Part 3 of our series looking at stands named after people examines the connection between a non-league side from London and the co-creator of one of Britain’s finest TV comedies. GARETH EWING takes up the story…
For lovers of classic comedy, Steptoe and Son is remembered and loved by many. Running through the 60s and 70s, it tells the warm yet tragic story of a father and son ‘rag and bone’ combo, who trawl the streets of London in search of business and in the case of Harold, love.
It is a national treasure and unique in many ways. Written by a partnership that has lasted almost 70 years, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson have a list of credits that included the equally successful Hancock’s Half Hour. But that is not where the partnership theme ends. Simpson has another love in his life. A relationship that commenced over 40 years ago by pure accident and has blossomed and grown ever since. Step forward, Hampton and Richmond Borough F.C.
So how did one of the finest comedy writers in history become involved with a small but perfectly formed club based in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames? Simple. Alan had been working one Saturday morning and missed the opportunity to pay a visit to Griffin Park or Craven Cottage. Picking up the local newspaper in search of his footballing fix, Alan noted that Hampton were at home in the Middlesex Senior League. Upon finally finding the ground (he asked a dozen people on the way who could not help him), he settled down for the match and a love affair was born. Leaving the ground and passing a crisp £5 note towards the clubs floodlights fund, Alan shared his address and the next 40 years of footballing fun was born. Two years later, the club tracked down their high profile benefactor in Hollywood (where else?) and he was asked to take over the role of president two years later. Alan was quoted as saying he thought it would be a case of ‘turn up once a year and hand out prizes at the AGM’. But after meeting the committee he travelled to an away game and an obsession was born.
Now, not only does Alan Simpson OBE (both him and Galton received their awards in the 2000 Honours List) hold the role of President at the club, but he also has the distinction of having a stand in his name. The Simpson Stand which is the seated area behind the goal at the Beveree Stadium (or the Bev as it is affectionately known as) is lovely reward for years of service, not forgetting that donation towards the lighting.
It is well documented that the Beatles were massive fans of Steptoe and Son, famously asking Albert (Wilfred Brambell) to appear in their first movie ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. Hampton and Richmond Football Club may not be able to list such universal stars as famous fans but in Alan Simpson, all you need is love.
GARETH EWING – @variete1981