Thursday, 12 April 2012

Daddy or Chips? Daddy. Every time.

Daddy or Chips? Daddy. Every time.

For those of you who know me quite well, you will know that this coming Monday, 16th April 2012, will be the 10 year anniversary of my Dad passing away. I have wanted to write a blog post about him for quite some time now but didn't really know how to go about it. I was also quite reluctant to write anything too personal in case my family thought I was writing things only we know about, and the last thing I want to do is upset anybody. However, some of the things which seem quite personal in fact show what kind of a person he was, which is what I want everybody to know. Only a select few of my friends knew him, because he passed away when I was twelve years old, and I wish they'd known him as well as I had. Finally, it occurred to me to write what I know, because that's the advice given to writers, isn't it? Write what you know. So here's what I know about my Dad.

He was the best Dad in the world. I know everybody says that about their Dad, but seriously, I can't put into words what he was like as a Father. I always say, "My Dad was my best friend" and I mean it. I told him absolutely everything, and followed him around like a lost puppy. He was my idol, and still is to this day. He always saw the best in everybody, and liked to befriend people who were quite quiet or shy, to try and give them a bit of confidence. He was outgoing, charismatic and absolutely hilarious. More than anything, he had the most positive attitude I've ever come across in a person. For those of you reading this who knew him, you will completely understand what I mean when I am trying to describe him. I honestly don't have a bad word to say about him. Whenever anybody in my family tells me I look like him, or that I remind them of him, I feel honoured, because if I am anything like my Dad I know I'm doing alright.

One thing that stands out in my memory about what kind of a person he was is when he was quite ill. We went to visit him in Clatterbridge Hospital, and sadly discovered that he had lost the use of his legs, and was paralysed from the ribs down due to his cancer becoming so aggressive. I can remember so vividly being sat next to my brother in complete shock. We were heartbroken for him. The first thing that popped into my mind was "What about football?", because he was such a football fanatic, not to mention it being his career. My heart broke even more when he began to cry. He apologised. He apologised that he wouldn't be able to go running with us anymore, or on bike rides, or drive us to school. He apologised for what had happened to his body, and despite his suffering, he was thinking about his children and what he wouldn't be able to do for them anymore. To this day, that memory breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. He was unbelievably selfless. 

To think that I have lived the past ten years without him absolutely baffles me. A decade has passed where I have gone through high school, taken my GCSE's, taken my A Levels, passed my driving test, turned 18, gone to university, met the love of my life, turned 21, and so many other things I know he would have loved to have seen. It breaks my heart to think that my brother has been so successful, graduating from university, then graduating with a Masters, and most recently leaving home and moving to Oxford for a new job, and he couldn't share any of these moments with our Dad. David, please know that Dad would have been proud of you. Everything you have accomplished and how you live your life would have made him unspeakably proud.  I feel selfish when I think I wish my Dad could be here in the future for when I get married and when I have children and other special events, mainly because there are millions of people on this Earth who have suffered far worse than I have, and in much worse circumstances. I know I have a wonderful life, and I really can't complain about not having what I want because I have a lot more than most people do. But as time goes on, and people move on with their lives, it has become apparent to me that I don't get used to the fact that my Dad isn't here, and I don't miss him less. Every day he isn't here, I miss him a little bit more. I often find myself watching this video on repeat, just to hear his voice.

For those of you reading this blog, please don't think I feel sorry for myself. I really don't. I feel sorry for my Dad, because he was so young when he passed away, and he had so much to live for. It upsets me when people complain about their parents, because you shouldn't take them for granted. One thing I never do is take anybody for granted, and through the loss of my Dad I have realised how important it is to stay close to people who mean a lot to you, and tell them you love them as often as possible. 

My Dad is probably reading this and thinking, "Oh stop moaning man!" and he's right. I shouldn't complain, but given that it is his 10 year anniversary on Monday, and I have been thinking about him constantly, I thought it might do me good to write something down. My Auntie Moira says that anniversaries don't matter because we miss him every day regardless, and she's right. I just cannot believe that an entire decade has passed, when I still feel like I saw him yesterday. I hope that feeling never goes away.

