Former County FA secretary dies

FORMER Suffolk Football Association secretary William (Bill) Steward died last Thursday in West Suffolk Hospital aged 75.

FORMER Suffolk Football Association secretary William (Bill) Steward died last Thursday in West Suffolk Hospital aged 75.

Until recently he was Suffolk FA treasurer and FA representative, a position he held for 18 years. He was county secretary for 16 years until 2002.

Bill started his football involvement playing in local leagues around Ipswich and later became a referee, progressing to the Football Combination.

As well as his posts within Suffolk FA, he was an influential figure at the main FA in London and a member of a number of prestigious committees and boards - the National Game Board, Sanctions and Registrations, Finance and Funding, League Finance, chairman of The Publications Committee, member of the Publications Working Group and a member of the FA Vase committee.

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Bill played a major role in the transition of Suffolk FA from it being run from various councillors' studies and bedrooms across the county into a professional set-up. He helped to secure funding from the FA and along with fellow county officials created the permanent offices and headquarters now situated in Stowmarket. This has to be one of his greatest legacies.

A week prior to his death Bill was made a life member of Suffolk FA, an honorary member of the FA (an accolade that he holds in the company of only 17 people including Sir Tom Finney, Sir Bobby Charlton and Nat Lofthouse), and is due to receive, posthumously, a lifetime award for 50 years service to Suffolk football.

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Not bad for a little old Suffolk lad from Wenham.

In a statement issued by the family, they paid this tribute: "All of the family were present and travelled back from as far as America, to say goodbye.

"William slipped away peacefully, in no pain and with dignity.

"His brave battle against Guillain Barré Syndrome was difficult and at times very frustrating for him, but he battled hard and never stopped fighting.

"It is in no small way thanks to the efforts of the staff at West Suffolk and Addenbrooke's in Cambridge that he was able to battle so hard to attempt to beat the illness.

"However, despite wishing and hoping that he would come back to Haughley it was not to be.

"He will be missed immensely and we have all lost a great man, father and friend."

Ray Kiddell, vice-chairman of the Football Association, said: "There are so many people in football who are indebted to Bill for the support, help and encouragement he gave to them over so many years. The game was richer for his work at all levels."

Martin Head, Suffolk FA secretary, said: "Our deepest sympathy goes out to Bill's wife Annie, and his family and friends.

"In a life devoted to football he was a player, referee and a top class administrator.

"With his death Suffolk FA has lost a great and unique asset. He was a very clever and knowledgeable man but most of all he was a gentleman, who as clubs all around the County would testify, was always approachable, helpful and prepared to share this knowledge.

"He will be greatly missed."

The funeral will take place on Monday (JULY 9) at St Mary's Church, Haughley, commencing at 2pm, with the reception to be held immediately afterwards at Haughley Football Club.

Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks is one who is going to give an address.

Bill's family have requested family flowers only and that if so wished donations be made to 'Critical Care Services' at West Suffolk Hospital, c/o funeral directors Meredith Greengrass, 9 Marriotts Walk, Stowmarket, IP14 1AF.

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