Former Supporters Club Chairman Passes

The Football Club are saddened to hear of the passing of former Supporters’ Club Chairman, Alan Barton.

Our Club Historian, Mike Pavasovic, has written the following in memory of Alan;-

“ALAN BARTON, who died recently, played a major part in keeping Hyde United in existence in the rocky days of the 1970s.

The cost of joining the newly-formed Northern Premier League — and the ground improvements that made it possible, such as the installation of floodlights — almost destroyed the club. Severe financial difficulties forced a return to the Cheshire League in 1970 and Alan’s work through the supporters’ club was instrumental in raising the vital funds that kept it going.

Things really were dire. When Jack Dobson was appointed manager in 1974 he asked how much his weekly wage bill comprised and was told “nothing”.

I first encountered Alan when I joined the supporters’ club committee (for committee read entire membership) in February, 1980. He was chairman and ruled the roost with his close friends Norv Coates, Melvin Burgess and Peggy and Harry Dilkes.

At the time, the supporters’ club played a bigger part in the life of Hyde United than the directors. It owned the ground, which it made available for a peppercorn rent; ran the tea bar; looked after ground maintenance and improvements; produced the match programme; organised fund-raising; took care of boardroom hospitality; and ran transport to away matches, allowing the team to travel for free.

Alan was at the heart of all this and without his leadership the supporters’ club may have collapsed. He kept everyone together, assigned the jobs and made sure there was no wasting of money. We used to joke about how tight he was, even washing paper cups so they could be reused, or buying hedgehog-flavour crisps. But he knew Hyde United was treading a fine line and the supporters’ club often had to make donations to prevent the Tigers from going under.

It’s true to say that Alan was Hyde United through and through. He lived on Miles Street with his father and two brothers and watched the club from a very young age.

When I became a regular supporter, in the mid-Seventies, Ewen Fields could be a depressing place. We had a mud-heap of a pitch and a perimeter fence made of old railway sleepers. Few people watched. Fortunately, performances started to improve in 1980, largely after we signed George Oghani, and as the crowds grew, Alan made sure the supporters’ club’s extra revenue was sensibly invested.

It was thanks to him that we gradually got a concrete perimeter fence and that the lake at the back of the Walker Lane stand was drained. He was at Ewen Fields whenever he could be, to tidy up and do general work, and spent matches serving in the tea bar where Norv brewed up and Peggy made oxtail soup.

Of course we also got things like Barton’s Brick Appeal, where we seemed to get far more old bricks than we could ever use. It was the same with oil drums for use as litter bins. But if there was a way of trimming costs, Alan would find it and Hyde United would benefit. Anyone remember the curious Tigerama programme we had with the staple at the top rather than the side? And the different colours of paper? If it was free, he’d use it.

Sadly, Alan was bitterly disappointed by the decision to switch the 1983 FA Cup first round tie to Burnley and I always felt his enthusiasm dimmed a little after that. He seemed to get more pleasure from work on the ground than play on the pitch.

He resigned as supporters’ club chairman in 1986, when Ewen Fields was sold to Tameside Council, but briefly returned as social club secretary. He came back as a season ticket holder for the two seasons we played in the National League (Conference). Not long after, his health started to fail and latterly he was suffering from dementia. A sad end to someone who did so much.

Hyde United couldn’t function without the hard work and dedication of volunteers who love the club and ask for no reward. Alan Barton was one of the best and he’ll be sadly missed. Condolences to Pauline and his family.”

The Club will be paying tribute to Alan at our next Home match v Witton Albion on Saturday 19th March. Our sincere condolences to Alan’s wife, Pauline, and family.