Former Cheltenham Town player, manager and director Peter Donnelly celebrates his 90th birthday today.The Abbey Business Stadium was graced with presence of an old friend earlier today, Peter Donnelly.
Peter, who celebrates his 90th birthday today, is a former Robins players, manager and director. Club secretary and director Paul Godfrey received the call last week that Peter was going to be celebrating his landmark birthday and we felt that a commemorative shirt, signed by the whole squad, was a richly deserved birthday present.
"I most definitely enjoyed my time here with this club," said Peter.
"I played three games for the first team. I think my first game was against Colchester and then Bath City. I later took the reigns as manager when my predecessor left. I was in charge until the end of the season but the team virtually picked itself.
"Cheltenham are doing so well and I keep in touch with all the results. My last game here was when we played Burnley but I think Mark Yates has done a wonderful job since taking over. They really deserve promotion and I hope they do so this season."
Scotsman Peter Donnelly played local football in his native Lanarkshire before moving south to work at Smiths Industries in 1940. He played for Smiths Athletic in Wartime football and when Cheltenham Town returned to action in 1945, he was invited along for a trial with fellow Smiths men Archie Webber and Tommy Hurst.
Donnelly was drafted into the Southern League team for two matches in October 1945 and made his third and final appearance in the club’s first post-War FA Cup tie, against Peasedown.
He returned to Smiths Athletic in November 1945 and stayed with the club for a number of years, helping them to win the Cheltenham League championship in 1951-52.
During the 1950s Donnelly was persuaded to return to Cheltenham Town by Harry Compton and assumed responsibility for the supporters club lottery, which proved so successful that a number of supporters club committee members, including Donnelly and Compton, joined the Board of Directors. He later worked for Dowtys and spent a year as first team manager.
Peter was in great spirits this afternoon and current director Paul Godfrey felt it as an honour to help Peter celebrate his 90th birthday.
"It’s always great to hear from former players and managers, particularly those from long ago, and when we heard that it was Peter’s 90th birthday we were delighted to do something for him," said Paul.
"As well as playing for and managing the club, Peter was also heavily involved in fund-raising during the 1950s with the forerunner of what is now the Robins Trust or 500 Club. He was part of a group that kept the club going for many years so it’s important to recognise that."
“I am always interested to hear from former players or their families to hear about their time with Cheltenham Town as we continue to research the history of the club. Anyone with any information can ring me on 01242 588118.”