West Auckland’s Honorary President Norman Ayton turns 90 years old. A surprise birthday buffet was organised by his wife Jean in Doncaster where he moved to from his home in Bishop Auckland.
Norman who weekly gets in touch with Cliffy Alderson had no idea, in fact he was on the phone this morning and was oblivious that Club officials were planning to see him later in the day.
Stuart Alderson who got the open invite from Jean, in the post for any club officials or friends to attend, but keep it hush hush. Stuart in his wisdom, spoke to Jean and indicated that no one was available due to other arrangements, next best thing was for Stuart to write a speech for Norman’s family to read out on the clubs behalf. The speech was never written.
Along with Stuart and Cliffy, Dave Bussey went along, although Dave didn’t know Norman as long as Stuart, he had fond memories of him back in the late seventies when his father Derick worked along side Norman when he was a committee member.
Before we set off for the 91 mile journey Stuart decided to take the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy along to give his growing family in Doncaster the opportunity to see it and spread the word.
Along with gifts from the football club there was also a engraved glass trophy vase from Durham County FA. Norman spent many years as a active member of the Durham County FA and current Secretary John Topping took time to sort the gift.
The birthday buffet was a hour old when we arrived, we would have been there earlier if the venue had bothered to buy a name board instead of a postage stamp size door bell name tag.
The surprise on Norman’s face was priceless when we entered the room, in fact he was close to shedding a tear. We were greeted by a grateful Jean, and the family.
After a hugs and handshakes we headed to the bar for refreshments. Good timing as the well presented finger buffet of hot and cold food had just started.
The master piece was a birthday cake made to look like the Sir Thomas Lipton trophy, with edible West Auckland badges running around it. Stood on the top was a silver player holding the ball above the head. A top cake for a top bloke.
A large notice board decorated with photos of Norman from all ages graces the wall. My eyes are drawn to newspaper cutting from around the 1980’s. The headline reads “Clubman keeps West in business”, West Auckland FC clearly owes Norman a lot.
The “World Cup” was taken out of its box and put on Norman’s table, this brought the cameras out and the next 15 minutes was spent getting photos with it from different angles.
Current club “General Manager” Stuart Alderson took to the stage to present Norman with a “Club Polo Shirt”, “if it doesn’t fit I’m sure he has plenty of time to grow into it” were the words that was met with a ripple of laughter from the 40+ family and friends.
Stuart then presented the Glass Trophy Vase on behalf of the Durham County FA.
During his speech, Stuart touched on how Norman would chase him and his mates off the field on a Sunday afternoon, something Stuart does himself these days, also it was mentioned that he liked a Guinness or three, who says it’s bad for you, as he takes a drink from his freshly poured pint of the black stuff.
Norman will return to watch West in the near future when a family member is available to bring him. “It will be good to catch up will friends from the past” he says.
Happy Birthday Norman