Ollie Hopkins named as President
Ollie Hopkins, claims he was “very proud to be asked” to be Chelmsford City Football Club's new president.
Ollie Hopkins named as President
NEWLY installed President, Ollie Hopkins, claims he was “very proud to be asked” after Chelmsford City Football Club's legendary former player and manager took-up his position with the Clarets.
Ollie, the oldest of three generations of Hopkins to be involved on the playing staff at the club, moves into the prestigious role in place of The Late Don Walker, who sadly passed away weeks after the conclusion of the 2008/09 campaign. Now Hopkins is determined to do his predecessor justice by serving City with equal distinction. He explained: “Don Walker will take some following and it is important that we allowed him some time to settle upstairs. There are so many deserving people at the club and it's such an important position that I feel honoured.”
Having joined City in the summer of 1965 after a lengthy professional playing career as a centre-half, Ollie moved to the ambitious Brentwood Town two years later but came back to New Writtle Street in 1970 when the two clubs merged in a more coaching-based role.
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He was named Reserve Team Manager to Mick Loughton in 1977 and used his extensive knowledge of the local scene to build his side, bringing in the likes of John Devine.
He states: “As a youngster at school in Barnsley, where I was born, I was at my home town club for 10 years in the days when clubs used to really look after their young players. I went on to complete a full-time carpentry apprenticeship then, at 25, I moved to Peterborough United. We won the Fourth Division there at the first attempt then, after five further years, I arrived at City.”
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Ollie made 93 appearances during his two spells with the club, netting five times, and his years at City included time in the manager's hot seat in 1978. He was in charge for several months, steering the ship at a difficult time in the club's history. Ollie recalled: “We took a number of youngsters under our wing early on, including the likes of Peter Collins. There were a number of talented local players in the side to compliment the older ex-League players and in November of that first season we had a wage bill of just �120 a week! The club was in troubled times around then and I thought it was going to fold.”
One of his first signings was his son, Phil, the eldest of his three children who also include current Vice-Chairman, Paul. The latest generation of Hopkins' was Liam, who appeared around the turn of the Millennium. “It was a proud moment when Phil told me Liam had made it into the First Team,” he recalled. “He's had trouble with injury but he's been a very good player. I've enjoyed watching the football we've been playing in recent years as it's been very attractive. We didn't quite have the legs to finish the job last year but there's now an expectation that we have to do well so we will eventually succeed. It would be great to see Chelmsford City in the Football League.”
A keen cricket fanatic and umpire who played at a decent, semi-professional level in Yorkshire, Ollie admits the sound of leather on willow is all that occasionally keeps him from matchdays at Melbourne during August and September each year. “It used to be that you could play cricket in the summer and football in the winter, but there is too much of an overlap these days,” he analyses.
Even to the present day, Ollie's involvement knows few bounds, as he explains: “Paul knew I still had my original Chelmsford City blazer which I'd kept from 1965 to the present day. He asked to borrow it recently, but I thought no more of it. Now it turns out that our current directors' blazer badge is modelled on that original! The directors currently at the football club are doing an excellent job in involving people and getting back in touch with the public again.”
Ollie's son, Paul, was equally enthused to see his father handed such an honoured position, saying: “I was delighted and proud when I found out Dad was going to be named as President. I know he considered it an honour and he asked me what the role entailed. I told him he needed to act as a figurehead and keep an eye on the club and make sure we all behave ourselves!”