Prestwich Heys Icon Retires

Wed 24th November 2021 | Prestwich Heys
By Gary Langley

Prestwich Heys have announced that an Iconic figue, in the form of Club President, Martin Johnson.  Thos who have been regular visitors to Prestwich Heys over the years will likely have had a chat with Martin at some point, indeed when we visited there over the weekend, our delegate noted Martin's absence with disappointment as he was looking forward to the catch up.  Heys have released the story of Marrtin's retirement via their media channels this week.

President Martin Johnston has announced that he is retiring after 38 years at the club.

Martin has decided to step down on health grounds. He had heart- by-pass surgery in 2017 and has recently had further heart problems, which may require more surgery, prompting his decision.

His retirement marks the end of an era at the club which began when Martin joined Heys as Secretary in the 1983-84 season at the request of the then manager John Torkington. The pair knew each from Sunday football where Martin had enjoyed long service with the Red Lion in the Salford Sunday League. Martin recounts that he initially only came to watch a game and ended up with the Secretary’s job and staying for another 38 years!

Heys were competing in the North West Counties League at the time of Martin’s arrival and he also found himself in the midst of an FA Cup run that took Heys through three ties to the 2nd Qualifying round where they were to lose to Southport.

Ground grading issues saw Heys leave the Counties in 1986 and join the Manchester League but Martin was to soon face the biggest challenge of his tenure at the club.

In 1991, the lease on Heys famous old ground at Grimshaws, on Heys Road, came to an end and the club had to relocate to their current base at Sandgate Road.

However, it proved a difficult transition both financially and logistically. Now acting as Chairman and Secretary Martin had to steer the club through a difficult season which saw them play their home games on neutral grounds, placing huge financial pressures on the club as a lack of income added to the costs of the move.

The club finally opened the doors on Sandgate Road on the 4th April 1992 and the hard work Martin put in to keep Heys afloat during that time was recognised by the Manchester League, who awarded him their Secretary of the Year Award.

As the club established firm foundations at Sandgate Road Martin stood down as Secretary and Chairman in 1996 but took the role of Club President and Legal Secretary. Roles he has fulfilled to this day.

Over the years he has done everything there is to do at a football club. From putting his boots on to play in the late 1980’s when we were short of players, Martin has done all manner of jobs from DIY, grounds man duties to digging drains. Right up to a few weeks ago he was still busy ensuring everything was in place on matchdays and marshalling the Car Park. Throughout, he has always tried to make sure the club did things professionally and in the right way earning him great respect across the game both in the corridors of power and at other clubs too.

Martin said this week “I feel now is the right time to step aside and prioritise my health and family. I have some great memories and will continue to watch events at the club and when I feel better will look to come and watch the team in action. I would like to thank everyone over the years for their hard work, support and friendship”

Everyone at the club sends Martin their best wishes and hopes he is soon on the mend. It is impossible to measure the sense of gratitude everyone holds for his hard work and long and ceaseless dedication to the club.

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