Sterling efforts recognised at Shropshire FA awards
The excellent efforts of volunteers across the county were celebrated and recognised at the Shropshire FA Community Awards.
Held at the Lord Hill Hotel in Shrewsbury, 12 gongs were given out to coaches, clubs and referees.
Former England, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa star Steve Hodge was the guest of honour and presented each award.
The first of the night, for Outstanding Contribution to Sunday Football, went to Vince Lunn – who founded Celtic Spartans in 1989 and remains their club secretary.
They have been in the Telford Sunday League since 1994, and Lunn is in his 38th year as a grassroots volunteer.
John Edge, club secretary at Ellesmere Rangers, was the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Adult Football prize.
He has been in the role for more than 30 years, previously serving as manager, and has also served as vice chairman of the Shropshire County League.
Shropshire FA chairman Dave Simpson said: “I started out with Vince in 1980. You see these large football clubs, Shrewsbury Juniors being one, but that guy is a one-man outfit – and still wears his football boots now.
“He supports clubs financially and is an unbelievable man, but nobody knew about him.
“It’s the same for John Edge, an absolute stalwart. Without them, these clubs would not run – they would fall apart.”
Dawley FC were named Sunday Football Club of the Year after completing a treble – winning the Telford Sunday League, the league’s Challenge Cup and the TJ Vickers Sunday Senior Cup.
Grange Park Primary School got Best Inclusive Project of the Year after setting up two new girls football leagues for year three/four and year five/ six pupils. All schools in Telford and Wrekin can enter those leagues next season.
Stuart Lewis, from Randlay Colts, received the Coach of the Year gong, while NC United – which has grown rapidly since its formation in May 2015 – received the coveted FA Charter Standard Club of the Year award.
Prees Juniors – who are a sister club to Manchester City Ladies and have City and England midfielder Jill Scott hold her soccer schools at their base – got two awards.
They shared FA Community Club of the Year with Shrewsbury Juniors, and also won Respect Club of the Year.
FA Charter Standard League of the Year went to the Shropshire Junior League, and FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year to Shrewsbury Up and Comers.
Daniel Thomas was rewarded for his stellar work over the past two seasons at Wem Town, receiving Young Volunteer of the Year. And perhaps the loudest cheer of the night was for Regan Gough, who won the Referee of the Year gong.
Gough regularly referees in the Shropshire Junior League, Shropshire Girls and Womens League, Central Warwickshire Girls League and Shropshire Schools Association – and has also served as an assistant referee in the Shropshire County League.
After the awards were given out, Hodge ran through his storied career – what it was like playing under the late Brian Clough at Forest, and his involvement in Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ at the 1986 World Cup.
Simpson also shared his experience of being out in India last year as an FA representative when England Under-17s won the World Cup.
He added: “The people we have recognised are at the elite end of volunteers – the cream of the crop. What we have to understand, though, is there are people as good in the county, there seven days a week.
“We’re going to expand the presentation next year. We’re going to be looking at more volunteers in Sunday football.”
Outstanding Contribution to Sunday Football: Vince Lunn
Sunday Football Club of the Year: Dawley FC
Best Inclusive Project of the Year: Grange Park Primary School
Coach of the Year: Stuart Lewis
FA Charter Standard Club of the Year: NC United
FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year: Shrewsbury Up & Comers
FA Charter Standard Community Club of the Year: Press Juniors and Shrewsbury Juniors
FA Charter Standard League of the Year: Shropshire Junior League
Respect Club of the Year: Prees Juniors
Young Volunteer of the Year: Daniel Thomas
Referee of the Year: Regan Gough
Outstanding Contribution to Adult Football: John Edge