Wingate and Finchley FC explain ‘essential’ minute’s silence for Margaret Thatcher
Wingate and Finchley FC will hold a minute’s silence for Margaret Thatcher before today’s home match against Kingstonian, stating it is “essential” that they honour her role in their history.
The north London outfit are believed to be the only football club in the country who will hold a minute’s silence for the former Prime Minister, who passed away at the age of 87 on Monday.
Football Association chairman David Bernstein says there will not be a minute’s silence before this weekend’s FA Cup ties, stating that the FA is “an apolitical organisation”.
There are also fears that fans may not observe the silence. The former Conservative minister David Mellor told the BCC that Thatcher “took a dim view of football”, adding: “I think it [a minute’s silence] would make a dismal spectacle and we should not try and do it.”
However, Thatcher was the first patron of Wingate and Finchley FC, having played a key role in the merger between the two clubs during her time as the MP for Finchley.
The club have therefore announced that they will pay their respects before tomorrow’s Ryman League Premier Division clash with Kingstonian.
A club spokesman told the Ham&High: “It’s not political at all. We’re the only team in Finchley, she was the MP there for nearly 35 years and, most significantly for us, she was a patron of the club.
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“We needed the council to agree the merger of Wingate and Finchley in 1991 and she helped to put us in contact with the right people and to put pressure on the right people.
“She was a big part of our history, she’s a big reason why we exist and so it’s essential that we honour her.
“For my part, I can completely understand other clubs not wanting to hold a minute’s silence, particularly those with crowds of 35,000 people and those who will be on national television because there’s no way that they will all go smoothly.
“It’s just human nature and football is a working class-sport - but we’re a small club and we feel it’s vital for us to acknowledge the part that Margaret Thatcher has played in our club’s history.
“We fully understand if people don’t want to pay their respects before the match but we’d hope that, rather than voicing their displeasure, they’ll just stay in the bar for an extra couple of minutes and let everyone else pay their respects.”
Wingate and Finchley’s former chairman Peter Rebak has paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher in tomorrow’s match programme.
Mr Rebak writes: “It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher, who was the first patron of Wingate and Finchley FC.
“We were honoured when she accepted the position as patron when the new club was formed in 1991. At the time she had already resigned as Prime Minister but remained as Member of Parliament for Finchley until 1992.
“Mrs Thatcher had played a significant role in ensuring the merger between Wingate FC and Finchley FC went ahead smoothly - and in the year before the merger was consummated both Frank Davis and Ken Aston, who led the merger talks for Wingate FC, spoke regularly to Mrs Thatcher, who used her political position and reputation to ensure that all went smoothly in the negotiations between the two clubs and with the local council .
“For her role in the merger negotiations, and for accepting the position as patron, we will always be in her debt.
“Margaret Thatcher was elected as MP for The Finchley Constituency in 1959 and served the constituency for 33 years until she stepped down in 1992, two years after she resigned as Prime Minister.
“In an extract from Wikipedia ‘she regarded Finchley’s Jewish residents as “her people” and became a founding member of the Anglo-Israel Friendship League of Finchley as well as a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel”.
“During that period in history racism was rife and there were many institutions such as schools and golf clubs which applied quotas to Jewish entrants, and Mrs Thatcher was at the forefront of confronting these issues in her own inimitable and forthright style to ensure that wherever quotas existed they were destroyed.
“By 1992 I don’t think any serious institution applied quotas for any race or religion. This concept of multi racialism fitted smoothly with the ideals of Wingate and Finchley FC, where the founding ideals were based on the importance of all races and religions playing sport together in the same team with the specific objective of breaking racial and religious prejudices.
“This belief, that racial and religious prejudice is best broken by integration and not segregation, remains a key objective of the club today.
“I had the privilege of meeting Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s when she opened an office block in Finchley, and I only speak from personal experience but I found her an extremely personable woman who was approachable, emotional and quite the opposite of the pseudonym of the ‘Iron Lady’ which seemed to be attached to her.
“It is with great pride that we ask all spectators, players and officials to observe a minute’s silence before the match in honour of Margaret Thatcher.”
Wingate will also be hosting their annual community day tomorrow, involving a five-a-side tournament and a ‘pay what you like’ incentive on the gate.
Community manager Mike Bayly said: We implemented a ‘pay what you like scheme’ earlier this season against Concord Rangers and recorded a bumper crowd which was almost treble the size from the corresponding fixture the season before.
“The community day offers a fitting opportunity to try it again. It’s a nice way to end the season and a great opportunity for people to visit our club for a price they see fit.”
Money raised from the five-a-side tournament will go towards funding the club’s various community projects, including their on-going partnership with Barnet Mencap.