Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Winger who gave lifetime service to club

STAN COX, who died on October 19, aged 83, was a well known figure in Henley

STAN COX, who died on October 19, aged 83, was a well known figure in Henley especially in his capacity of town sergeant, but perhaps most of all for his very long association with Henley Town Football Club.

This being the case, it may come as a surprise to find that he did not wear their colours until he was 26 years old. By that time, he had had a short spell with Henley YMCA, a much longer one with Shiplake and another with Reading Aerodrome, then in the Great Western Combination.

In August 1958, the Town were just emerging from a long barren spell, and their first team was their strongest since the War, but it took the reserves several years to catch up. On first arriving at the Reading Road ground, Stan was one of the few reserves with any pretensions to footballing skills, and he was invaluable as a man who would not let the first team down yet would uncomplainingly return to a side that was constantly getting hammered.

Stan was normally to be found at outside-left, where he was difficult to knock off the ball, centred well and sometimes made direct for goal. His chance of a regular first-team berth seemed to arrive when Billy Hinton was called up for national service midway through the season. Hinton managed to get leave more often than expected, but, as injuries mounted up, he would sometimes take up another position as Stan remained on the left wing. Stan held his place in an exciting climax to the season, where a decimated Henley failed to win the Hellenic League Division 1 through losing twice to mid-table Abingdon United in two of their three closing games.

His experiences in his first season were typical of Stan’s playing career with the Town, as he continued to shuttle between the two senior sides. In 1964-65, he was a member of the team that won the Hellenic League Reserve Section Benevolent Cup.

In 1971 Henley Town, in their centenary year, experienced all sorts of difficulties, including the loss of the Reading Road ground. A caretaker committee kept the club alive, and Henley resumed league football two years later, with Stan now a member of the committee. When the reserve team resumed a year later, Stan was appointed its manager, a position he held for nearly five years.

Before then, following a few appearances for Newtown, Stan thought he had hung up his boots. But reserve teams have a habit of finding themselves one short at the last minute â?? and then the manager has to fill the void. Stan was also proud to be a voice in the dressing-room when he acted as physio to the first team when they won the Ercol Senior League and Wycombe Senior Cup besides losing in the final of the Reading Senior Cup in 1978-79. Even then and for a few years afterwards he would make emergency appearances in the first team, the last when he had already turned 50.

By this time, he was also treasurer of the club, a position he held for about 10 years, though remaining on the committee for some time after that. When he moved away to Abingdon, he was elected a life member. He continued to watch most of the club’s home matches for as long as his health allowed.

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