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Welcome home Sir Geoff – as he unveils new hospital unit
Tuesday 25th July 2017 @ 14:07 by Nigel Skinner
Ashton Denton & Audenshaw Droylsden Dukinfield Health Hyde Tameside

Welcome ‘home’ – Sir Geoff arrives at Tameside Hospital to officially open the new Antenatal Unit.

World Cup legend Sir Geoff Hurst came home to Ashton today – the place of his birth, and the place where he lived as a child.

Sir Geoff, who had a key role in England’s victorious 1966 team, and is still the only man to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final, is back to receive the freedom of Tameside and to open the new £600,000 antenatal unit at Tameside Hospital.

His trip down memory lane is also taking him to Hyde United, where his father Charlie played before the war, and where he has been honorary club president since 2010.

Sir Geoff was born at Tameside Hospital’s forerunner, the old Lake Hospital, Ashton, in 1941. He lived on Ruby Street and Cemetery Road, Denton, and attended St Lawrence’s School, Stockport Road, until the family moved to Essex when he was eight.

It’s an honour… Sir Geoff chats to the teams at the hospital.

The new antenatal unit, which he had the honour of officially opening, offers care, guidance and support for more than 80 mums-to-be every day.

He was greeted at the hospital by Chief Executive Karen James, Trust Chair Paul Connellan and Ashton MP Angela Rayner before being given a tour of the facilities, talking with health care staff and mums to be.

After lunch at the hospital, Sir Geoff is visiting Hyde United’s Ewen Fields ground where Tameside Council installed a state-of-the-art 3G synthetic pitch last year to maximise its use as a community facility.

He will meet members of the club’s academy and watch a game of walking football.

Following afternoon tea with the Civic Mayor of Tameside, Cllr Joyce Bowerman, and other civic dignitaries at Dukinfield Town Hall, Sir Geoff will attend an extraordinary meeting of Tameside Council later this afternoon where he will be made an honorary freeman of the borough.

During his visit to Ewen Field’s, Sir Geoff spoke to Hyde United manager Darren Kelly and offered him some solid advice.

The 37-year-old, who is gearing up for his second full season in charge of the club, hailed Sir Geoff’s visit as a source of inspiration.

Speaking to Reporter Sport, Kelly reflected on the occasion and said: “It’s a fantastic occasion, and you can see the day has been great for everyone involved.

“He (Sir Geoff) holds very famous memories for the country, so it’s been a great day and I’ve had a good chat with him – he’s a lovely, lovely fella.

“We were having a chat about management in general, and the fact that he had managed Chelsea, but not for very long.

“It’s similar to myself really, so it was nice to have a chat with him and get his point of view on things from his own experience.”

Sir Geoff Hurst with Hyde United manager, Darren Kelly

Prior to speaking to Kelly, Hyde had embarked on a five game unbeaten run during the pre-season schedule.

Although delighted with the results, Kelly maintained that he’s more concerned with keeping players fit and healthy in time for the new season, which begins on Saturday, August 12 at Scarborough Athletic.

Looking ahead to the game, Kelly said he can’t wait to visit his former club: “Myself, Gaz Prendergast, Chris Shaw, Steph Todd, and the guy behinds the scenes have been working extremely hard” said Kelly.

“I would class last season a learning curve in terms of finding out what the league is about; this season we want to give it a really good go.

“Scarborough have a fantastic set up and they’re moving into a new stadium. There’ll probably be a good 1500-2000 people there on the day.”

Despite relishing the prospect of competing in front of a packed house, Kelly reiterates the need to stay grounded for what he describes as ‘a big occasion’: “I’ll be telling my players to play the football and not the occasion.” Said Kelly.

“It will be a big occasion, and they’ll be looking at it as their return to Scarborough after ten years away.

“It will be a big day, but it’s important that we know our roles and responsibilities within the team and that we go and give it a good go.

“I’ve no doubt that if we perform in the way that I know we can, and the way we have done pre-season, we’ll be able to get three points.”

In order to make the best start possible in three weeks’ time, Kelly has enlisted the support of the Hyde faithful, who he describes as the ‘heartbeat of the club’.

With an allocation of 200 at Scarborough, Kelly hopes the Hyde supporters can out sing the home contingent – as they did so many times last season! He said: “I’ve said it all season, our supporters are crucial to our development as a team to be successful, because they’re very vocal.

“We went to teams last season where the home side had a lot more fans, but we out sung them, so I’ll be expecting that from our supporters.

“The thing about the supporters here is that they’re not just supporters; they’re the heartbeat of the club.

“They get behind the team; they encourage the team; they support the team; and that gives our players a tremendous lift, and I’ve no doubt that they’ll be doing that on 12th August.”

A full interview with Kelly can be heard below: