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In the winter of 1992, Manchester City Council’s Treasurers Department had another of its restructures. Andy Fildes, Noel O’Toole, John Nelson, Chris Law and Ray Scott worked together in Room 101 in the Town Hall and were about to be relocated around the building. Andy suggested to the others about meeting up for a drink or two. Ray Scott was aware of a micro-brewery owned by Brendan Dobbins. Brendan had only one pub which was based in Chorlton-on-Medlock that sold his beers called The Kings Arms which was chosen as the location. A good night was had by all and a decision was made to do the same again the following month.
After a couple of other ventures around the pubs of Manchester, the arrival of a CAMRA produced ‘Metrolink pub crawl’ provided the first out of town venture. The next month’s trip took our group to Bolton where we were joined by Colin Larsen & Dave Whittle at the Sweet Green Tavern. We later met Mike Whittle who was to join us on subsequent trips.
The initial walk of our group was to Edale in May 1994, where Colin Larsen took it upon himself to produce a resume of the day and thus from that day to present day minutes have been produced from all our trips.
A couple of months later, our growing band took a trip to Marsden for a pub crawl where we were aware of another group of work colleagues in town who also liked a drink but who preferred to work up a thirst by having a walk before their drinks. The two groups met in the Riverhead Tap, a pub which at the time brewed its own beer. The banter between the two groups was good and the decision to combine future socials was made and thus Robert Holmes, Kevin Jordan, Alan McGarty and Syd Bennett were added to the group.
In addition Dave Winder who had joined us brought in a pictorial record as he became an unofficial photographer periodically producing DVD’s of our trips which were distributed at another of our now forming traditions ‘The Xmas Curry’. Following a walk around Glossop in December 1998, we became aware of a Robinsons pub, The Bulls Head which had a franchise with an Indian concern led by our friend Mahmood. Over the subsequent years we have continued to visit Glossop where we have built up friendships with the staff in the Crown, the Friendship and the Globe who all welcome us on our Xmas jaunts.
Word got round of our trips which by this stage had been agreed would be every Friday after our 15th of the month payday, group members invited friends namely Neil Shortland , Miklos Gambos, Bob Rial, Roger Wallace, Dave Dalton, Martin Baker and Alan Larsen to join our growing numbers.
Alan joined Robert in becoming our walk organisers. They also took us into Europe with our short breaks where we have visited Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague and Krakow. Neil Shortland organised a trip to Budapest to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Alan also organised for our cricket fans overseas trips to watch England play Test Matches in the West Indies (Trinidad and Barbados), South Africa (Cape Town), Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) and New Zealand (Auckland).
Larry Johnson who was in the Town Hall for a meeting, bumped into Andy who told him of our endeavours and he joined us the following month. Larry subsequently brought Mark Nutter into our group.
Steve Carey who had joined us on various occasions became a more regular member and brought into our company Adi Hammond .
One man who declined to join our now elite group was Clive Benson. He informed Colin (who had made the offer to him) that he wasn’t joining a bunch of ‘OWD Codgers’. As our group enjoys touring new areas, it was agreed to call ourselves ‘ The OWD Codgers On Tour’. Kevin Jordan kindly bought Polo Shirts with our group name and logo on them. This is our uniform which HAS to be worn after our walk is completed and the serious drinking begins. Once Clive reached his 50th, his opinion changed and he has now become a member of our elite group.
In 2000, a small group of 6 codgers took a decision to have a short break walking and drinking based in Keswick. Subsequent annual trips have been to Ings, Grassington, Hawes, Cropton, Kettlewell, Youlgreave. Broughton-in-Furness and Bishops Castle . The numbers attending have grown from the initial 6 to this year’s total of 21. These short breaks incorporate setting off on a Sunday morning for 3 days walking and 2 nights drinking.
From what started back in 1992 as a few colleagues going out for a few drinks, the ‘OWD Codgers’ has become a popular group with more people joining regularly. In the last couple of months Steve Goff, Kevin McDonagh, Mike Melia & Mike Worthington have joined. Steve with his brother Anthony has took the group into the 21st century with the introduction of a WEB site along with Social Networks of Facebook and Twitter.
The OWD Codgers go from strength to strength.