SUFFOLK & Ipswich League Chairman Keith Norton said it was ‘total surprise’ to receive The FA 50-Year Service award.
The 72-year-old was presented with his award by Suffolk FA Chief Executive Richard Neal at the AGM of the SIL at Gresham’s in Ipswich on Thursday.
Keith (above left) said: “It was a total surprise, but it is nice to be recognised and an honour to receive the award.”
He said his most memorable achievements in football were: “Obviously receiving this award, being awarded my Suffolk County FA cap and with Nicholians being the first IDL/SIL side to win the Suffolk Senior Cup and Premier Division as a player-manager.
“All this would not have been possible without an understanding and loyal wife and family.”
Keith, who was born in Ipswich and attended Tower Ramparts School, has been continuously involved in football in Suffolk for almost 55 years.
He was at the Royal Naval School in Malta and played for the Maltese football team, before returning to Suffolk In September 1963, and playing regularly for the Ipswich Lads Club.
In season 1966-67, he then signed to play for Achilles, and the following season joined Harwich & Parkeston, playing in the old Athenian Football League.
In 1970 he played for Ipswich & District League (now Suffolk & Ipswich League) side Nicholians, where he played until 1976, before switching to Sudbury Town in 1977-78.
Keith, who was a goalkeeper, returned to Nicholians in 1979 as player-manager, where he guided the club to the SIL Senior Division title and the Suffolk Senior Cup, the first club in the SIL to achieve this outstanding feat.
He returned to Achilles in 1983-84 as manager, a post he remained in until 2004.
Keith, who worked as a Tug Master Driver at Felixstowe Docks, was elected as Vice-Chairman of the SIL in 2004, serving for four years until he was elected as Chairman in 2008, a post he still holds with great dignity and service to that league.
During his active time as a player and manager, Keith was involved with clubs that won the Eastern Counties League once, Suffolk Premier Cup once, Suffolk Senior Cup once and Suffolk & Ipswich League seven times.