Old Garchonians are planning a lasting legacy in memory of Freddie
‘Siempre Sera Amado’ reads the slogan on the Old Garchonians club crest – Freddie Garcha will ‘always be loved’ by those who knew him.
His family and friends, as well as the community, were left shell-shocked by news of a mugging that led to his tragic murder in March 2011 while travelling in Colombia.
The north London club was formed shortly afterwards by club captain Tom Lytton-Dickie and co-chairmen Daniel Emmerson and Luke Tripp in memory of this effervescent character.
“Freddie was my best friend. He was a great guy, he liked football and loved winning,” Tripp told Ham&High Sport.
“He was very open-minded in terms of the type of people he would hang around. So long as you wanted to have a good time, he was happy to be around you.”
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The recent passing of Nelson Mandela has reminded communities all over the world of the way in which sport can unite people in times of hardship – and the founding members of Old Garchonians used the same principle to bring together those who knew Freddie and create an amateur football club.
“For the reasons that the club was formed, it became very popular within our area because Freddie was such a popular person,” Tripp said.
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“People showed a huge interest, not only in playing, but also in supporting the club, and we have tried to create a legacy in Freddie’s name.”
Having played a season of friendlies in addition to two successful cup campaigns during 2011-12, the club quickly expanded to two and then three teams in its second year, playing in the Southern Amateur League at senior, intermediate and junior levels respectively.
The Old Garchonians’ committee – which includes secretary George Lewis and the O’Callaghan brothers, Nic and Chris – is at the heart of the club, and that solid backbone has laid the foundations for remarkable success on the pitch.
The first team remained unbeaten en route to winning the league title last campaign, while the second string finished second in their division and secured promotion.
It has been a similar story this season. The first XI are still yet to taste defeat since its formation – despite moving up a division – while the second XI are also undefeated and the same applies to the third XI, who sit second in the table with two games in hand.
With the newly-formed fourth team navigating their way through to a cup semi-final, Tripp is delighted with the progress at the club.
Despite limited financial backing, there are more than 70 members – and he believes there is further room for expansion, given the wider community’s affiliation with the club’s ethos.
“We’ve grown very quickly and there is a lot of support from Freddie’s friends,” he said. “We’ve tried to make room for everyone who has wanted to be involved.
“The atmosphere of the club has welcomed in people who didn’t know Freddie, and they have bought into the culture.”
The club trains every Tuesday at White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre in Wood Green, while the scarcity of good playing fields in north London means that the club’s main playing pitch is at Botany Bay Cricket Club in Enfield.
The players consist of many ex-school friends of Freddie from several areas of north London, including Muswell Hill, Highgate and Finchley – and the majority attended school at Fortismere, Dame Alice Owens, Woodhouse and Alexandra Park School.
“We get lots of spectators, particularly at important games,” said Tripp. “When we won the cup in our first year, we had around 200 fans cheering us on.
“It’s just a bit different to the typical Old Boys culture found across London in that it is run by young people.”
Tripp is eager to build stronger ties with the community, adding: “We have plans to set up an OG Foundation which will aim to bring younger children into the club and provide them with training and mentors.”
Despite the club’s relatively recent formation, third XI member Will Bowley believes the spirit in the dressing-room is akin to one that has been in existence for many years.
“From first team to fourth team, the vibe of the club is fantastic,” he said. “I also play for Highgate Cricket Club, and that’s been going for 100 years. Old Garchonians has a very similar feel to it, and it’s only been going for two.
“That’s down to people like Dan, Tom and Luke and the way they run it. I went from not playing at all to playing three times a week, and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.”
You can donate towards the growth and legacy of Old Garchonians by visiting the club’s website at www.oldgarchonians.com/