A young man who founded a Rickmansworth Football Club when he was just 14 has won a prestigious award for his success in running it.
Hugh Phillips, 21, was given a QPR Unsung Hero award by the Championship team for his work with Batchworth FC, which he founded himself seven years ago.
The lifelong QPR fan has grown the Rickmansworth based club from a youth friendly team into a competitive outfit with three football teams and a cricket side.
Commenting on his award, which was presented to him on QPR’s pitch at half time on Saturday, March 30, Hugh said: “I was quite surprised – it was really nice to get that sort of recognition, not just for me but for the club.
“I think my dad nominated me, I got a call from QPR to let me know beforehand. It was an amazing experience to be out on the pitch and the award was presented by a couple of legends.”
Hugh decided to create his own club in 2012, having previously played for Batchworth Cub Scouts friendly team and kept in touch with a lot of players who he knew would join his new venture.
Reflecting on the early days of Batchworth FC, Hugh said: “I always loved football; playing, but also the social aspect of it.
“Batchworth started off as a way to get my friends together to play football. I did it all off my own back; I set up a little email account and began emailing teams in the area who we could play against. Perhaps I should’ve done some better research though, as we got slaughtered in a lot of our early games – we learned a lot from that.
“It was amazing though, because if one of us scored a goal in those days, we’d celebrate like we’d won the cup final!”
There was yet more amazement to come from this new club, as in 2015, it went from a youth friendly squad to a fully competitive outfit in the Olympian Sunday League in Watford, where they won all their games in their first year.
Hugh and the club never looked back – Batchworth now has three official sides playing in the Watford Sunday League and Olympian League and has fielded over 200 players in its short yet emphatic history.
Hugh, of High Close, Rickmansworth, said: “I didn’t always intend for the club to become this, initially I was doing it as a hobby, but when I started getting loads of calls from friends of friends and people who heard about the club and wanted to join, I sensed an opportunity early on and I took it.”
The owner, being just 21, balances club work with his job at the Coach & Horses pub as well as his university studies, which he admitted can be a lot to handle.
He said: “It can be intense sometimes, especially when I’m having to chase the relevant person for club matters or if I need to go to league meetings – sometimes I’ll go straight from university to those. But I actually like carrying the burden of the club myself, as I get to set the goals, the environment and the atmosphere. Mostly, I handle it pretty well.
“I enjoy managing something or being in charge of something where people take enjoyment out of it and I love seeing the team spirit we’ve created.”
Despite initially seeing Batchworth FC as nothing more than a hobby, Hugh’s growing experience as an owner has given him ambitions beyond what he ever thought was possible.
He added: “We’re in a great place where we’re set up comfortably in the league and I can only see the club going for strength to strength.
“I’m hoping that in the next five to 10 years we can carry on building; I’d like to start running youth teams or young football disability teams if possible.”
While the burden of an owner has been taken on solely by him, Hugh was quick to aknowledge the contributions of others at the club.
He said: “Thank you to all the players who’ve come along and helped us out over the years, through both the good and bad results. The great thing about this club is that no matter what, we always leave the pitch with a smile on our faces.
“That’s what it’s always been about for us.”
Picture courtesy of QPR