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picture of Bob Trenchfoot

Disgruntled cricket fan claims his Benefit Year was "not worth the effort"

A long standing county cricket supporter who awarded himself a benefit year has claimed that the exercise has left him financially and mentally ruined.

Bob Trenchfoot, 61, of Bolsover has been left on the verge of bankruptcy and has seen his marriage collapse under the pressure. In an ironic twist he has now been banned from attending games at any first class ground in his home county of Derbyshire.

"Let what happened to me be a warning to anyone else who is thinking of having a benefit" said Mr. Trenchfoot.

Feel the benefit

Earlier this year, after five decades actively supporting trophy-shy County Championship strugglers Derbyshire, Mr. Trenchfoot decided that the 50 years spent watching the team should be formally rewarded by the club.

picture of Bob Trenchfoot
Bob Trenchfoot celebrates 50 years as a Derbyshire supporter

However when he wrote to Derbyshire's Chief Executive in March, asking how the club intended to mark his personal half century, Mr. Trenchfoot was told that there were no plans whatsoever to have any official recognition of his milestone.

"I thought that was unfair. I had spent thousands over the years following the team and it wasn't too much to ask that they should help me so close to my retirement" said the still disappointed Derbyshire fan.

Full list of Bob Trenchfoot's auction items:

  • 33rpm long playing LP: 'Leader' by Gary Glitter (heavily scratched around the track 'Schoolgirl Fun')
  • Autographed photo of late Coronation Street actor Peter Adamson (Len Fairclough)
  • Tommy Cooper's 'Just Like That' Golf Game (fully boxed)
  • Three jigsaws: Canterbury Cathedral, British Garden Birds and Kitten In Pint Jar
  • Two cardigans: one mustard, one beige
  • A box of 24 assorted tinned foods (including Heinz Curried Beans, Ambrosia Creamed Rice and Ye Olde Oak Ham).
  • VHS video of The Best Of Jim Davidson's Big Break
  • Tea towel depicting scenes from York Minster
  • Box of assorted tinsel
  • Shrunken head novelty key ring
  • Brut soap-on-a-rope and talc set (unused)

Mr. Trenchfoot went ahead and awarded himself a benefit year. He immediately placed an advert in Mr. Greenalgh's newsagent's window and embarked on a publicity drive that culminated in a dedicated Facebook page set up by his granddaughter Chloe and a poster campaign in most East Midlands branch libraries.

"I did everything properly,¨ said Mr. Trenchfoot, a former tinsel supplier, "I set up a Management Committee and produced a full itinerary of events in a glossy brochure from Prontoprint. That wasn't cheap. Mr. Greenalgh offered to do it on the photocopier in his shop but that would actually have worked out more expensive when you add in the cost of the staples and the £20 he quoted for 'labour'."

Mr. Trenchfoot accrued further expense after purchasing 1,000 specially designed benefit year ties, paying for venue hire and supplying items to act as raffle and auction prizes.

"As I went on with the preparations the costs began to spiral out of control. For the raffle I was lucky enough to get a small discount from Mr. Greenalgh for the Quality Street and Matchmakers" said Mr. Trenchfoot.

For his auction - which was intended to be part of his showpiece dinner event - Mr. Trenchfoot thought it would be more fitting, and cheaper, to use items from his own personal collection.

"I had a look through the chest of drawers in the back bedroom and found a number of things that I considered to be potentially valuable and sought after items suitable for auction. Don't forget that as part of my benefit year I pledged to give 10% of my final amount to charity so there was an added incentive to make money."

However when the auction eventually took place it raised a meagre £1.20, of which a desultory 12p was given to Bolsover Retired Umpires Fund.

