Personal thoughts from his colleagues
An obituary by its nature is “a notice of a death, especially in a newspaper, typically including a brief biography of the deceased person” and can often be hard to really put across the essence of the character and individual. While there is a need for an obituary and a place for them to bring news and to highlight achievements in life I also feel that they rarely do justice to the individual in a way that a personal memory can.
So, with that in mind, we asked ex BU Chair Dave Merritt and BU Board member Donald Kerr to share some personal memories and recollections of Eddie, to tell their truth as to who Eddie was and to bring a vivid sense of his character and personality to this news.
BU Chair /BFC Director
BU Board and Chair 2007 to 2018
BFC Board – Nov 2007 to Mar 2019
A Bees United ex-Chairman writing an obituary to an ex-Ron Noades appointee might appear odd to some – potentially even inappropriate. Yet when I heard on the weekend of the Bournemouth draw about the passing of Eddie Rogers I was truly sad at the news.
Eddie and I first met when he was the Chairman of our beloved Brentford Football Club, a role he was introduced through his personal friendship with Ron Noades. As an active supporter I was one of a large number who had a deep and heart-felt objection to what Ron Noades was doing to our Club, and was thoroughly pleased when BU (led by Brian Burgess) bought him out. Either at this point, or shortly later when Matthew Benham injected cash to allow BU to pay off Noades’ last remaining loans, most people would expect ‘the Noades appointee’ to walk off in to the sunset.
But I can say with confidence that Eddie had truly ‘got the bug’. As I became BU Chair (and so joined the Board of BFC) I found myself sitting around the board table with Eddie and others. I found myself in the Griffin Park boardroom on matchdays with Eddie. And I found myself at the Director hospitality at away games with him… and here it really told: Eddie went to games week in, week out. I know a fair few dedicated Brentford fans who travel around the country following our Club, and Eddie was as dedicated as any. It was definitely not for the prawn sandwiches – he didn’t need to do it for that, and yet no matter how remote some of those northern towns were over our years in the lower leagues, how many times we had evening cup fixtures against non-league opposition, or how awkward were the kick off times… rain or shine Eddie would be there.
And to really emphasise the point, we (BU) relied on cash injections from Eddie (and others) to keep the Club afloat. He was one of the ‘investor directors’ who each lent £250k to the BU-owned Club. It was that money – alongside all the bucket collections and donations – which enabled BU to keep the Club going during those challenging years.
But far more important than all of that, the real reason I was sad at his passing was that the Eddie I came to know was a thoroughly nice guy. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. Ever. He was really pleasant to everyone he met, and that made him a great ambassador for the Club and a pleasure to be around. I will miss the Eddie-isms that he – like many of us – would come out with… “we could do with a goal here” when 1-0 down… or when the teams were deadlocked “if we are going to win this we need to score”. It brings a smile to my face to think of him saying them.
So Eddie and I may have started on ‘opposing sides’, but I look back on him now as a fellow Brentford fan, a knowledgable follower of football, someone who spent years trying to make the Club stable and successful, someone who put his own money in to the Club when it truly needed it, and who helped BU keep the Club afloat, but overall, I will look back on him as a thoroughly nice guy. He will be missed.
BU Board 2007 to 2018
BU Board Secretary 2012 to 2018
BFC Board – Jan 2009 to June 2022
BFCCST Trustee (current)
It was with great sadness that I heard of Eddie’s sudden death earlier this month. I got to know him first when I joined the BFC board as the BU representative, and over the next 15 years spent many enjoyable hours in his company travelling to and from Brentford away games. There was a small group of directors, John Herting, Alan Bird and David Heath who had established an away travel routine, and Eddie immediately enrolled me into their number. He offered to pick me up and drive me, and I don’t suppose we missed more than a few matches over that period, sometimes as a larger group In John’s car but very often just Eddie and myself. He was a very gentle, good natured man. I don’t believe I ever heard him raise his voice except in support of the Bees, and he often exasperated the rest of us by attempting to look on the bright side of every situation – not always easy after a defeat on a Tuesday night several hours from home. I couldn’t have wished for a better companion with whom to share those long drives home.
