FA 50-Year Awards

Grassroots Volunteers Receive FA 50-Year Awards

Mementoes Presented to Essex Football Heroes

Dedicated Essex volunteers have received their FA 50-Year Awards to recognise them for decades of selfless dedication to grassroots football.

Barry Sackett, Dennis Yellop, Derek Vernon, Ken Tunbridge, Kevin Reilly, Peter Andrew and Peter Andrews, all from Leytonstone United FC, plus referee and club and league volunteer, Mick Ewen, took receipt of their mementoes in August.

To be eligible for The FA’s ‘Order of Merit’ Award, a nominated individual must have completed 50 years as a volunteer, inclusive of their playing career but excluding any football played at school. The awards were presented by Essex County FA Life Member, Michael Game.

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.

local grassroots heroes

Profiles of these Essex football stars:

Barry Sackett

Barry joined Leytonstone United FC in 1958, and he’s been a committee member since 1961. Barry has been an active participant within the club for 63 years, working alongside many others to bring United forward from a bunch of lads meeting up on Sunday mornings at Wanstead Flats, East London, to where the club is today, with its own facility in Collier Row, Romford.

His playing career for Leytonstone United was 606 games until he retired in 1985. In 1961, he was elected to the club’s committee and he’s held many positions since, including as Assistant Secretary (1967-1972) and Social Chairman (1972 to date). Barry held the position of Vice-Chairman for several years before being elected as Chairman in 2009, a position he still holds today.

He passed his FA Manager’s Coaching Course in the early 1970s and was a registered match official. After Barry stopped playing, he managed sides until 2006. Even now, he tells the current manager where they are going wrong, and hardly misses any matches!

Leytonstone state that, without Barry’s leadership and drive over the past few years when the club has struggled, both financially and membership-wise, they may well have folded. He is a credit to the club with his devotion and commitment.

Ken Tunbridge

Ken has remained on the Leytonstone United FC committee since 1976. He has been an active participant for 60 years, playing 867 games and scoring 356 goals until retiring in 1988. It has been said that 350 of his goals were ‘pinched’ from within the six-yard box!

In 1976, Ken was elected to the club’s committee and has been very active, involved with fundraising as a member of the Social Committee since 1985. When Ken stopped playing, he went on to manage several teams and, even to this day, acts as Assistant Manager to a team. He passed his FA Manager’s Coaching Course in the early 1970s and was also a registered match official.

Ken has also served on the Management Committee of the Ilford & District League for many years, a league which has since amalgamated into the Essex Alliance League. In 1994, he was awarded his FA Intermediate Certificate for the ‘Treatment and Management of Injuries’. Ken was elected as a Vice-President in 2009 as a result of his service to Leytonstone United FC.

Dennis Yellop

Dennis linked-up with Leytonstone United FC in 1955 and has been a committee member since 1961. He has been an active participant within the club for 66 years and his playing career for Leytonstone was 790 games, scoring 139 goals, until he retired. In 1968, Derek became the team’s Fixture Secretary and Club Trainer.

He was elected as Club Secretary in 1972, a position he held until 1992. During his time as Secretary, Dennis was rewarded with the ‘Secretary of the Year’ Award in 1977/78 for the South Essex League, in 1979/80 and 1991/92 for the Ilford & District League, in 1984/85 and 1998/90 for the Romford Charity Cup and in 1988/89 for the Essex Business Houses League.

Dennis was elected as Vice-President in 2009 in recognition of his dedicated service to Leytonstone United. He was also a qualified match official. Known as ‘Statto’, Dennis has kept every piece of paper detailing information on the club’s history.

Peter Andrew

Peter discovered Leytonstone United FC in 1967, and has been a committee member since 1971. He has been an active participant within the club for 54 years, joining to help out after playing for several years at semi-professional level. Peter has been with the club ever since.

