Saffron Walden Town FC volunteer, Jim Haines, has been recognised with an FA 50-Year Award for his services to football, which was handed to him before a recent home fixture.
Andy Chaplin (Essex County FA Chairperson and FA Representative) recently attended the Tolleshunt D'Arcy Memorial Cup match between Saffron Walden and Chelmsford City to present him with his memento. Jim is a recognisable figure in the local refereeing community, as well as through his voluntary work in cricket and for charity.
Jim spent most of his professional career at the Chase Manhattan Bank (now part of JP Morgan Chase Bank) and, for many years, was Secretary and Treasurer of their sports and social club. One of his additional functions was to organize guest speaker dinners/events. Among the guests were footballers Jack Charlton, Jimmy Greaves, Tommy Docherty and Bob Wilson, plus boxer Henry Cooper, cricketer Graham Gooch and rugby player Martin Bayfield.
From 2002 until 2014, Jim was Cricket Secretary of the Lord’s Taverners, the world’s largest cricket charity. During this time, he asked referee Howard Webb if he had any items of memorabilia he could spare to donate to a charity auction. Howard, very kindly, provided his reserve referee’s shirt from the World Cup final in 2010. This was framed and sold for a significant amount.
Within the local football community, Jim is noted as somebody who joined Old Highburians FC a few days after his 17th birthday, playing his last match one week before his 50th. He appeared in over 750 games, mostly in central defence (occasionally in goal), and was never cautioned or sent off. You could say he was the predecessor to Gary Lineker, who achieved a similar feat.
Jim qualified as a referee in 1988 and, whilst still playing on Saturdays, until 1994, he refereed on Sundays, mainly in youth football and in the adult Chelmsford Invitation League. From 1994, Jim began refereeing on Saturdays, too, on the Old Boys’ Football League, which was affiliated to the Amateur Football Alliance.
He joined the Essex Olympian League in 1999 as an assistant referee and, in 2007, also linked-up with the Eastern Counties League (now known as the Thurlow Nunn League) as an assistant. For several years beyond 1999, after retiring from work, he also refereed Essex Schools games for several years, sometimes two or three a week during the season.
Jim arranged the referees for several end-of-season charity events, including for Marie Curie at Upton Park for three years, and for Right to Play at Stamford Bridge for five years. He also helped the Referees’ Association (RA) organise their ‘Eve-of-Final Rally’ in London the night before the FA Cup Final, with the final’s match officials being the prime guests and focus of the function.
As a reward for undertaking this, he had the honour of leading the match officials from the anteroom into the main auditorium for five years. The referees during this period were Steve Bennett, Mike Dean, Howard Webb, Chris Foy and Martin Atkinson.
On qualifying as a referee in 1988, Jim joined Chelmsford Referees Society, and he remained a member until 2006, when he moved out of the area. He’d served on the committee for 16 years. In 2015, he moved across to the Halstead & District Referees Society, where he is still a member.
Since 2016, Jim has been a Director of Saffron Walden Town FC, a Step 5 club currently playing in the Essex Senior League. During this time, he has served as Secretary and Treasurer. Jim was counting cash when he had to be interrupted at the match to find out there was a surprise for him!
Congratulations Jim… here’s to the next 50 years! If you’d like to find out more about becoming a volunteer in grassroots Essex football, browse the menus above. You can also interact with us via the @EssexCountyFA account on Twitter/X, or by searching for the ‘EssexFootball’ page on Facebook.