Chelmsford volunteer, Eric Gallacher, who has raised thousands of pounds for local charities through his football club Writtle FC, has been recognised for decades of selfless dedication by receiving a special FA 50-Year Award.
To be eligible for The FA’s ‘Order of Merit’ Award, a nominated individual must have completed 50 years as a football volunteer, inclusive of their playing career but excluding any football played at school. Chelmsford-based Eric was presented with his memento recently by the Essex County FA’s Representative to The FA, Alec Berry.
Eric started his football career in the 1960s, playing for Highwood, Great Baddow and Park Avenue. During this time, he took on various roles within these clubs to ensure his friends and team mates could play competitive football. This included organising the team and venues and getting players to the games. He joined Writtle in 1969, and he continues to serve them today.
He was an important team member and his skills were recognised beyond Writtle. In the early 1970s, Eric was selected to play a number of times for the Essex Olympian League and Essex County FA Representative Teams, earning a County Cap in 1970 (awarded for more than six appearances). The County FA won the Southern Counties Junior Cup that season.
As with most clubs, there is always a small band of volunteers who give up their time, due to their passion for the game. Eric is one of those. He became Writtle First Team Player-Manager in 1974/75 and continued to play until 1984, managing for a further five years. In 1990, he oversaw Writtle’s Third and Sunday Teams. He took on the role of Chairman some 35 years ago.
As the current groundsman at Writtle too, he keeps the playing surface in top condition and he’s previously been recognised as Groundsmen of the Year by the Essex County FA. Eric’s passion for football led him to take up additional administrative roles on the Management Committees of the Olympian and the Pope & Smith Chelmsford Sunday Leagues.
Eric was the driving force behind the Tom Farr Charity Shield, a pre-season tournament which ran for over 20 years and raised more than £25,000 for local charities. He was also, until recently, Chairman of the Bill Spurgeon Invitation Charity Cup for a number of years. Without volunteers such as Eric, grassroots football would not be the feature it is in today’s society.
To find out more about volunteering within grassroots Essex football browse the 'Volunteers' menu above, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and search for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.