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Nigel Eady: The story behind the man and his legacy…

An insight into an incredible individual whose kindness will help us build a brighter future...

24 March 2023

Club News

Nigel Eady: The story behind the man and his legacy…

An insight into an incredible individual whose kindness will help us build a brighter future...

24 March 2023

The purchase of the County Ground would not have been possible without the incredible donation made by the late Nigel Eady.

Here’s a tribute to the great man and the tale of his legacy, written by close friend John Carter, which will enable the football club to continue building strong foundations for a brighter future.

Nigel was born on 15 April 1937 at Church Farm in West Hanney, where he lived for his entire life.

He was the second son of Douglas and Sophia Eady, their eldest son having died as a teenager before Nigel’s birth.

Douglas was also a Town supporter, known to have cycled to the County Ground from Hanney on more than one occasion.

He was also known to have attended the opening of the original Wembley Stadium in 1923, with Nigel doing the same when the ground was rebuilt in 2007.

Nigel went to a prep school in Weston-super-Mare where he attended with a rather famous class mate in the shape of John Cleese.

They used to meet at various reunions, and even told Nigel on more than one occasion his silly walks routine had been based on the way Nigel walked!

Nigel was to move on to Lancing College near Brighton - one of the few football playing public schools in the 1950s.

His ability as a footballer did not match his enthusiasm though. The usual position he occupied was goalkeeper for the fifth eleven.

Whilst he was at school he would go to the matches between Swindon and Brighton at the old Goldstone ground should they be during term time.

His first Town match was in 1947. On leaving school Nigel became a regular visitor to the County Ground with his father.

They had a season ticket in the front row of the old Shrivenham Road Stand where they remained until after his father’s death in the late 1960s.

Nigel transferred to the North Stand and started going early for lunch in what was the new executive lounge back then, always buying two season tickets in order to bring a friend.

This could range from local farmers to lady friends and even a national politician.

He transferred to the smaller lounge in later years, lunching with a small group of loyal supporters and former chairmen where he was always popular company.

Nigel often travelled to away matches, staying overnight on long trips.

Tranmere was one of his favourites as well as Carlisle, from where he would go on to Scotland and take a few days holiday at the same time.

Nigel was well known to many supporters and always recognised by his long red and white scarf, knitted for him by his wife.

Nigel’s last match was the FA Cup game on the 8 January 2012 against Wigan Athletic - then of the Premier League.

Town were managed by Paolo Di Canio at the time and we won 2-1 – the perfect way to end 65-years of watching his team. Nigel died two weeks later, aged 74.

Upon leaving school, Nigel returned to Hanney to help his elderly father run the farm, which he continued to do right up until his death.

In later years, he turned part of the farm over to woodland which gave him great pleasure, and he’d call it his Fjortoft Woodland, named after our famous Norwegian striker.

It is now known as the Nigel Eady Woodland having been handed to the village by the trustees in line with his wishes. It is well used by the village and in particular, the local primary school.

Nigel was a great raconteur and made many friends in the farming world and beyond.

He enjoyed a good discussion and was prepared to back up his views with a small wager on occasions, taking great pleasure when his thoughts carried the day.

It was in 2010, two years before his death, that he started to think about his estate.

The owner of the football club at that time was Andrew Fitton and the Chief Executive was Nick Watkins.

Nigel started conversations with them on how to go about making the club his main beneficiary, and various suggestions were made following discussions with close friends who were asked to become executors.

He decided he wanted the funds from his estate to go to the football club but not for the benefit of the owner or the local council, but to those that owned the stadium.

Nigel’s request was to prove a very difficult challenge for his executors following his death in 2012.

Initially they set about creating the funds which are now being used for the purchase of The County Ground, but the main task was obtaining planning permission for residential development on the old farm yard. This proved to be challenging but ultimately successful.

Further funds were released by selling the farmhouse and other land with planning potential.

Since Nigel’s death, the club and its ownership has been through well documented difficulties, during which time his trustees help fund works at the new Foundation Park.

However,with the arrival of Clem Morfuni, the club has moved to a positive footing.

Progress could not be made until all debts and potential debts were cleared, and with this being achieved, it has enabled an agreement for the purchase of the ground to be finalised around the 11th anniversary of Nigel’s death.

Writing as a lifelong friend and having sat next to Nigel at hundreds of football matches, it has given me great pleasure to see this whole project come to fruition.

One of my favourite memories is sitting at his kitchen table where he said to me as I doubted his ideas, “It will be alright, John.”

Well Nigel, it is alright. It’s been a long road with many ups and downs.  

We have changed lawyers three times and tested the brains of senior barristers, but we’ve have made it.

All the trustees have played their part, but thank you Nigel for giving us this great opportunity to help the club that played such a big role in your life.

John Carter.

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