NINE league officials who have clocked up a staggering 220 years’ of service between them have been honoured at a dinner.
The Ipswich & Suffolk Youth League officials, both past and present, were recognised at a dinner held at Woodbridge Town FC.
Sadly, Bryan Smith, the long-serving league registration secretary and vice-chairman, passed away in 2016, but tribute to his service was given.
The ISYFL was founded in 1957 as the Ipswich Boys Combination, and one of the three founder members – David Routh – is still active with the league today.
The name changed to the Ipswich & District Sunday Youth Football League in 1977, and again to its current name of Ipswich & Suffolk Youth Football League in 2000 when it merged with the Suffolk & Essex Youth League.
During its 60 years, it has spawned the three other Youths leagues which today have a big presence in the county – The Suffolk League formed as the Felixstowe Youth Combination by some of the ISYFL teams in the 1980s who wanted to play on Saturdays, as Saturday schools football declined; The Norfolk & Suffolk Youth League, formed when the number of ISYFL teams from the north of the county grew and joined with Norfolk Youth teams to set up a new League; and the Suffolk Girls League formed by a division of girls’ teams in the ISYFL which were required to leave and set up on their own, as they wanted to play formats of the game not then recognised by the FA.
The League recognised, with a small memento, the work of David Routh, Cathy Howard, Bryan Smith and Terry Scott from Ipswich, Arthur Winchester, Sandra Gooding and Peter Friston from Stowmarket, Keith Barnett from Felixstowe and Wendy Steele from Sudbury, who together have clocked up a total of 220 years of service to Youth football in the county, not including the service of Wendy and Cathy to the Suffolk & Essex Youth League.
Allan Girot, the current league secretary and representative of the league on the Suffolk FA Council, paid his own tribute to this group, and in particular to the fact that for a period of 33 years, David, Arthur and Bryan, who was remembered with a few moments’ silence, had served together.
Allan said: “This length of combined service is unlikely to be equalled, and I am proud that this has contributed to the enjoyment of thousands of young people from the game of football, and to the careers that a few have made in the game.”
Founder David Routh is pictured above with a carriage clock to mark his 61st season’s involvement with the league.