“Next year we’ll do it all again, hopefully bigger and better” says Baker after inaugural James Dean Memorial Trophy

Former FC Halifax Town captain Tom Baker says the inaugural James Dean Memorial Trophy couldn’t have gone any better.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 9:48 am
Tom Baker addressing the crowd at the James Dean Memorial Trophy. Pic: Stefan Willoughby

Fans and ex-team mates from Chorley and Halifax turned out in force on Sunday at Chorley’s Victory Park, with the home side winning an old boys game 4-0.

“It was a brilliant day, I was a bit nervous the day before and on the morning because of the forecast,” said Baker, who helped organise the day, which also featured fun activities for the family, live music and an auction.

“There was a little moment where I was thinking the pitch could be waterlogged and it could be called off.

Action from the James Dean Memorial Trophy. Pic: Stefan Willoughby

“But fortunately the weather was OK, it stayed reasonably dry, and it ended up being a fantastic day.

“The fans really came out and supported the day, it really couldn’t have gone any better.”

Baker says more than a thousand fans attended the event.

“I think we sold about 500 tickets online, and only a couple of hundred of them were used, so I think there were quite a lot of people on the day that bought tickets then saw the forecast and didn’t come.

“So the fact we ended up getting a thousand plus was amazing really.

“I was over the moon with how many people came and supported the day.”

Baker was part of a Halifax old boys side managed by ex-Town boss Neil Aspin.

“Obviously it wasn’t about the result, you had two really contrasting squads,” Baker said.

“We had quite a few drop-outs from the Halifax squad due to various reasons so we just about scraped an 11, and we only had two substitutes.

“In a normal game that’s going to be a struggle but when you’re talking about a charity game when a lot of the lads are retired, it’s pretty much impossible.

“A lot of the Halifax squad, probably 95 per cent, are long retired, whereas the Chorley squad, probably 95 per cent, are still playing, and they had six or seven subs, so it was a big ask.

“If I’m being honest I was quite happy with a 4-0 defeat! I think that was a really good result considering.

“Both teams I can’t speak highly enough of, they were a credit to their football clubs, the management and the players, they were absolutely fantastic on the day, they really were.

“It was amazing, from a couple of minutes being in the dressing room it’s like you’ve just wound the clock back years, nothing’s changed, it’s bright and bubbly, there’s loads of banter flying around from the players and the gaffer.

“It was a really surreal moment, and to walk out in-front of the crowd on a day that means so much to me personally, and everyone else, was a really special moment.

“That ended within about a minute of me running around!”

Dean’s family were also there on the day.

“I was heavily involved before the game getting things sorted, and had loads of conversations with the family, with his mum and dad, his wife and the boys,” said Baker.

“They were just overjoyed with the day. There were probably 20-odd family members that came, and we treated them like royalty, as they should be on the day.

“I think they were proud, and we had a great opportunity, and we really showed the family and his lads, what Deano meant to a lot of people.

“These days aren’t east to organise, people have got busy lives, so to get that amount of people there I think speaks volumes of the man he was.

“Chorley Football Club were an absolute credit, nothing was too much trouble, they were just fantastic all the way through.

“We’ve raised a lot of money, it can’t replace Deano, but if we can just do our little bit to help out then that’s what it’s about.”

Baker says this year’s game is the first of what will be an annual match.

“It will happen, because I’ll make sure it happens,” he said.

“Next year we’ll do it all again, hopefully bigger and better.

“I think eventually, in years to come, it will probably end up being a pre-season fixture for both clubs where the first-teams will play for the James Dean Memorial Trophy, and the past players can just be there on the day to support.

“But I think we’ll have a few more years yet still having a little go with the boots on.

“Hopefully it’ll go on now year after year.”