A bad start

The year started badly when Trenchfoot was prevented from collecting money in the team dressing rooms at Derby. The beneficiary had made his way onto the player's balcony and asked them to put money into a bucket wrapped in tinsel. Concerned officials called the police and Mr. Trenchfoot was immediately escorted from the premises and banned for begging.

picture of Mr. Greenalgh
Mr. Greenalgh of Greenalgh Newsagents helped with the arrangements

"I must have given hundreds of pounds over the years to people shaking collection tins in my face whilst I have been trying to watch a game," he recalls "I remember giving my last 35p to Colin Tunnicliffe during a rained off John Player League match in 1982 and I had to live on packets of Cadbury's Smash and custard for three days afterwards. The one time I try and get a little bit back I end up at Derby Central nick until 3am and treated like some sort of beggar. Where's the fairness in that?"

After the shock of being banned from the ground Mr. Trenchfoot looked forward to his Celebrity Golf Day ... that was until he learnt that none of the invited celebrities were going to put in an appearance.

"I fully understand that Madonna, Pat Sharp and Nelson Mandela might have other commitments but I would have thought that Maureen from Driving School could have got there, especially now that she has passed her test. Bernie Clifton was initially going to come but then said that his ostrich costume was at the dry cleaners and he wouldn't be able to make it and apparently Colin Stagg was doing a book signing. In the end I had to make do with Dickie Funn - who was about as funny as ringworm - and Mr. Greenalgh from the newsagents. He did his best but people were expecting international show business legends not someone trying to flog out of date Toblerones."

The lack of big name guests meant that public interest in the event was non existent.

With no tickets sold Mr. Trenchfoot, Mr. Greenalgh and Dickie Funn played a round of golf themselves for the coveted first prize of a dinner for two at the Taj Masala Indian Restaurant - a contest that was controversially won by the now retired comedian.

"Dickie Funn cheated. End of." says a bitter Bob Trenchfoot. "If I ever see him again I will shove his bow tie where the sun doesn't shine. He thought it was funny to replace our golf balls with joke ones that exploded when you hit them. Then he filled the 18th hole full of jelly and custard when I wasn't looking. I had a 6 inch putt for victory. When it wouldn't go down and Dickie Funn said I had been a 'trifle' unlucky I nearly killed him."

Things took a turn for the worse shortly after the end of the Golf Day when Dickie Funn and Mr. Greenalgh sent a photograph of themselves eating a pile of poppodums to Mr. Trenchfoot's mobile phone.

"There was no need to rub it in. I was starving. I texted back and asked if they could save me some. Dickie Funn replied and said that they were having Boy George's favourite: lizard curry. I didn't fancy that so I told them not to bother. He later left a message on my voicemail which went 'korma, korma, korma, korma, korma chameleon. You come and go, you come and go ... ' I hate that man so much" said a disgruntled Mr. Trenchfoot.

But things were to get worse. Much worse. The pressures of organizing the benefit began to cause cracks to appear in Bob Trenchfoot's 36 year marriage to childhood sweetheart Maureen.

The People's Friend

picture of dog at a bar
Events were marred by poor attendances

"My wife began spending a lot of time at Mr. Greenalgh's newsagents shop during the early part of August. She told me originally that she had to keep calling in to see if her special magazine - Balaclava Knitting Monthly - was in. I thought it was odd that she could only check this after he had shut the shop for the day."

And his concerns grew when he called round the shop one evening to discuss a benefit event and he spotted his wife in a state of undress in the upstairs shop window wiping her mouth in an exaggerated manner.

"I was banging on the door for ages until Mr. Greenalgh eventually appeared in his dressing gown; very breathless and red in the face. He said that Maureen had been helping him in the stock room checking his Curly Wurlies when a box of out of date Cadbury's Cr�me Eggs had fallen off a high shelf and landed on her head. Apparently she was covered in sticky gloop and had to go upstairs to clean herself up. Mr. Greenalgh then slipped in the mess on the floor and ended up splitting his trousers. I told my wife that she should not visit the shop again unless it was during opening hours and that she should never go behind the counter area. However, within 3 days of me saying this she came home smelling strongly of Mint Imperials and with 14 back issues of Peoples Friend in her handbag: I knew something was definitely afoot."

