BARRY Spall has become the first person from Leiston FC to receive The FA 50-Year Service Award.
The 78-year-old, who was born in Leiston, was presented with the award on Saturday by Suffolk FA Chief Executive Richard Neal.
The award was made following the first team’s 2-1 victory over Stourbridge in the Pitching-in Southern League Premier Central.
Barry, who now lives in Felixstowe, was making his first visit to the club for more than 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “I am the first person from Leiston Football Club to receive the award and the club did me proud.
“Members of my family were there to see me receive the award and the clubhouse was packed after the game, with members of the first team and officials there.”
Barry, who was born in 1943, has been associated with Leiston FC all his life.
He first played football for Leiston Football Club in 1959, and by the end of the season he was playing right back for the first team. He finally stopped playing for the club at the end of the 1986-87 season, after being club captain during that time, finishing back in the reserves where he first started.
During this time he was also captain of Leiston Cricket Club and was fully involved with Leiston Works Athletic Association. In 1974 he was Chairman of the Football Club, the Cricket Club and LWAA.
Barry first became a member of the Club Committee in 1969-70, and continues in that role still, now as a Vice President and active Committee member.
In 1982 he was involved with the visit of Sir Stanley Rous to the club, along with Mr HR Bird of Suffolk FA. In 1984 he had helped raise £10,000 to build a new clubhouse and had the honour of laying the first brick of that new building.
Barry Spall (centre) is pictured with The FA 50-Year Service Award alongside Leiston FC Chair Andy Crisp (left) and Suffolk FA Chief Executive Richard Neal (right) at the presentation. Main photograph: Barry Spall pictured during the presentation in the clubhouse. Photographs: Ben Cunningham
In 1985 he stepped down as Chairman of the Football Club but remained on the committee. He was appointed a Vice President of the Club in 2004.
In 1970 he joined Suffolk FA as a Council member representing Leiston Football Club and received a silver platter for 30 years’ service in the year 2000.
During that time he was a member of the Youth and Disciplinary Committees, and became a Director of the Association in 2000.
In 2012 he was appointed a Life Member of the County FA, a position he continues to hold, and still regularly attends and contributes to the meetings of the Council.
Richard Neal said: “Barry fully deserves this recognition of the years of expertise, enthusiasm and time he has given to Leiston FC and Suffolk FA in particular, but also Suffolk football in general. Having known him for four years now, his passion for local football still burns as brightly as it ever has.
“It was a personal honour for me, alongside Andy, to present Barry with his award on Saturday, surrounded by members of both his personal and football families after some recent tragic personal circumstances. Barry, she will be as proud as a peacock.”
Leiston FC Chair Andy Crisp said: “Barry’s Service Award was well received at Victory Road Leiston last weekend, his commitment to sport in East Suffolk for over 50 years has made him a worthy recipient of this prestigious award.
“Barry’s love is football and cricket. I was very fortunate to work with him when I first got involved at Leiston FC some 23 years ago and certainly learnt a lot from him.
“The word commitment is sometimes used loosely but not in this case. Barry has served Leiston FC and the Suffolk FA in many roles and always gave 100% to the cause.
“Well done and huge congratulations from all at Leiston FC.”
If you know someone who has given 50 years to the game, which can include as a player but not for school teams, please nominate them for an award via the button below.