TAFFY Richardson – who has been dubbed the Peter Pan of non-league – has revealed how he often gets asked to pay to watch Poole Town as rival clubs think he is too old to still be playing.
The 46-year-old midfielder, a veteran of more than 1,200 appearances, was invited to cough up ahead of Dolphins’ visit to Winchester City in the Southern League on Tuesday.
However, after politely explaining he was due to be named among the Poole substitutes, Richardson was allowed in for nothing and came off the bench in their 3-1 victory.
Richardson, who is nicknamed Blue Badge by his team-mates, told the Daily Echo: “It wasn’t the first time and it has happened on about six or seven occasions. The first time was about five years ago at Horndean and I was only 41. I told the guy on the turnstile to wait until I had scored and then he would see I was a player!
“It affected me a bit the first time it happened but now I find it funny and it just makes me laugh. Other people laugh more and the players have a right chuckle about it.
“At Winchester, we arrived quite early and I put my bag in the changing room. There wasn’t anybody on the gate when we got there but a lady came in to the club room and asked everybody who wasn’t playing to pay.
“She told me I would have to pay because she said I was too old to be a player. When I said I was in the squad, she said she would collect some money off me if she didn’t see me wearing a strip.
“I did have some sympathy for her because not many people of my age are still playing at this level. If I didn’t know someone, I would wonder why Poole Town, who are near the top of the league, would have any OAPs in their squad!
“It makes it worse for people when you go on the pitch and help the team win. Hopefully, it will continue for a few more seasons. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?”
Although Poole emerged triumphant, their performance was far from impressive and Richardson was asked by the Daily Echo what he would have done if he had paid to watch the match: “I would have asked for my money back!”
Winchester City chairman Paul McCarthy joked: “Taffy is a great bloke and a great player. Facially, he looks more like 66 than 46 but he still plays like a 26-year-old!”