Thatcham Tornadoes celebrate 50 years of football and fun
Football, food, and fun filled the field at The Moors this weekend as the Thatcham Tornadoes celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Crowds came out for the matches, stalls, bouncy castles and extensive display of the club's history through photos, newspaper cut outs and trophies that go back decades.
Former coach and chairman, David Campion organised the event and said: “In all my years, I haven’t been a part of something that is so together like this football club.
“Most people have just bonded.”
The admiration for the club was clear as mini reunions took place across the field.
Long-standing member, Steve Corcoran said: “It is very rewarding to be able to offer kids a chance to really be part of a team.
“Through sport, they hopefully develop life skills.”
Vice chairman David Leno also stressed the importance of using football to allow children to build confidence and flourish.
He said: “We have got youngsters who come to us who struggle with communication skills, we are seeing that improve.
“There’s involvement within schools, we can take children with autism into mainstream football and we can see that we have made an impact.”
Manager of the under 6's John Harrison highlighted that this is sometimes the first experience many children have with football. He said: “It is about fun, they want to come and play football with their friends."
Like many of the volunteers, community tournament organiser John Schofield got involved with the Tornadoes after bringing his son to a Saturday morning training session one day. He said: “The chap running the session had 26 children and asked for a hand.
“I got into it from there.”
He added: “If we are going to survive, we need all these new six and seven year olds so that the process can start again.
“Dads and mums who see their kids play and join in and help, and that’s how it continues to grow.
“Hopefully in 50 years time he will be back here celebrating the 100th anniversary.”
Former coach, Tony Lawson said the love for the club is shown through the number of attendees, some of whom have travelled from beyond Thatcham and Newbury.
He added: “It is brilliant the way it has developed; it is growing, it provides a brilliant facility for young kids of all abilities.”
Manager of the under 10’s team Gary Tingle attended with his children and said that he enjoys coaching the young budding footballers.
He said: “It’s hard work but they’re so lively, there’s a lot of different personalities.”
His son Robbie Tingle, aged nine, plays for the under 10 Tigers and echoed his dad's words.
“I want to be a footballer, I think I have a chance,” he said.
Thatcham mayor John Boyd also attended the event and noted how nice it was to see so many girls playing football.
The under 14 girls' manager Katie Pike said she used to play for the Newbury ladies football team and said that it was “brilliant” to have local facilities for girls to play sports.
She said: “My daughter wanted to play football under 8s, I offered to help and then became a coach.
“Today I have seen so many different aged girls in their kit, it is brilliant.
“I love it; I am all about girls and sports.”
She added: “There was none of this when I was a kid, there’s so many teams for girls now without having to travel miles.”
The club not only provides children with social circles, it has offered parents a place to meet new people.
Former coach and father Nick Gatensbory said that since his two daughters joined at the ages of four and five, the club has provided them with many “lovely days out”.
He said: “For us as a family it is a massive part of our life for 10 years.
“It is really nice to have their school friends but they have also got their circle of friends here, and sometimes they overlap.
“It helped them on that transition from primary school to secondary school.”
Committee member, Karen Harrison, spent the day managing merchandise and raffle tickets and expressed a lot of love for the club, saying that the members all get out what they put in.
She said: “It is particularly special for a grassroots club to still be around and growing at the rate that we are growing.”
Sponsor from A-Plan, Carlie Norwell said: “Most weekends there is football stuff going on, at this ground, it is so busy there’s a want for it.
“We will continue to support them.”