SIR JEFFREY OF HARROWELL
Or plain ol’ Jeff to everyone at Hemel Hempstead Town FC. In the fourth interview in a “behind the scenes” series of chats I managed to catch up with the very lovely Jeff Harrowell or “Sir Jeffrey” as he is affectionately known at the club (he’s not a real Sir btw)
For those who don’t recognise the name, Jeff is the chap who sits just inside the gate in all weathers selling the match day programmes. He has been involved at the club for a number of years and is a valued member of the Committee.
Mitch: Hi Jeff, good to catch up with you in these strange times, I guess you are very much like everyone else involved at the club in that you are missing your football and the good natured banter you get at the games.
Jeff: Yeah, Hi Mitch. Strange times indeed and yes it’s not the same without football or any sport for that matter. I’m a big rugby fan too.
Mitch: When and how did you get involved with Hemel ? I know you are very much a Tring man and were involved with the committee at Tring Town back in the day.
Jeff: I went to my first Non-League game at Cow Lane in 1968 and saw the last couple of Tring Town games that led up to them winning the Spartan League and I enjoyed the whole experience, watching my local team. I attended games on and off for the next few years before leaving school. I played a couple of years for Tring Athletic who were then in the lower reaches of the West Herts League. Ironically they now play at a much higher level and have moved into the old Tring Town ground at Pendley.. I had previously played rugby as a schoolboy and got talked into playing rugby again for a few years. It has to be said I was better at rugby than I was at football.
I kept in touch with Tring Town though and continued to follow them before joining the committee in the 80’s before work commitments took over and I left. I then started watching Aylesbury United before answering a call for stewards there. I looked after the dressing and boardroom areas. Future Hemel assistant Manager Stewart Maynard was playing for the Ducks at the time.
Jumping forward a couple of years I met Matt Bundy who was involved with the Hemel reserve team, doing the paperwork etc. When the reserve team folded Matt mentioned my name as a possible committee member and here I am.
Mitch: Any memories that stand out from those days ?
Jeff: I remember when Bradley Walsh played at Tring, he was a decent player back in the day. I also remember a funny story from the local paper when they mentioned that a fierce “shit” from Wortley just scraped the bar ! Somebody had missed that in the proof reading before it went to print.
Mitch: Tring Town’s demise was quite sad. I think the club disbanded in 2003/04 and Tring Athletic took over the ground after previously ground sharing with them. We had some great games and keen rivalry with both them and Berkhamsted over the years. A lot of older Tudors fans still consider those games as the real local derby’s!
Jeff: Yes, good times. It was usually down to which of the three clubs had the biggest budget as to which side did well in their respective leagues. Tring had a very successful period, as did Berkhamsted and Hemel were often left behind their two rivals. These days it is different of course but both Tring Athletic and Berkhamsted Comrades are slowly working their way up the Non League pyramid. It be great to renew the rivalry again and, don’t forget we have Kings Langley in the mix now too.
Mitch: How long have you been with Hemel now Jeff and what outstanding memories do you have from your time with the club?
Jeff: It’ll be 10 years in September and I have loved every minute of it. The Bury FA Cup 1st Round game sticks in my mind as the Chairman treated the committee to an overnight stay and we had a lovely day at the ground too. We came so close to getting them back to Vauxhall Road for a replay. Obviously the Championship win was another amazing time, who can forget that season and the one before that when we just lost on penalties to Gosport in front of 2,500 fans. Great times and I’m very happy to be part of the club and be able to help out in any small way that I can.
It was great when Charlie Sheringham was here, he said to me one day “my Dad is coming to watch me play can you make sure they let him in? I said “how will I know what he looks like? Charlie gave me a rye smile, ha ha !
I also met Neil Ruddock when he came to speak at a function at the club and there have been other famous faces around the ground, especially now we play at National League level. Stuart Pearce and Dele Alli were both at the ground one evening, Pearcey got away unnoticed but Dele was spotted straight away despite wearing a hoody and scarf to cover his face. He’d come along to watch his brother who was on loan at the club.
Mitch: Well let’s hope it won’t be too long till we all get back together at the ground, stay safe Jeff, thanks for doing this, it’s good to get a bit of back ground on another of the club’s “unsung heroes” and we hope to see you in your usual spot, selling programmes very soon. Cheers mate