Turnstile manager retires after nearly 50 years guarding Ipswich Town’s gates
PUBLISHED: 06:05 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:16 30 May 2019
With players and managers often in and out, football clubs are not always known as the most likely places for career longevity.
But despite operating Ipswich Town’s own revolving doors, Paul Fox is one of the few who has stood the test of time - by serving nearly 50 years on the club’s turnstiles.
The life-long Blues fan jumped at the chance to work the turnstiles at Portman Road in 1971, when aged in his early 20s - with the job effectively allowing him to watch Ipswich's home games for free.
As the likes of Bobby Robson, Kevin Beattie and George Burley came and went, Mr Fox has continued greeting fans at the gates before kick off for nearly 50 years - but will retire after the Rod Stewart gig on June 7, to take care of his wife.
"When I was younger I thought it was a great way of getting to support the club and seeing all the home games for free," said Mr Fox, who will also retire from his full-time job as a civil engineer at Ipswich Borough Council.
"It's good to be involved with the team you support - I must have seen almost every home game in my time here.
"I've worked the shows that come to the club as well - the best one I've seen must have been Tina Turner. Status Quo were very good too.
"But after almost 50 years it'll be good to just be a fan again."
Since 2014, Mr Fox has overseen all the gates at Portman Road as turnstile manager - which means he has personally tested all 62 gates five times before every event at the stadium.
In his five years as turnstiles manager, he has walked through the gates more than 30,000 times.
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"It's important all the gates are working," said Mr Fox, now 69.
"We check to make sure no turnstiles get stuck and they're all counting the number of people coming in accurately. It's important for safety.
"In all the time I've been working there the biggest problems we've had is with the technology, things like card payments - all the staff and almost all the fans are fine."
Mr Fox's decades for diligent work was recognised by the team at Town after the final game of the championship in May against Leeds United.
Mr Fox was presented bottles of wine, scarf, signed shirt and a season ticket for Town's 2019/2020 season.
Ironically, after all his time spent at Portman Road, Mr Fox rarely gets to catch 90minutes of uninterrupted football.
Mr Fox added: "When you're working the turnstiles you have to wait a few minutes after kick off before you can close your gate.
"I might be able to catch a whole game now."
Head of ticketing Donna Powell said: "I have worked with Paul for almost 18 years and I don't remember him ever missing a match.
"He would arrive to work with a smile on his face and never a minute late.
"He has organised the operation that goes on behind the scenes for the turnstile operators single-handedly and will be hugely missed."