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Gone, but not forgotten

In among recent stories of millionaire footballers complaining about Manchester because it’s cold, and volatile fans evoking memories of the dark days in the recent north London derby, the heart-warming tale of Old Garchonians FC has emerged.

Old Garchonians are a Sunday side, set up with the aim of commemorating the life and loss of football mad 22 year old Freddie Garcha.

Set up by a group of Freddie’s closest friends and family, the club has its own home ground, Burton Hole in Mill Hill, and now boasts two full squads, both teams playing friendly matches in the Southern Amateur League for the season.

The continuation of a run of good performances, and an even better attitude, should lead to the reward of a place in the league proper next year.

No mean feat 

That in itself is no mean feat, considering that some clubs have had to wait 15 years before they are considered ready for the division.

Old Garchonians is being carried by a group of young men and recent university graduates, who are struggling to combine keeping a first job with the day to day administrative tasks needed to successfully run a football club.

From booking a referee to arranging a regular training pitch, the founders have been taken aback by quite how much time and effort is required to make the club successful.

However, with Freddie always at the forefront of everyone’s minds, there is a steely determination to make this more than just a club.

Creating a legacy

From talking to Luke Tripp, the vice-club captain, it is evident that this is about creating a legacy; a life-long, material memorial dedicated to the life and passion of their friend.

As well as constant administrative pressures there is of course a footballing side to things, and without a coach in sight the boys have managed to amicably, and successfully, create two teams.

Each has fostered its own team spirit and style of play, but there remains a club ethos which shines through; both teams stay to watch and support the other, and the financial burden of starting up the team has been shared by every member of the club, helping make Old Garchonians an institution all involved feel a part of.

There is an unspoken acceptance that everyone is doing their best to ensure people are playing in the right team.

No easy task 

The players seem content - ask Alex Ferguson, this is no easy task - and this is a glowing testament to the hard work and commitment of those in charge of running the club, and the patience and attitude of the club’s 30 plus players.

Having recently won a local tournament the club is looking strong both on and off the pitch, and barely six months old, Old Garchonians have good reason to believe they can go from strength to strength.

Seeing this level of community and camaraderie in a group of young men who are making nothing from their endeavours is a beacon of light in a footballing world increasingly darkened by the greed and attitude of those at the top of the game.

And, more significantly, it is an impressive and worthy tribute to the memory of Freddie Garcha.

By Sam Joiner


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