I only knew my Dad for twelve years, but that was enough time to make an amazing impact on my life. I hope that I live my life in a way that my Dad would have been proud of. I also hope that one day, if I have children, they look at me the way I looked at my Dad. Complete and utter adoration. Most of all I hope I see him again one day. I don't know if there is a heaven, but I am convinced there is definitely some form of afterlife. If there wasn't, that would mean I would never see my Dad again, and to me that just isn't even an option. I don't hope I see him again, I KNOW I will see him again. Hopefully it'll be in about 60 years, but that's fine. Just knowing that I will see him again one day is what makes every day of my life just a little bit easier.

I miss you Daddy, and I hope you can read this, wherever you are. I will love you forever. See you at the far post. Rachel x


  1. King Billy, Blackpool FC Legend.

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  3. Lovely story, I lost my dad when I was 18 and he was only 50, never a day goes by when i don't think of him.

    Billy was a true legend at Bloomfield Road and sorely missed.

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  5. A fantastic read that Rachel (and you made me cry). I'm a Blackpool supporter and remember your father well. He was a BRILLIANT man. Often talked about and never forgotten. Good luck to you. In whatever you do x


  6. I only met your Dad once. He was in his office behind the club shop at Bloomfield Road and I was the only punter browsing the very limited line of club merchandise. He came out of his office, and asked me if I'd enjoyed the home win the Saturday before and me being much younger, cheekier and braver than I am now said "I always enjoy the home wins, but we could do with winning one or two away in a season".

    He shot me the "manager's stare" and offered me a brew in his office if I had five minutes, with the sole purpose of explaining to me why things were going wrong on the road and what he was doing to try and put it right. I guarantee that no other manager in football would have done what he did that day - as if he needed to explain anything to me! That was the man - everyone was important to him, and he wanted everyone positive and onside. A few minutes in his company and you couldn't help but have complete and utter adoration for the man. He will be a legend to me until the day I day, that's for sure.

    I was on the pitch the day that photo was taken of the supporters lifting him aloft. That and the pump fist to the crowd are memories that will never fade.

  7. Hi, iam going to post a link to which you will find interest and may take some comfort knowing how much your father was loved.

  8. Well done Rachel, you made a 53 year old Blackpool fan cry like a baby.

    You should be proud of your Dad and..........believe me........time is a great healer

    God Bless sweetheart


  9. Can't really follow the posts above apart from saying he will always hold a special place in our hearts. The Blackpool public will always remember King Billy.

    Billy Ayres Tangerine Army!

  10. Rachel, my thoughts have been summed up perfectly by your words and also the comment by Steve S. Even though, as Blackpool fans, we`ve had a great time recently, the memories of the "Billy Ayre Years" will never leave us. I only met him once, very briefly, but he came across as a hugely likeable man. No Blackpool fan will ever forget his clenched fist salute that he gave before every game.
    I also lost my father, 20 years ago this year, and I miss him every day. He passed away just after the Wembley victory in 1992. I`m glad that he witnessed part of your dads era. Legend is an often overused word in football, I`m not saying this to be nice but the word legend couldnt be more apt when talking about your father.

    Billy Ayres Tangerine Army!

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  12. Rachel I have followed BFC since 66 when my dad first took me as a nipper. Billy was a man, a hero and one of the best if not the best managers BFC have ever had. I need to stop there we all sometimes forget as football fans that managers, players or people involved in the game are fathers. After reading you blog I am touched thank you sharing the great man King Billy Dad and King Billy Manager.


  13. Hi Rachel,

    I'm a Blackpool fan also since 1966, I'm the same age as your Dad, born in 1952 and my son, David, also a Blackpool fan, is your age, 22 next week. He is doing a Masters at Newcastle in Multimedia Journalism and, coincidentally, writes in the AFC Gateshead programme.

    I remember your Dad vividly as my son's first ever game was as a 3 month old. I took him to Blackpool v Oxford over here on the Isle of Man, in the July festival. Your Dad was assistant at the time to Graham Carr, but you could tel that day that he was destined to be a great Manager, thankfully for Blackpool.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Billy will certainly be in my thoughts tomorrow . Best wishes, Phil Harrison

  14. beautiful read and wonderful memories you have shared of your dad.
    Billy was the manager of BFC when i first start properly supporting Blackpool - his commitment/motivation and most of all PASSION will stay with me for ever as a manager and as a person.

    Thinking of you all on this day.

    Dave M (from Kirkham)

  15. Lovely words you write about your Dad.
    He was a true gentleman and was adored by the people of the town of Blackpool, not just for his success as a manager, but for being a proper top-quality human being in every single way.

