Date:Wednesday October 1 2008
Godfrey`s Retirement Is No Hospital Pass
Matt Calmus gives a sentimental reaction to the news that one of the Football Club`s most established figures is soon to swap his commentary box position for a seat in the stands at the Weston Homes Community Stadium…
You only need to spend half an hour talking to Godfrey Thomas about his beloved Colchester United to realise that he is a walking history book first, matchday mouthpiece second.
Hospital Radio`s resident football commentator of 50 years is about to pass the microphone over for good, but not before his recognisable tones invade the airwaves in two more games. Godfrey`s final formal appearances are both at home, for tonight`s visit of Leicester and then Leeds United next year.
His involvement as an ambassador for the now booming patient-centred service, set up and first installed permanently at United by his father, Arthur, is traceable through some of the club`s proudest moments.
A year after Ted Fenton`s 1947/8 side became the first non-leaguers to gain giant-killer status in the F.A. Cup, Godfrey started attending games. Until then, he heard match action at home in nearby Drury Road, listening outside while excitedly awaiting his dad`s return from the terraces.
Godfrey`s first formal term behind the mike in 1956/7 as a teenager also coincided with an epic season of local significance, as Colchester jostled for the old Third Division title with neighbours Ipswich.
"The derby match against Town, who were the eventual champions and where player-manager Benny Fenton dramatically missed a penalty, was one of my very first as a volunteer," Godfrey recalls.
He was later part of the four-man team behind a limited edition LP, produced before the U`s epic win over Don Revie`s Leeds United during the 1971 FA Cup game.
Godfrey also covered Colchester`s first trip to Wembley for Hospital Radio, in 1992.
The 1971 Cup recording became such a covered item, after only a limited run of 1,000 copies, that it reappeared two years ago on CD when Leeds returned to Layer Road for the first time since that famous clash.
"I`m retiring now because I think all good things need to have a finite period, particularly if you do voluntary work. Next year`s fixture against Leeds in particular, given my connections with game 37 years ago, seemed a good one to make my last," Godfrey explains.
The wind of change, what with the recent move to the Western Homes Community Stadium, just keeps blowing in Essex, but thankfully not without a healthy acknowledgement of times past.
As our man relates: "There`s a very long connection because my father was secretary of the Supporters` Club in the late 1940s, when it was the largest in Britain. There were 16,000 paid-up members of the club at the height of its success."
Godfrey has had United in his blood, and voice, then, for half a century; since those early days when footballing temptation wafted down the terraces, up the street and into his boyhood home.
The long-time commentator is at least one person you could forgive for being speechless at some point this during this evening`s game.
To read more of Godfrey`s thoughts on the U`s and football in general, check out the full series of interviews at www.Colchester.vitalfootball.co.uk.
There are also copies of the limited edition CD that commemorates 1971`s FA Cup victory still available in the Club Shop.
Date:Wednesday October 1 2008
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