Without people like Graham Cartlidge local football would not survive.
Today the Rhyl FC stalwart is celebrating a significant milestone as he turns 70. For most of these 70 years he has been involved in the football club through various roles, all carried out with pride.
Graham’s first association with the club was playing for the juniors in the 1960’s and he then started helping out around the ground doing vital maintenance tasks in the mid 70’s.
Towards the end of the 70’s and into the early 80’s he helped form the very successful supporters association which played an important role as the team progressed through the North West Counties League into the Northern Premier.
Graham has been kitman for the club for the majority of the last few decades after first being asked to take on the role by the late Terry Murphy, who sadly passed away recently.
Graham said: “Being a Rhyl lad, I’m proud to have been involved with the club, to me it’s more than a club it’s a way of life.”
In terms of high points, Graham cites great days such as when Rhyl defeated Barnsley in an FA Cup second round replay at Old Trafford in 1970, promotion to the Northern Premier League in 1984 and in more recent times everything to do with the seasons 2004 to 2010, when the Lilywhites won the Welsh Premier League and Welsh Cup twice and represented Wales in Europe for 6 successive seasons.
He added: “I’ve so many more memories, more good than bad, and I’ve made many good friends through the club – my wife Sue calls it my second home.”
Many of these memories have now been collated by Graham into the Rhyl FC museum, located at the ground, which displays memorabilia of these special moments in the club’s history.
To celebrate Graham’s birthday, the directors sourced a match day programme of Stoke City, his other great passion, from the year of his birth to celebrate his big day.
Rhyl’s managing director Adam Roche (pictured with Graham) added: “Whilst I’m relatively new at Rhyl Football Club compared to Graham; in the eyes of all club volunteers, players and supporters past and present Graham represents all things great about Rhyl FC.
“Everyone associated with the Lilywhites wanted to recognise Graham’s continued efforts as he plays such a trusted and key role at the club and to celebrate with him on his 70th birthday.”