With his marriage under pressure Mr. Trenchfoot threw himself fully into making his benefit events as successful as possible.

picture of Mr. Greenalgh's growing empire
Mr. Greenalgh's added another business to his growing empire

A Race Night / pie and pie supper in his local pub was well attended but proved financially catastrophic when a group of punters, including lucky newsagent Mr. Greenalgh, won large amounts of money on every race. "I had a funny feeling that they had seen the video before," said Mr. Trenchfoot "they backed all the winners, cleared me out financially and then had the temerity to complain that the peas weren't mushy enough."

He was forced to honour all winning bets and ended the evening more than £2,000 in deficit.

"I'm still paying the buggers off. I borrowed the racing video - called 'Champions' if I recall - from Mr. Greenalgh who said it was free with the June 24th 2001 edition of The Sporting Life and had been hidden in a box of Werthers Originals ever since. I just thought some of the races looked a bit staged and I don't remember John Hurt being a jockey but then again some people are just lucky when it comes to gambling."

Further disappointment ensued with an under-subscribed beauty contest won by 74-year-old Doris Trill one of three entrants, all from Sunny View Nursing Home.

"She won fair and square and I appreciated her stepping in at the last moment but I thought she could have had a shave first. Also in retrospect it might have been a mistake to have a swimwear round. Mrs Trill wasn't really rocking that bikini."

With debts approaching £3,000 Mr. Trenchfoot was desperate that his final showpiece event - the dinner and auction - was a success.

It was not to be.

Bob a Job

His first choice venue - Bolsover Town Hall Banqueting Suite - was too costly to hire, so out of desperation he was forced to book the main hall at the local Cub Scout HQ. Luckily for Mr. Trenchfoot it co-incided with Bob A Job Week and he was able to get the catering and waiting services for very little cost.

With 150 tickets sold it was an opportunity to recoup a substantial amount of cash.

Highlights of Bob Trenchfoot's benefit year events

  • 'Celebrity' golf day at Bolsover Municipal Park pitch 'n' put
  • Race Night / pie and pea supper at the Black Horse public house
  • An Evening with Mr Greenalgh the Newsagent incl Q and A session and an illustrated talk entitled 'Day in the life of a Newsagent'.
  • Miss Benefit Year beauty contest
  • Dinner and sporting auction with music from the Mike Hendricks Experience

"If the Dinner had been a success then I might have come close to breaking even. I'm not blaming the Scouts - they tried hard - but with the benefit of hindsight I shouldn't have asked them to provide a four course meal without supervision. The first course of crisps was OK but I expected more than Twiglets for the main and Haribo Starmix for pudding. And everyone knows that the biscuits for 'cheese and biscuits' should be crackers not Jaffa Cakes and Penguins."

Disgruntled diners demanded their money back and left long before the charity auction. When the auction took place it raised a grand total of just £1.20 courtesy of a bid by lucky newsagent Mr. Greenalgh who offered that amount for the entire lot.

"The only person who actually came out of this whole fiasco quids in is Mr. Greenalgh. Not only did he bag all of the auction items for just over a quid, he apparently made a fortune supplying the boy scouts with foodstuffs. Only yesterday I saw him out and about with my wife, wearing one of my cardigans and reeking of Brut."

In total Mr. Trenchfoot's Benefit Year left him £5,000 in debt. In order to feed himself he has been forced to find additional work as a newspaper delivery boy for 75p an hour at the new newsagent opened up by Mr. Greenalgh.

"It's been something of a disappointing year but at least Mr. Greenalgh has done well and he's been kind enough to offer me a job. My wife is staying with him while we work out the finer details of the divorce."

Bob Trenchfoot still has a number of ties available for purchase. If interested contact him at info@pleasantdinners.com and mark your email 'tie'.