His playing career for Leytonstone United was 301 games, scoring 98 goals. When he finished playing, he also managed several teams. In 1971, Peter was elected to the club’s committee, and he is currently Vice-Chairperson, a post he has held for twelve years.

Peter’s roles have included responsibility for player welfare, in particular younger players joining the club before the role of Welfare Officer was introduced. He also acts as a matchday host at home games for visiting teams. Peter was a qualified match official, covering games when there was nobody officially allocated. In 2009, he was elected as a Vice-President of the club.

Peter Andrews

Peter joined Leytonstone United FC in 1961 and has been a committee member since 1967. Peter has been an active participant for 60 years, playing on 422 occasions until he retired and helped to manage several teams.

He was also a qualified match official during his time with the club. In 1967, Peter was elected to the club’s committee and, in 1972, became Club Treasurer, a position he held until 2010. He still remains an active member to this day and, in 2009, Peter was elected as a Vice-President for his services to Leytonstone United FC.

Kevin Reilly

Leytonstone United FC stalwart Kevin joined in 1958 and was a committee member since 1961. He was an active participant for 63 years, playing in 1,013 games and scoring 489 goals. He still turned out for the team until 2010 when they were short of players, until he retired from playing.

Kevin was also Player-Manager for several of those years, and only retired from managing a couple of years ago. In 1975, he was elected to the club’s committee and he remained an active committee member for decades. Kevin contributed towards the Fundraising and Social Committees since 1990 and represented the club at home games for matchday duties.

Derek Vernon

Derek was a Leytonstone United FC committee member from the moment the club started in 1947. He had been an active participant within the club for 73 years and his playing career featured 299 games and 251 goals before injury forced him to retire.

In 1951, Derek became the team’s Player-Manager and Club Trainer, a position he held for many years. He passed his FA Coaching Course in 1956 under the guidance of Jimmy Hill and Johnny Haines of Fulham FC. Derek held just about every role for his club over a distinguished career, becoming the Club President.

Mick Ewen

Mick's journey started in 1967 as a 16-year-old, playing with his local village team, Soberton FC, in the Meon Valley League in Hampshire. He moved to London in 1969 and appeared for Star Albion FC in London’s East End in the Thameside Combination, a league which no longer exists, playing at West Ham Memorial Ground under the stands of West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground.

He joined the police in 1975 and played for both his station team and his divisional team in police leagues, based at the Metropolitan Police Sports Ground in Chigwell. When Mick took-up refereeing, he gave up playing to concentrate on blowing the whistle. His career as a match official started in October 1979 after completing his course at the Barking & Dagenham Referees Society.

Mick soon progressed through the ranks, officiating on various leagues from grassroots local level to non-league football in the Essex Senior and Southern Leagues. He was also an assistant referee on the Football Conference and Football Combination before retiring in 1996. Mick then transferred his skills into administration, holding various responsibilities.

He started in 1987, with various roles at the Barking & Dagenham Referees Society until 1994/95. In 1990, Mick became an FA-Licensed Referees Instructor until 2004, teaching new referees the laws of the game. He has worked with various leagues who operate at Step Six to Four level as a Match Official Appointments Officer and Observer Officer, as well as other positions.

Mick also volunteered for the Essex Senior, Spartan South Midlands and Southern Leagues, including as a Match Official Pool Officer for the Essex Senior and Spartan South Midlands. Mick was additionally appointed as Referees Manager/Appointments Officer at The Football Association for Contributory Leagues (South) on a short-term contract.

In club football, Mick acted as Secretary for Ford United, Hornchurch and Redbridge, and is still an accredited FA Observer for Level Two to Six match officials to this day, passing on his knowledge to match officials on their own journey. He has assisted young officials’ progress from local park grassroots football to the Football League.

Mick’s experience in football is second to none, being well-respected for his dedication, commitment and views. His service covers 54 years as a player, match official, observer, league administrative officer and club secretary. His knowledge is extensive and he enjoys passing that on. Mick is willing to help those who want to progress and learn.

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