First ‘outsider’ takes Suffolk football’s chief role

PHIL Knight has become only the seventh secretary (now chief executive) to run Suffolk Football Association in the last 100 years.

And he is the first to hail from outside the county.

This might well cause some dismay among the footballing fraternity in the county, but outgoing chief executive Martin Head today said that he could not have a better equipped successor.

“Phil is based in Kent, but this will be no hindrance at all to the way he will serve Suffolk,” said Head, who took over in 2002.

“It is a terrific appointment and Phil is the right man to move the role on.”

In 1910 Suffolk was served by the FA and AFA with H Morris secretary of the former and J Wilkinson doing the same job for the latter.

Since 1919 Suffolk’s footballing interests have been controlled and advanced by a succession of immensely talented locally based Suffolk FA secretaries.

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John Yallop served the county brilliantly until 1960 when Ernie Brown took over and carried on the excellent work.

Barry Collings, who is now living in Australia, took the reins from 1980 until 1986 when the late lamented Bill Steward took over the baton and ran Suffolk football highly successfully until 2004 with the job title being altered to chief executive during Head’s productive and professional tenure.

Head is in the process of stepping down having upped the anti from Steward working with a part time staff of ‘volunteers’ from his living room in Haughley to Suffolk FA now having its own offices and half a dozen full time employees.

Knight is a Football League assistant referee and is affiliated with Kent FA despite having taken over from Simon Long as Suffolk FA referee development officer earlier this year.

But former Sudbury Town, Stowmarket Town and Ipswich Wanderers manager Head sees this as irrelevant

“The world has moved on to a technological age and being local is not essential any more,” added Head.

“Phil has an all-consuming desire to do well for football as he has shown in his role as county RDO and I’m sure he’ll bring to his new post.

“There were concerns that an appointment would be made based on business concerns. Suffolk has a football man in charge – and a very good one at that.”

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