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David Woolford Replaces Richard Wickson As Chairman

"There comes a time when you feel you have to move on."
Those are the parting words of Richard Wickson who has decided to step down as chairman of the Reading FC Former Players' Association. He has at been at the helm for nearly 20 years and under his guidance he has turned a 'one-man band' into a limited company which has more than 180 members and has raised more than £100,000 for local and national charities. But now Wickson - a lifelong Reading fan - has decided to pass on the reigns to someone else.

"After 20 years it feels like I've taken it as far as I can," he explains.
"When I started it in 1997 it was very much a one man band. I did everything and then over the last few years we've stepped things up. We're now a limited company, we've now got financial and legal backing. We've got a board of business people now, each and everyone one of them have their own business acumen. So it's gone from a one-man band 20 years ago to a 10 person board with a limited company status.

"I've enjoyed every minute of it, every experience I've had - the people that I've met and worked with in those 20 years have all been absolutely fantastic. But there comes a time when you feel you need to move on - and the association needs to move on."

Wickson founded the association in 1997 soon after he had been struck down by the deliberating illness encephalitis. The condition that causes inflammation of the brain almost cost him his life - and it was the support he received while he was ill that prompted him to want to give something back.

So he put together a team of former Royals stars and organised a fundraising match. "I had encephalitis in December 1996 - it's a deliberating and life threatening illness. During that time the Encephalitis support group helped me and my family get through it, so it was only a pleasure to be able to raise some money. That was our first charity game - and that really started off the association."

He added: "The former players wanted it. They wanted a group where they could communicate with each other - where they could get together sometimes having not seen each other. "And once their playing days had finished they wanted to do more. As I said we've been a charitable organisation since the beginning and the former players have enjoyed raising money for local and national charities.

"It's been a pleasure to be part of, I've loved all of it but really my highlight has just been seeing all our former players, my heroes, back at Madejski Stadium. To meet those players as a Reading fan has been great. The likes of Trevor Senior, Martin Hicks. Les Chapple and Jimmy Wheeler - a man who I remember my dad describing as the best player to ever play for Reading. There have been lots of things over the 20 years. The work we have done with the community as well. In my estimation we've made at least £100,000 for local charities - so that's been a thrill."

Wickson announced he was standing down as chairman earlier in the month and his successor at the Former Players' Association has already been appointed. David Woolford has been voted in as chairman by the board - a decision Wickson supports. He said: "Dave is a business man - wherever he takes us now will be a good thing. We've got about 180 players as members now - of all generations. I certainly hope we will continue to grow."

28 November 2016



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