Suffolk's Wade to celebrate 60 years
DOUG Wade, one of the best goalkeepers Suffolk has produced, celebrates his 60th birthday with a big party tomorrow night.And many of the friends he has made over a lifetime in football will be sharing the bubbly with him.
By Elvin King
DOUG Wade, one of the best goalkeepers Suffolk has produced, celebrates his 60th birthday with a big party tomorrow night.
And many of the friends he has made over a lifetime in football will be sharing the bubbly with him.
Wade played for Sudbury Town for 17 years and then went into management, successfully taking the reins at Sudbury, Stowmarket Town, Hadleigh United and Felixstowe Town.
"I was lucky enough to play for and manage arguably the best clubs in Suffolk," Wade said today.
He plans to watch his grandson Josh play for Holbrook Hornets Under-9s tomorrow morning and then have a game of golf in the afternoon.
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"Josh is coming on well and the main thing is that he enjoys the game," added Wade, who runs his own insurance company in Nacton Road, Ipswich.
"I have made some wonderful friends through football and hope to see many of them tomorrow night.
"If everybody was involved in football the world would be a much better place. I have lost count of the number of friends I have made in the game."
He said that football is a totally different game than when he played. "To play in goal these days you have to be a outfield player as well," he said.
"We may have moaned when the rules were changed but they have certainly speeded up the game. When the ball was passed back to me I could pick it up, bounce it as many times as I wanted and then hoof it up the field. How would I cope now?"
Wade divides his time at Sudbury into three categories. "For the first years it was virtually a semi-professional side with many ex-pros in the team.
"If I made a mistake or two I used to get so much stick. If a pro was on £5 a game and £1 bonus for winning and 10/- for drawing the last thing he wanted was for the keeper to lose lucrative points.
"I used to chuckle that I kept Sudbury Town solvent in those days as they did not have to pay out as much bonus money as they ought to have done!"
His next era at Sudbury was when ex-Ipswich player Jimmy Leadbetter was manager at The Priory and his third segment was the most successful playing-wise.
"Jimmy managed virtually an amateur side and did very well. Then Peter Smith came in and we began winning trophies at last. One season we won the treble.
"I have to look back on my playing days with pride, but the one thing I would have liked to have done was to play in the FA Vase.
"It is a magical competition and one that was not in being during my playing days. I enjoyed matches in the FA Cup as they were a pleasant break, and there was always some more nice people to meet."
Wade considers that he managed under three of the larger than life figures in Suffolk football in Ron Ashdown at Sudbury, John Bultitude at Stowmarket and Dave Ashford at Felixstowe.
"If you cut John or Dave in half you would see the club running through their veins," continued Wade, who looks upon his Suffolk Premier Cup 3-2 win over Haverhill Rovers in 1991 as one of the highlights of his managerial career.
"I was with Stowmarket and we had just finished runners-up in the Jewson League. Hadleigh are another wonderful club and I can still vividly recall winning the Mick McNeil Cup three times in a row with them."
Wade still watches local games – and Ipswich Town when he can – and sees the local game in good heart.
"We might not have the number of chimney pots in this area but the health of football is higher than most," added Wade.
We will all drink a toast to that – and to a fine man on his 60th birthday.