A Hugely Admired Role Model

Big Send-Off For A Leader In His Field

A strong football representation for the farewell to Keith Pearson today…..from left are Tom Finn, Steve Greenall, John Richards, Jane Skirrow, Steve Stride, Richard Skirrow and Jonathan Hayward.

Football’s Secretaries Union, which helped sustain Keith Pearson through and beyond his highly eventful working life, continues to do him proud on the other side.

For many years after ending his service to the game, the long-time former Wolves secretary met up with counterparts from around the country for golf days and post-round analysis at the ’19th hole’.

Today, his club, Brocton Hall, hosted the wake that followed his packed funeral service in Stafford – and several friends from his profession were in attendance.

Steve Stride (Villa), Steve Greenall (Cambridge and Norwich) and Keith’s Molineux successor, Tom Finn, were among those present to honour his memory, the one notable exception from those days on the fairways being Ken Merrett (Manchester United).

Also among the gathering was Richard Skirrow, to whom golf would be a case of a nice walk ruined, but someone close enough to the family to be invited to read the poem God’s Garden at St John the Baptist Church.

He described his good friend as ‘well-regarded and well-liked’, having shared many hours of conversation with him over the seasons both about the changing role of the club secretary and the health of Wolverhampton Wanderers. What an insight they had between them on Molineux affairs for three decades.

Finn’s 18 months in office bridged the mid-1990s gap between the two men and the fact he drove from north of Blackburn to be present this afternoon while Greenall travelled from Cambridgeshire and former Wolves chairman Jonathan Hayward from Bath underlined what a popular figure we were there to remember.

‘KP’ in the early 1990s; a smile for everyone.

From the playing ranks came Steve Bull and Andy Thompson, the Albion duo Pearson greeted at the ground’s entrance on Waterloo Road on a chilly, history-changing morning in November, 1986, while the gold and black representation was extended by John Richards, who knew him as far back as the late 1970s days when he was no more than the club’s accountant.

In our July 21 obituary, we detailed the enormous impact of a man who subsequently became secretary and then a director, although further anecdotes continue to come to our attention; like the time Doug Ellis, during his weeks as Wolves chairman alongside Malcolm Finlayson in 1982, drove him and a bagful of season ticket cheques to the town centre in style and urged him to open a new account in which to place them in order to keep them out of the clutches of the Official Receiver.

And we have learned today what a valuable guiding light Keith was to the younger generation.

Following his departure from the club in November, 1994, Graham Taylor asked his own secretary, Dot Wooldridge, which club secretaries he had tended to have the most to do with. On being told Cambridge’s Steve Greenall was one he shared many chats with, the manager rang the Abbey Stadium to mention Wolves’ advert in the Daily Mail and then did the showing-round when interviewing took place shortly afterwards.

In the event, Greenall was pipped to the job by Finn, who also got the vote when both men went for the Blackburn job in 1996. But it was an example of good networking and the kindness we all became used to at Molineux.

Today’s service was held in the part of town in which Pearson had grown up and in the church in which he had been a chorister and got married in 1965. He and Joyce met in their teens before he embarked on jobs at Universal Grinding Wheel and English Electric, two of Stafford’s biggest job providers.

It was when another employer went bump that Keith was grateful to see the Express & Star job advert that led to him being appointed by Wolves in 1977.

It was the start of more than a decade and a half of service that he followed with nine years at Derby, most of them in the Premier League. It’s a strange coincidence that he met The Queen at stadium-opening ceremonies at both clubs – the family still having the pen she used when cutting the ribbon at Pride Park.

No names required…..

And the old boys’ network had come in useful again…..it was already-departed Wolves chief scout Ron Jukes who heard about the secretarial vacancy in the East Midlands and suggested that his out-of-work former Molineux colleague should apply.

‘KP’ was 79 when he passed away on July 17, the couple having two sons and two grandchildren. Two more members of what must have felt like his family, long-time Wolves backroom girls Claire Peters and Sarah Egerton, were among the mourners today, along with several officials from Milford Hall Cricket Club, where he played enthusiastically before taking up golf.

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