An Interview with One of Brentford FC's Founders
Bill Dodge, from 1956 in Brentford and Chiswick Times
What an Easter for Brentford's President
90th Birthday on Saturday: Diamond Wedding On Monday
A memorable and busy Easter is ahead for Mr H. W. (Bill) Dodge, the genial Brentford FC president. memorable because he celebrates his 90th birthday on Saturday, and because he and Mrs Dodge have their 60th wedding anniversary next Monday.
Busy because Mr Dodge will, as usual, be working in his garden and attending the game he loves – soccer. He’ll be at Griffin Park to see Walsall on Saturday, and both he and his wife will be journeying to Northampton next Tuesday for the return League game.
Mr Dodge was one of the small band who put Brentford FC into existence and is the only survivor.
He recalls, impishly, how Brentford nearly became a rugby stronghold. In 1888 he and rowing colleagues decided to form a football club so that they could keep fit in the winter months.
“Let’s have a rugby club,” suggested Mr Dodge.
And at the meeting his idea was only defeated by one vote – thus was soccer born in Brentford.
Cattle in Field
They were enthusiasts, and only through the co-operation of a local butcher got in their weekly game.
The butcher drove his cattle from the field on Saturday mornings and along would come Mr Dodge and his colleagues, with pail and shovel, to tidy up the “ground” so that the match could be started.
Mr Dodge has been associated with Brentford FC throughout its history of 68 years, and became president three years ago.
He enjoys his football now as much as ever, and there is hardly a ground from Newcastle to Plymouth which he has not visited. That goes, too, for Mrs Katie Dodge, who soon became interested in soccer after her marriage and has been a keen and knowledgeable critic ever since.
Looking back on Brentford’s long history, both Mr and Mrs Dodge agree on the most exciting match: when Brentford beat Middlesbrough in 1905 by 1-0 in the Cup. The famous Steve Bloomer played against Brentford.
Outstanding players? Centre-forward Oakeyfield and inside-forward and outside-right Shanks.
Number one defender was centre-half Joe James – “but Jimmy Bain was also a great footballer.” agree Mr and Mrs Dodge.
Born in Brentford High Street, Mr Dodge now lives in Upper Butts, Brentford. He started work in the building trade and later went into a surveyor’s office. Eventually he became a qualified quantity surveyor, and Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects. he started the firm of Dodge and Reid, of High Street, Brentford, fifty years ago, and only retired in 1947.
There are two married daughters – Phyllis, who lives near Brighton, and Nora, who lives in Herne Bay. They supply six grand-children for Mr and Mrs Dodge.
Mr Dodge remains a remarkably fit “young” man and passes on this succinct advice: “Don’t worry.”
And helping Brentford’s president to keep so buoyant and gay is his passion for his garden and affection for his chickens.
“I have nineteen and get about eighteen eggs each day. The do their best for me.
“If I were twenty years younger I’d buy a few acres and start a chicken farm,” he says.
Still, he and Mrs Dodge always have Brentford FC to watch, to talk about, to criticise, to praise – and to cherish.
A happy birthday, Mr President, and congratulations on the wedding anniversary.
The Brentford and Chiswick Times
For more like this, visit BrentfordHistory.com
March 28, 2013