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Dedicated Graham Russell is honoured by the FA
A STALWART of Worcestershire football has been honoured with a 50-year service award.
Graham Russell was presented with the longevity prize by the Football Association, as well as an award for 20 years’ service to the Worcester and District League.
Russell received the recognition at a Worcestershire FA ceremony to celebrate the achievements of those who dedicate themselves to the sport.
During his half-century of service, the 77-year-old former referee has worked in both the youth and adult game and remains vice-chairman and treasurer of the Worcester League.
Russell, of Lucerne Close, fell into football by accident in the 1950s while doing his national service in the RAF during which time he refereed his first match.
Although injury brought a premature end to his playing days, he continued to officiate and also became a scout covering youth football.
But it was his referee duties that began to take centre stage alongside his day job with family firm Russell Printers in New Street.
After qualifying as a class one official, he took charge of games at Southern League level and also refereed matches for the Football Association of Wales.
His work on the administration side largely began during the 1980s after Russell had hung up his boots.
He was appointed secretary of the Midland Counties Youth League which saw him organise events at RAF Cosford and Lilleshall Sports Centre.
He was also secretary and treasurer of the Worcestershire County Youth League and was a key organiser in Worcester Rugby Club’s five-a-side competition.
In 1992, he joined the Worcester League as fixture secretary before going on to hold the posts of treasurer and secretary.
Having completed 50 years, Russell, a self-confessed “FA man and not a club man”, feels a sense of duty to the sport to ensure there is a game for people to play.
“I have wanted to do it because there was a job to do,” he said. “It’s the league of my county and the motivation is there to keep it going.
“About five years ago it took a lot of work to keep Saturday football going, it was dying and it truly is at the present time, it’s going downhill quite fast. That motivates you and that’s why I took roles on.”
He did not always find being a referee easy but says the good experiences outweighed the bad.
Russell continued: “I have been struck by spectators but I would prefer to remember the enjoyable parts, which were far more.
“You get satisfaction out of a game. You know when you’ve had a bad game and when you’ve had a very good one. You get a lot of satisfaction out of that. That kept me going and I needed something to keep me fit.”
Current Worcester League secretary Tim Phillips added: “He’s probably one of the most dedicated administrators you could ever come across.
“He’s got his heart and soul in it and will always help whenever he can.”
Full list of Worcestershire FA honours The Football Association 50 years’ service to Football Award: Arthur Smith, Graham Russell; award for service on WFA Council (40 years): K Clifford; awards for service to refereeing in Worcestershire (30 years): A Stock, C Baker; 20 years: M Amphlett, D Herbert, M Jones, A Watts; 15 years: J Curtis, M Daniel, D Simons, G Walker; 10 years: H Campbell, L Croy, B Taylor, R Walker; awards for service as league/competition officers (20 years): Russell (Worcester & District); 10 years: A Gittins (Ambassador Evesham), D Hyde (Ambassador Evesham); awards for service as club secretary (10 years): M Loram (Badsey Rangers), M Peplow (Evesham United); awards for service to youth representative football: Ivor Chambers, Jamie Tombs.