KEITH Howlett said the enjoyment of refereeing on a Saturday afternoon was behind his receiving The FA 50-Year Service Award.
The Lowestoft-based official was presented with his award by Suffolk FA Chairman Phil Lawler at the Suffolk FA Awards Ceremony sponsored by McDonald’s and Ransomes Jacobsen.
After receiving his medal, tie pin and a letter to mark his achievement at Portman Road on Wednesday, the 67-year-old (above left) was asked what it was that had kept him going over the last half-a-century.
He said: “Through refereeing I have met a lot of really nice people, including some Football League referees, and been reserve official at both Norwich and Ipswich, but throughout my career I have thoroughly enjoy refereeing on a Saturday afternoon.”
Keith, who has been actively involved continuously in football in Norfolk and Suffolk for almost 52 years, first played football at the start of season 1967-68 at the age of 15 for Bradwell Juniors.
Born in Norfolk, Keith started refereeing in October 1969 at the age of 17 on the Great Yarmouth Sunday League and then on the Great Yarmouth and District and Anglian Combination once he had gained his Class 2.
Along with other youngsters in the Great Yarmouth area, Keith had been encouraged by local referee Norman Burtenshaw, who had refereed the FA Cup Final, to take the referees’ course.
In 1977 he was promoted to Class 1 and then refereed on the Anglian Combination Premier Division and was a linesman on the Eastern Counties League.
He has refereed the Great Yarmouth League’s Wiltshire Cup Final and the Norfolk FA Sunday Intermediate Cup Final. In 1986 he moved to Suffolk to live in Lowestoft and refereed on the Lowestoft & District Football League and Suffolk & Ipswich League and was an assistant referee on the Eastern Counties League Cup Final.
In 1992 he refereed the Suffolk Senior Cup Final between Stonham Aspal and Woodbridge Town and has been fourth official at various games at Norwich and Ipswich.
He has served as a committee member on the Lowestoft Referees Association since 1990, apart from a recent short break, re-joining the committee last year.