It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of a club hero – Geoff Ward.
As a young lad at school Geoff’s life was dominated by football, either playing or watching his beloved Crystal Palace. As young men we would walk from Elmers End to Selhurst Park in the evenings and back again eating fish and chips and dissecting the game.
When old enough to go out on his own all school holidays, weekends and the light evenings were spent playing football hours on end at Stanhope Grove Recreation Ground and before we were old enough to play adult football we would watch Beckenham Football Club on a Saturday along with hundreds of other supporters.
The dream was to play for your local team but in the end the local Park Keeper, Pat Quinn, took us boys under his wing and helped us form a Club, Stanhope Rovers F C. This did a number of things not least keeping us off the streets but also bred lifelong friendships.
Geoff was part of the Club from the start and was involved with administration at an early age. He was a nippy right winger with a bullet like shot or cross. He stopped playing at an early age but was part of the Club from the touchline and it was mainly his drive that enabled the Club to go from a poor park pitch to the apparent luxury of Stanhope Grove when Beckenham Football Club was dissolved and merged with Bromley Football Club.
Geoff saw the opportunity to play on a ground that had potential and he saw the need of a Manager and Coach both of which were recruited and Stanhope Rovers F C started up the ladder to being a Senior Football Club at Stanhope Grove. However that wasn’t enough. His next brainwave was to have Stanhope Rovers F C renamed as Beckenham Football Club. However Bromley F C were not keen on that so the Club became Beckenham Town Football Club and joined the ranks of senior Football.
Once again this wasn’t good enough for Geoff and when the current ground in Eden Park avenue became available he insisted the Club move there with a long term lease and ground development potential. He of course dragged the rest of us along for the ride.
The new ground was hard work not only in preparation for a group of volunteers but financially.
Geoff took a break to devote time to his business but eventually returned to find a completely new Committee and an organisation in need of organising.
It would be fair to say the facilities at Eden Park Avenue owe everything to Geoff’s determination an drive.
He raised finances for the excellent playing surface, fencing and recently improvements to the floodlights. However the toughest task was getting the Club financially sound and he spent, and was still spending, hours on this difficult task. The difficult administration which covered legal problems, Council involvement and football related organisations were all taken on board and he successfully dealt with them all.
Whilst Beckenham Town Football Club undoubtedly drove him mad it was in his blood and he will be sorely missed by all those that have benefited from his endeavours and massive workload.
Outside of Football his family were so important to him and helped him bear his terrible illness with humour and courage. Whenever you saw or spoke to Geoff he made you laugh and he was still living with a smile to the end.
By Howard Smith.