Tributes for true St Albans City great Phil Wood

St Albans City 1970-71: back row: Mike Pardey, John Oxley, Les Burgess, Trevor Howard, Ray Bloxham,

St Albans City 1970-71: back row: Mike Pardey, John Oxley, Les Burgess, Trevor Howard, Ray Bloxham, Paul White, Phil Wood Front row: Les Picking, Roger Grant, Bobby Childs, Dave Neville (captain), John Butterfield, Tony Roberts Inset: Paul Collett. Mascot: Stephen Eldridge. - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to St Albans City’s record appearance maker Phil Wood after he died at the age of 76.

He made 900 appearances for the Clarence Park club in two spells between 1962 and 1984 and also managed the reserves side.

That final tally was only discovered after research with the original belief being that he had hit the 1,000 mark. He was even presented with a silver tea service to mark the feat.

He was born in east London in 1943 before moving to Watford at the age of two and staying there his whole life.

He married Patricia in 1966 after a whirlwind romance and from there she was a regular spectator to Phil's matches, both home and away.

"I lived in West Hampstead with a friend and she was going out with his brother," she said.

"It was almost a blind date. He said he'd bring Phil along one time and it went from there.

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"He was a kind man, a modest man and a shy man too. Everyone who knew him would say that.

"I went to all his games even with the children, much to some people's chagrin. I don't think they liked it.

"Phil used to get fed up with me coming some times too and used to ask why I couldn't visit my friends.

"But they would provide me and the children with food and my son, Andrew, would often sit in the changing rooms with the players."

Football naturally played a big part in their life but despite his undoubted talent he never made it to the professional ranks, something most fans and Patricia agreed he should have done.

He did though enjoy considerable success on the field with Saints.

Patricia said: "I would have pushed him into playing professionally if we'd met earlier. People always say he was the best player they'd ever seen.

"He used to play right-half before Sid Prosser moved him to centre-half and that was when things really took off for him and the club.

"I can remember Sid coming up to Phil, not long after he joined the club, and he put his arm around him and said 'I am going to build the club around you'.

"Sid recognised that Phil needed an arm around him and encouragement.

"It was a shame he never played more for England. There was a lot of animosity because he played for St Albans.

"When he was finally picked it was about six months or so after he moved to Enfield. That tells you something."

Aside from his time with St Albans City and Enfield, he also enjoyed spells with Wycombe Wanderers and Middlesex Wanderers, with whom he toured South Korea and Japan, leaving Patricia and the kids for a month "not long after we were married".

His later years were blighted by a fight with Alzheimer's, one which the disease would eventually win.

And Patricia is in doubt his football career played a part in that.

"He was so fit and he was very slim," she said. "They said he had the blood pressure of a much younger man.

"It definitely had an affect but even if someone had told him the dangers he would have still played. He loved football. It was his life.

"He didn't give up the game until he was 54."

Off the field he was an engineer and used to work for Rolls Royce making helicopter blades before doing "bits and pieces" after the factory's closure, including roofing and delivery work.

He leaves wife Patricia, two children Colette and Andrew as well as four grandchildren.