FA 50-Year awards handed out to United Ockendon’s Chris Baker and Upminster Park Rovers’ Dennis Wyman
PUBLISHED: 16:00 12 July 2018
The pair have dedicated over 50 years of service to local clubs and played a massive role for the community
United Ockendon FC’s Chris Baker and Upminster Park Rovers YFC’s Dennis Wyman recently received rewards for decades of selfless work.
The Essex FA presented them both with a 50-Years Award to thank them for their efforts in the local area.
To be eligible for the FA’s ‘Order of Merit’ Award, a nominated individual must have completed 50 years as a football volunteer, inclusive of their playing career, but excluding any football played at school.
Stalwarts Baker and Wyman both received their awards from the Essex County FA’s Representative to the FA, Alec Berry.
Baker has been with United Ockendon all of his playing and administrative football career, albeit the club has changed its name several times over the years.
He played for Duffins FC from the 1966/67 season until 1996/97, turning out when they were short of players or when individuals didn’t arrive on a Sunday morning, and he has been pivotal in maintaining his club’s existence.
Taking on many roles - Treasurer, Secretary, Manager and Chairman - he’s ensured boys and men have had the opportunity to play football in South Ockendon.
The club changed its identity from Albion Athletic (1971-73) to Ockendon Plough (1973-95), then Ockendon Motor Spares (1995-2007) and finally United Ockendon (2007 to date).
The club has appeared in eleven Essex Sunday Premier Cup Finals, winning the competition on seven occasions.
United Ockendon (who were the original Ockendon Motor Spares ‘B’) have also won the competition on one occasion, their only appearance in the final.
Baker also took his Referee Course in 1991 and is still a match official to this day. He took up the whistle due to the shortage of referees locally, plying his trade mainly in the Thurrock Association Sunday League.
He has been instrumental in helping to provide football to his home town with commitment and professionalism for 50 years.
Meanwhile Upminster Park Rovers FC were founded in 1965 when Wyman and Jim Sadler decided to start a side for their sons, and they quickly formed a team with boys from the local area.
UPR joined the Echo Junior League in 1966 and became the first team to play matches at Hall Lane Playing Fields in Upminster. The cost of hiring the pitch for that first season was just £5!
As the club expanded, so did the area from which they drew their members. UPR now have players from all over Havering, and from many neighbouring areas.
Wyman has overseen this expansion, and now UPR have many committed members and a strong committee.
Over the years, he has guided and steered the club and has held most roles at some point, keeping them running on his own when new volunteers couldn’t be found.
In the 1970s, UPR faced difficult times financially as the country was plunged into a recession. During this time, Wyman paid all the league registration fees from his own money just to keep the club in operation.
His dedication has been unwavering, with no undertaking too small to warrant his attention. For many years, he organised the Summer Tournament and managed to persuade professional players like Trevor Brooking to present the trophies.
In the early days of the club, Wyman qualified as a referee and, until the age of 77, he still regularly refereed matches and waived any fee.
In 2006, he led UPR to FA Charter Standard status, no mean feat for such a large club. They continue to thrive, with over 30 teams playing in either the Echo Junior or Chelmsford Youth Leagues.
Wyman remains as Chairman of a club who, in June 2016, celebrated 50 years of football.