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AS Melksham Town prepare to make their debut in the Southern League this weekend, one person guaranteed to be cheering them on is joint president of the club and life-long supporter, Dave Phillips – who since 1976, has documented all 1,880 games that he has attended!
Of the 1,880 games that superfan Dave has documented, 1,468 were Western League games – and with the total number of Western League games played by the club between 1974 and the end of last season reaching 1,656, Dave believes he could be a record-breaker.
“I would like to say, and I know that there are many more people in the town who have supported and been involved with the club that are still around, but I would probably say that I have watched more Western League games involving Town than anyone else,” said Dave. “My next goal is to reach 2,000 games – which will probably take two or three more seasons, God willing!”
First introduced to the club as a spectator in 1954 by his father when he was eight years old, Dave has been involved with the club in many different roles, having previously been the assistant secretary, secretary, and vice chairman. He is currently the joint president of the club, alongside Mick Perrin. For more than 20 years, he wrote the Town match reports in Melksham News.
“There have been many ups and downs over the years. I remember in 2000 we took part in the Wiltshire Premier Shield and played Swindon Town in the final at their ground – we beat them 1-0 and they were fielding almost their entire first team squad.
“Highlights in recent seasons include winning the championship in 2015 – but we weren’t allowed to go up because of how the old ground at the Conigre stood; and then winning the Les Phillips Cup last year.
“There was also our run in the FA Vase last season. We lost 1-0 to Thatcham at home, who went on to win the whole thing. If we had won, I believe we could’ve been at Wembley in the final, maybe even won it. But it wasn’t meant to be. That was a highlight, but also a disappointment.
“When I joined the club it was always the ambition to win the Western League and win the Les Phillips Cup, and we achieved both in the last three years. When that happened we dreamed of going higher – which happened last year – so I feel lucky to see all these ambitions realised.”
Looking ahead to the new season and the challenge that awaits Town, Dave said, “I hope that in the Southern League it’s not a case of us going up and then going straight back down again. But I am quietly confident that we can hold our own.
“For the first game in the Southern League I will be there along with Mick, as we run the gate on home games – so most certainly we will be there!
“I am looking forward to a new challenge, new venues and meeting up with old friends from former teams who we used to play in the Western League that have moved up.”