End of an era for Chippenham Town as Bluebirds couple blow final whistle (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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End of an era for Chippenham Town as Bluebirds couple blow final whistle
It is the end of an era for Chippenham Town Football Club as veteran directors Sandie and Doug Webb call it a day.
The Webbs announced on Tuesday they will end their active duties with Town after 37 years involvement with the club.
The couple, who own Revolutions restaurant and Buckles and Shoestrings takeaways in the town, said they felt the time was right to leave.
The Hardenhuish Park club is where they first got together, after Mrs Webb moved to Chippenham in 1981 when her brother, Keith Nash, was goalkeeper for the Bluebirds.
Mrs Webb, 61, said: “I took my boys to see Keith in goal and Doug was there as chairman and that was that really. It was thanks to football we’ve now been 28 years married.”
They have both been club chairman at the Bluebirds, Doug for 19 years until 1997 and Sandie for three from 2005.
And both have seen the club rise through the local leagues to reach the Southern League, as well as the Bluebirds’ finest-ever moment when they reached the FA Vase final at the old Wembley stadium in 2000.
Around 10,000 people made the trip from Chippenham to the home of English football to see their team take on Deal Town and become the first from Wiltshire, since Swindon Town in 1969, to compete in a Wembley cup final.
“It was a wonderful moment,” said Mr Webb, 74. “They did us and the town proud.”
Mrs Webb got to travel on the open-top bus with the team and remembers Chippenham’s streets lined with thousands of people to welcome them home after their 1-0 defeat.
“I had the excitement of arranging with the town council the reception in the town hall,” she said.
“As they came under the arches, all the players were gobsmacked at the number of people there to welcome them. It was quite magnificent.
“There have been amazing days all round. Even a game at Gateshead when there were ten people there, it was great to feel part of that little family.”
Also in 2000, Mrs Webb, then deputy mayor of Chippenham, welcomed Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy to the club when he called in to congratulate them on reaching Wembley.
Mrs Webb is now writing a book about the history of the club since it formed in 1873.
The football-mad couple will still go to some games but have just bought a season ticket for Swansea City.
Club director Wil Hulbert said: “I cannot speak highly enough of Doug and Sandie’s long and devoted service. Without them the club wouldn’t exist in the state it does, if at all.
"Doug basically saved the club in the 1960s and 1970s with all those jumble sales. It’s very sad to see them go.”
And former player and manager Adie Mings said: “I’ve known Doug since I was a kid, I used to play football with his son Martin and he’s been a fantastic support for me.
“He’ll be a great loss to the football club. He’s been the life and soul and seen it through some really difficult times through his professionalism, experience and commitment.”
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