TWO stalwarts of Woolverstone United have been recognised by The FA.
Craig Catchpole and David Hazelwood were both presented with The FA 50-Year Service Award on Saturday evening.
The presentations took place during a special presentation evening at Berners Hall to mark the club’s centenary season.
Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler made the presentations, which were kept a closely-guarded secret from the pair.
Club chair Craig Catchpole, who was born in Chelmondiston and now lives in Wherstead, said: “I thought there was going to be a presentation to the club to mark the centenary, so I was totally made up to receive the award.
“It makes all the hardship we have gone through, what with the club being on the verge of folding two or three times, all the more worthwhile and my wife Carol has also sacrificed a lot too.”
Craig’s football pathway started at the age of seven in 1968 at Shotley Rangers, where he played until joining Woolverstone at 14.
His Dad used to take him to Woolverstone to watch the football and when he couldn’t Craig used to bike to watch.
As a registered player from 1976-2019, Craig played up front for several years, before dropping back into midfield until a knee injury forced to him to take up position of goalkeeper, where he saw out the rest of his playing career.
It is only in the past couple of years that Craig, who is now aged 60 and made more than 500 appearances for the club, has not been signed on to play.
He worked at Tattingstone Hospital as a chef, and he used to go in two hours early, so he was still able to play Saturday afternoons.
As well as playing for Woolverstone in 2001 Craig took on the role as a manager for Brantham Youth Team where both of his boys played. He then brought that team to Woolverstone where they continued and were integrated into the club’s set-up.
Whilst playing/managing Craig and the team moved up from Division Six, which they won, through Division Five and Division Four, where they were runners, up finishing in Division Three.
Then Woolverstone were moved into Division Two, where they have been for the last three years.
His roles over these years have included captain, club captain, manager, Covid officer, while he has represented the club on the Woolverstone Village Hall Committee and was on the Woolverstone Football Committee for more than ten years.
Keith Woods, the previous chair, actually requested that Craig took over the mantle of Chair of Woolverstone Football Club before he passed away. Craig duly became the club chair in 1997, and he still holds the role to this day.
There are not many chairs who would stand on the touchline and openly show their love, devotion and commitment for a club, but when that final whistle blew on March 19th and it was confirmed the club had gained promotion to the Suffolk & Ipswich League Division One for the first time in their history, that’s exactly what happened.
During the evening Craig also received a meritorious long service award which was presented by Suffolk & Ipswich League Chair Keith Norton.
David Hazelwood, who joined the club as a player in 1960, and is known as ‘Mr Woolverstone’ due to his long association.
His roles have included secretary and treasurer, roles he first took on in 1974, and more latterly in 2007 as groundsman.
In 2016 David, who is now aged 77 and has lived most of his life in Shotley, stood down as secretary but he continues as treasurer and groundsman to this day.
The football ground is named after him because of the amount of time, energy and devotion he has given to the club.
Nowadays he spends most of pre-season preparing the ground, so it is ready for the start of the season and then he is on high alert getting goal posts, pitch lining, grass cutting.
In the past couple of years he has also been responsible for making sure all Covid regulations are followed by players and spectators.
David, who was born at Culpho, near Woodbridge, said: “It is nice to be recognised as I have done a lot of work and it has cost me a fortune over the years by not working overtime, but it is a lovely ground to work on.
“I have been involved with the club since I was 14 and appreciate the fact that we have now got a very good set up with the management team we have in place so that I can take a step back.”
David Hazelwood (above left) and Craig Catchpole (above right) are pictured with their awards on Saturday night. Photograph: Luke Fitch