievable and therefore suggested we pulled out of the league for these reasons. This was not to the liking of anyone, including myself, but I had to be honest and have transparency for the decisions I had mentioned. The club had been so successful in holding their position in the league since the establishment and I was to be the guilty party of removing them. As I say, this wasn’t to everyone’s preference including mine, but, after many sleepless nights, I was supported by all as too why.
The club has become a family and I have personally been there for all past, current, and new managers. We’ve enjoyed this season together as Hall Road Rangers but, in November, I held an open meeting with managers to advise the ever-rising costs of the club were becoming unsustainable and gave all managers the facts and figures. The one thing I believe is best. Thank God for my parents giving me the always be honest policy and this was to give full transparency to incoming and outgoing figures. The fact that we weren’t bringing in enough to afford the luxury of Haworth Park became apparent and we needed to look for alternative income or ways to make it pay. We’ve all tried by holding events, Christmas, birthdays and Halloween parties to keep the money trickling in to keep this family club afloat.
However, after rising energy costs, repair bills and the loss of revenue from first-team games, I had to take the next manager’s meeting to announce not only the bills were defeating us and we’d have to start to look at an alternative home ground for the Rangers but also to announce my resignation following the 2022/23 season. I’ve remained committed to helping the managers at all age groups, the bar, grounds and to help form a new committee should the remaining managers want to continue.
To say the club would be closing would’ve hurt and not sat right with me massively. This club is more than just a football club as it’s a family friendly club. Anyone who’s been associated with the club past or present knows the badge means so much to so many.
The 22/23 season is nearly complete and we’ve finished with more new teams, new managers and children playing football under this historic badge. This shows how many people care for the club and badge even after my last season with the club. The new committee is formed, Paul Innes (Chairman), Matt Vass and Darren Bowness (Vice Chairman), Simon Stevens (Secretary and Treasurer) and it’s great news for Hall Road Rangers. They’ve worked extremely hard behind the scenes in locating a new ground for them all to play from on one site. I take no credit for it as this was all of them working together as a team, club and family.
As I sit writing and finalising the last pieces of the jigsaw to move away from the Rangers in my tenure, I want to thank all involved in helping me achieve all the above. I’ve met so many good people through football and have more friends for life leaving what I hope was an enjoyable time together.
Personally, from me, thank you to the following:
Darren Sunley, Lee Myers, Alan Chaplin, Bob Smailes, Chris Wright, Teresa Kirkwood, Emma Newlove, Neil Winsor, Kevin Revell, Linda Revell, Tony Hardy, Mike Harker, Mark Dobson, Mark Dunn, Paul Innes, Simon Stevens, Darren Bowness, Matt Vass, Sam Hawksley, Joe Smith, Matt Wort, Andy Watts, Bill Gill, Dave Ricardo, Leon Sewell, Chris Burke, Matt Gray, Alex Lisney, Mike Jefferson, Oliver Harsley, Elaine Reader, Phillip Reader, Kirsty Reader, Taylor Reader, Paul Gibbin, Hayley Gibbin, Adam Pardoe, Neill Dransfield, Emma Innes, Ricky Jennison, Martin Cox, Paul Warnecke, Dave Day and more I probably have missed but never forgotten.
Thank you for letting me be part of the Rangers history.
Your out going chairman,