Time is right to go, says Gate chairman Hopwood

Squires Gate FC chairman Stuart Hopwood said it is the 'right time' to step down after taking the tough decision to retire after 11 years in charge.

Wednesday, 12th April 2017, 4:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:27 pm
Stuart Hopwood
Stuart Hopwood

Hopwood announced ahead of the club’s game on Saturday that he is to step down at the end of the season.

Under his leadership, Gate have become a well-respected and long-established club in the premier division of the North West Counties League.

Their top-flight status for next season is not totally secure but they are 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

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The 68-year-old leaves the club with a much-improved ground, two new stands and a functional clubhouse while Gate are also in a stable financial position.

“It’s the right time to step down,” he said. “Eleven years is a long time and I spent a year before that as vice-chairman, so it’s been a 12-year stint and it’s not getting any easier.

“I’m almost 69 now and I’m looking to retire from business at 70, so I thought if I don’t step down now then I never will. I threatened to retire before but I was asked to stay on which I did, but in hindsight I probably should have gone then.

“I will remain a member of the club and I will still go to games whenever I feel like it. So there are no underlying reasons for my retirement and there’s nothing untoward. It’s just my time to go.

“The club is hopefully safe from relegation and it doesn’t owe any money, which is no mean feat. But getting sponsorship has become increasingly difficult so we’ve been reliant on our clubhouse as our main source of income.

“But the club is stable and in a good position, which is good in this day and age. Now someone else needs to come in and take the club to another level. It’s not for me to do that.”

Hopwood says he is now looking forward to spending more time with his family and watching his grandson, who has recently signed a contract with Fleetwood Town’s youth team.

He added: “It’s a lot of hard work being a chairman at this level, it’s not the same as being a chairman at a professional club.

“You’ve got to be hands on and you do it for the love of your club. I’m not the sort to turn up in a suit and tie and meet and greet people. I’m the sort to put out the toilet rolls, open up the clubhouse, set up the bar and get the kit ready. It’s non-stop.

“I could not dedicate the time to do it and it will actually be nice to go and watch games, which will be the first time in 11 years that I’ll be able to do that. Normally I’d get to the ground at 1pm and I wouldn’t leave until 6pm and even then I’d have to do paperwork at home. I have enjoyed it but it’s been hard work and it’s getting harder.”