Mike Matthews – Old Boy (1953-1957)
Michael (Mike) Matthews –
I tried to make this light hearted and witty (that’s what dad was like, a quirky sense of humour) but I’m not sure that I‘ve quite managed that!! Many people have told me they thought he was a lovely, cheeky, gentleman and they would be absolutely right. Rarely, would someone walk into our house and dad not make them feel welcome. He always had that beaming smile for everybody and depending on the time of day of course, was ready to offer up a drink or two… I’m sure this was his cheeky way of grabbing a beer, after all he couldn’t leave his guests to drink on their own!!!! Dad liked to have a few drinks, and a few more on party occasions, he just loved to have his family and friends around him. He was the life and soul of the party and many a time would be found dad dancing but always with that cheeky, happy smile.
I’d like to talk about two of the things amongst many that for me made him such a special dad, his pride and support for his family but let’s start briefly with how he met a girl from Formby and fell in love.
My mum and I often say to each other that we believe in fate, that things were meant to be, that things happen for a reason and whilst it was a terrible car accident that forced my dad’s return back to the UK from Africa where he lived, it was this same terrible event that brought my mum and dad together. Dad may have followed a different route but their fortune was to meet and for my dad to marry the love of his life. Through thick and thin they laughed, they cried, they fought (in a nice way, I don’t recall any plates being thrown… Do you Tim?), they partied, they supported and there are not many that can say they made it into their 50th year of marriage! Ohhhh and I nearly forgot, they had Tim and me, surely that’s worth 50 years of marriage!!
Of course, besides the love of his life, my mum… he had two great passions… Sport and Cars! As many of you know he was a great sportsman, I am soooo proud of my dad’s achievements; amongst many other sports, he played at Junior Wimbledon, played Rugby throughout school at Merchant Taylors and for Waterloo Rugby Club and excelled in the pole vault both at county and national level, and in those days it wasn’t a sport for the feint hearted – no soft plush landing mats, a pit of wet, gritty sand for cushioning!!!
Then of course, his cars… over the years he has had many to be proud of but I think his favourite and most rewarding acquisition was his E-Type Jaguar that together with Tim he renovated. From a shell, they turned that car into a sleek, sporty, red-leathered interior, boy’s toy… however could mum compete with this; he had found himself a new model to dote on!! I kid you really, for a boy’s toy it was not, the love and dedication that went into that car was evident every time he left the garage and I’m sure my mum will agree that she shared his pride when they cruised off down the road together!
My dad’s love of cars wasn’t always appreciated by myself… all too often it meant, I would find myself on a family excursion walking around motor shows and car rallies or suffering from the noise of speeding cars as we sat on a bank at a racing circuit… not particularly exhilarating for a little girl who just wanted to ride ponies all day long!! My parents also had a strange fascination with airports and aeroplanes, watching them take off and land!! Now if I said to you that we used to jump into the car on a Sunday, take a trip down to the local airport, find a quiet spot for viewing and sit and watch aeroplanes (mum even packed us all a picnic!) How exciting does that sound?! I can vouch for Tim in saying that we have turned out to be nice, normal balanced people (I think) and that thank goodness the plane spotting anorak tendencies weren’t passed on to us!!
However, dad’s passion for sport and cars most certainly were and if I had to give you two words, they would be pride and support. The pride he held for both Tim and I in our different ventures was immense and this was evident in the support that he gave.
For dad watching Tim race his karts over many years must have brought him so much pleasure. I know dad did a bit of kart racing when he was a youngster but he must have been so proud of how much Tim achieved in his racing career. As a family, we travelled all over the country to watch him and if I could pinpoint one circuit, I would say watching Tim race at Silverstone will have been one of dad’s highlights. Who wouldn’t be proud to watch their son race at Silverstone? Tim… dad would have loved to have done what you did but remember how much pleasure watching and helping you gave him and he lived the racing dream through you.
For me, well I inherited the sporty gene from dad, although I have to say the pole vault was not high on my list of activities, in fact it didn’t feature at all… I know my limits and the crash mat is about as appealing as it gets!
I don’t want to bore you with all my sporting exploits but I’d like to try and get across how much support and encouragement he gave. Like dad I participated in many sports both at school and as an adult and during all this time, his enthusiasm and motivation was limitless. His competitiveness ran through my veins, as did his racing streak run through Tim’s. Upon realising as a youngster that I seemed to have a talent for athletics and running, I subsequently found myself a member of Stretford and Sale Harriers Athletic clubs in Manchester… I have to add that I probably didn’t have a say in the matter!! Countless evenings and weekends he spent, taxiing me over for training, competitions etc, standing around in all weathers while I went off for a competitive jog around a park or what felt like most of Greater Manchester! I know dad did this and pushed me because he saw the talent, he could see what I may achieve and that is something that is hard to see yourself as a youngster. Dad had been there, experienced the pleasure of winning and being at the pinnacle of your sport and loved every minute of it… He wanted the same for me.
Of course, the support never waned for either of us as we grew older. I grew up as a child kicking the ball around the park, jumpers as goal posts, playing all hours until it was dark but it wasn’t until I was an adult, married with 2 boys that I decided to take up football competitively! Every Sunday, without fail, through sun, rain or gales, both my mum and dad came to watch and support, the only time there was a problem was when Tim was racing on the same day… so if he wasn’t watching me, he would be watching Tim!!
I’m trying to get across how much support he gave us, how much he loved to see us succeed, how much enjoyment he got from watching us, how proud of his family he was and I want to say how proud of my dad I am… Thank you dad, you can rest now… Love you to beyond and back x
Bridget Richards nee Matthews
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