Local referee Albert Eadon has been honoured by the Queen for his 40 years of service to refereeing and football.
Eadon, who turns 82 in November, was recognised for having refereed 40 seasons of football and attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace, along with his wife.
Eadon reflected: “It was a great day out at Buckingham Palace for me and my wife. We saw the Queen but there were about 3,000 people invited so we didn’t get to meet her.
“Refereeing keeps me going. It keeps me fit and I still enjoy the banter that you get off some of the players.’’
Eadon has been officiating locally since 1990. He added: “This is my 41st year of refereeing. I started off in Sheffield and did twenty years in South Yorkshire before I moved over to this area.
“I still like refereeing, I have got two fixtures this weekend and I am looking forward to those. Sometimes when I get out of bed on a Sunday morning and it is freezing cold and raining I do wonder what I am doing but I still plan to keep going for the time being.’’
Eadon was quick to highlight the contrast between the standards of both refereeing and of players attitudes towards referees.
“As far as being a referee goes, things have definitely got worse over the years.
“There is supposed to be a ‘Respect Campaign’ at the moment but a lot of the players these days don’t know the meaning of the word respect. There is no respect for referees, none at all.’’
“I don’t think it helps that the standard of refereeing is not as high as it used to be. Too many referees have never actually played the game and how can you understand how to referee if you have never played football?
“When I started refereeing you had to take a two-week course and then spend two weeks as a linesman and that helped you to learn what you were doing. Nowadays I think it only takes a week to qualify as a referee.’’