Eddie was an enthusiast in the interests he pursued. Apart from football – he had been a Sunderland fan since childhood – his other passion which I shared was music, of all periods but chiefly R&B, early Rock & Roll, and both US & Northern Soul. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge and we spent hours on the road talking football and listening to downloads from his extensive vinyl collection. I would be constantly tested with questions like “who do you think this is? Do you prefer this to the Elvis version?” But it all shortened those journeys. Like all enthusiasts, Eddie was keen to broaden my musical horizons and it wasn’t at all uncommon, and characteristic of him, to greet me with a CD he’d compiled of an artiste in whom I’d expressed an interest. In the more recent past he suffered bouts of serious illness, and his purchase of a house in Spain meant we saw even less of each other. However, our friendship had long gone beyond travelling companions and we continued to exchange notes, particularly through the endless days of lockdown on bands we had rediscovered in our own archives.
Eddie, as our longer term fans will know, joined the Club board when Ron Noades bought BFC. Curiously, at the time Eddie was only a close neighbour of Ron’s rather than a particularly close friend, and, while their friendship grew and outlasted their association at Brentford, Eddie was very much his own man. When Ron sold the club to BU, some might have thought Eddie would also leave, but he had developed an affection for Brentford and took up the offer to invest a sizeable sum of money, along with only a few others, to remain on the board. Eddie had built a successful business developing and managing residential and commercial property in South London. Over our time together I learnt quite a lot about that business and I often wondered how such an essentially nice guy had done so well in what can be a tough sector. There was obviously more steel in the velvet glove than was immediately apparent.
As a supporter, Eddie was fiercely loyal to Brentford FC. He wouldn’t have a word said by others against them or members of the team. And, over the years, he would always have a particular favourite player that he would defend against all comers. When we all travelled together it would usually fall to me on the way home to question whether, for example, Ryan Woods had pulled his weight in midfield. Latterly it might be Sergi Canos who was another Eddie pick. There would be a moment’s hesitation and then he’d take the bait and launch into a fervent and lengthy defence of the player. And, typical Eddie, he would join in the fun of having been prompted to do so.
Anyone who knew him would be aware that how he liked to engage others in conversation, and how difficult it was to extract him from a busy room. We would often find ourselves in a club car park, facing a two or three hour trip home after a midweek match, and discover we’d left Eddie behind still enjoying the post match post-mortem with the opposing directors. On one notable occasion when we’d lost to Oldham and had our centre half, Miguel Llera, sent off, I was keen to start for home but he was insistent that we should visit the dressing room and “have a chat to Uwe”. My instinct that this was perhaps slightly misjudged was borne out but even Uwe couldn’t get too upset with Eddie’s obvious and enthusiastic desire to make the best of a bad job. It was the same on train journeys when we often found ourselves on the same train as even lower division sides who were travelling on the morning of the game. Eddie would seek them out to ‘have a chat’ with the directors or managers, and on one occasion, John and I were sure that if we hadn’t broken off his discussion with Phil Brown as he and his Southend squad boarded their coach as we changed trains, there was a risk Eddie would have been away with them too.
All those fans who travel to away games have stories of things that went wrong, train cancellations, late game cancellations, dreadful weather, etc. These are the stories that help bind them together, and help to make sense of the madness of making all these trips. When I joined the directors’ away group, they already had a fund of such tales, including filling a petrol car with diesel, or vice versa, on the way to that ill fated FA Cup tie in Barrow. But Eddie and I created our own over the years. I remember an FA Cup tie in Bradford, it may have been a replay, on a Friday night I think, where only ten of us sat in the upper tier of their main stand in the freezing cold, and then drove home in freezing fog to find my car completely frost bound at 2am in a car park just off the M25. Eddie’s typical Pollyanna response was to suggest it wasn’t’ as cold in Bradford as when he and John had sat throughout the match with snow in their laps. How could you get remotely annoyed with that?
Brentford FC have lost a passionate committed supporter. Someone who was not a fan by birth or location, but who became one of its staunchest supporters. And, as I hope you can tell from this insufficient note, I have lost a pal. He will be much missed.