THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Part -time TV soap star look alike, part-time adventure explorer - Craig Gurney looks at Swindon Town's chariman

Distinguishing Features He used to look a bit like Coronation Street’s Les Battersby in a sharp suit. But not even Tricky Rikki can cheat the ageing process and he is now starting to look like the middle-aged businessman he surely is; more bloke down the golf club than bloke down the pub. The Battersby motif still has some mileage though. Les, you may recall, has made a fool of himself over professional blonde scouser, Margi Clarke. Hunt has a love of all things scouse; himself for a start. He stood by another blond (if receding) scouser, Steve McMahon, much longer than he should have. Even now, Hunt will not hear a bad word spoken against the manager who brought us two years of disastrous mid-season slumps. 

Habitat When he joined the board in 1991 he was managing director of a local petroleum company. Since taking over as chairman about three years ago he has become some sort of indep­endent management consultant. Rikki's other habitat is more exotic. In his spare time he climbs mountains as testing as Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro and goes on expeditions to remote corners of the globe. Hunt may well be the only Football League chairman to have planted his teams’(Swindon and Liverpool) flags at the North Pole.

What use is he? To be fair to him (which, given the rhyming opportunities offered by his surname, happens less often than it might do) he has put the club on a more secure financial footing in the past few years. Since joining the board he has had control of the club’s financial management and budgeting arrangements. A turnover of £4 million a year and debt interest payments of £300,000 a year may not be the healthiest state to be in, but it could be a lot worse. There is firm talk of attracting a £5 million injection to the club this year, though an anonymous £1 million of it is contingent on him giving up the mountaineering – presumably this is either from his mum or his life assurance company.

Who remembers his birthday?
Apart from Steve McMahon, his mate David Hempelman-Adams, who is his constant companion on trips to the Arctic wastes.

Quote unquote
Recent public relations disasters included a lengthy article in the local newspaper in which he made it clear he is not looking to make any personal investments in the club as it is “a mug’s game”. Last year he described our small but critical away following as a bunch of “mindless morons”.

Other offences to be taken into consideration
After a “Hunt out/McMahon out” pitch invasion this season he said he would study police footage and place a life ban on everyone involved. This at a club which struggles to get 7,000 through the turnstiles. Nor did he endear himself to fans by saying how disappointed he was that new manager Jimmy Quinn wasn’t a scouser. He is responsible for us running out in a greyish-peppermint third kit designed to mimic the packaging of an engine oil. And he is a key actor in the campaign to secure city status for the borough of Swindon. While I accept Swindon is more of a “postmodern location” than a place and may be an “M4 corridor magnet”, the football club will always be “The Town”, Mr Hunt!

From WSC 145 March 1999. What was happening this month

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