    The day you DO meet him again, please give him a hug from me, who idolised him as a Pool fan in many ways and wanted to turn to be like him.

    Take Care.

  16. Thats was lovely. Your Dad will be proud of you.


    Much missed.

    King Billy

  18. Reading that makes me proud to be a Blackpool fan and so glad I was old enough to remember Bill. He started our rise back up the leagues and I will always thank him for that. And what you have written also restores my faith in the human race. Thank You Rachel and RIP Billy.


  19. Dear Rachel,
    I attended your fathers funeral along with many other Blackpool supporters, Manager and staff in a standing room only church.
    Never a day goes by without some kind of mention of "King Billy" as he is nicknamed by us. He was the kind of inspirational man that you would be the first to ask for in a crisis. I am not overly religious but I said a little prayer for him today.
    God Bless.

  20. Have enjoyed reading your blog and the comments made by the various people - it reminded me of the era billy was in charge at Blackpool FC.

    My sister, my dad and I were in the crowd against Huddersfield at home one season when there had been serious concern prior to the match about overcrowding in the old East Stand (Scratching Sheds). My sister, as she's only small had moved to the front to see the game. There was a point in the game when the crowd suddenly surged forward and my sister was up against the old terrace metal fencing panicking and afraid of being crushed.

    Billy stepped in talked her down and with the assistance of another member of the coaching team lifted my sister over the railing to the safety of the cinder track - something which has stuck with my sister ever since.

    After a few minutes of chatting to my sister - while the game was going on - despite all his allegiances and affiliations to football he was a sensitive caring man who put life truly in perspective in terms of whats important when it matters. My sister again being slightly younger but no less cheeky than today when asked is there was anything else he could do lifting her back into the stand piped up - yes could you get some of the players to come to my Dads 50th birthday party.

    True to his word King Billy turned up with a number of the players at my Dad's 50th birthday - it meant a lot to everyone who was there.

    Live life like your father and you will be truly emotionally rich.



  21. You should be proud of yourself and your dad.
    He was the greatest manager we ever had and loved by everyone at Blackpool.
    We might of not been in the Premiership when King Billy was manager but he was one of us and loved by all. No manager before or since has ever been at one with the fans.
    He was such a nice man and you do look like him.
    Be proud.

  22. What a lovely blog that made a 52 year old Scarborough supporter cry.

    I remember Billy as a big tough rugged centre-half who took no prisoners, but he was a great footballer. Sadly he came back as manager here in later years and didnt do well because of our poor financial position at the time but make no mistake he is loved by all of my generation of "Boro" fans

    My father Derek Watson,who died in 1999,was a director of Scarborough FC and became great friends with your Dad often visiting your home, usually when he attended the Grand National in his later years and he absolutely loved Billy and always came home with a funny story from him.

    I remember them holidaying with Scarborough FC in Gibraltar sometime in the 70's and a lovely picture of the 2 of them wearing crash helmets after they had been go-karting and can remember my Dad saying Billy was no good at that because he was too big for the Kart?

    Lovely to see the esteem he was held in by the Blackpool fans

  23. Rachel WOW!
    I haven't read anything that's made me feel so emotional as your beautifully expressed blog about your Dad, King Billy.
    I'm a BFC STH now aged 33 but in your Dad's era, I used to attend all home and away matches. In the school holidays I'd go to the training ground every morning with my friend and my brother, whatever the weather. Your Dad always made a point of speaking to us (usually to tell us we must be mad on the rainy days) I remember during one torrential downpour he sent us to stand in the doorway of the training hut and watch the training from there. Even though he was hard at work with his squad he still had a thought for us! He really was a remarkable and gentle man.

    Away support back then consisted of a hardcore of about 200. Billy would always make a point of scanning the stand to look out for us and greet us with a friendly wave. Everytime he did that we were all absolutely thrilled and he made us feel so important! He really went out of his way to make us feel part of his Tangerine Army and for that reason alone I shall always hold a place for him in my heart forever.
    You're very lucky to have had him as your Daddy and I'm so sorry he's not still here today. I'm sure he'd be so proud of you particularly for sitting in the stands with the real fans.

    Best wishes to you 'pet' and whatever you do.

    Kelly x

  24. Thank you for your comments everybody. Kelly, reading your comment brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face at the same time! Thank you xxx