SUFFOLK FA Honorary Life Vice President Gordon Rayner has passed away, aged 81.
Gordon, a former Chair of Suffolk FA, was a former referee who continued to sit on Suffolk FA Disciplinary Commissions up until his death.
He was awarded The FA Long Service medal to mark his 50 years’ service to the game in July 2014.
Gordon’s involvement in the grassroots game began in 1963 when he was involved in the early days of the Bury & District Saturday and Sunday Leagues. He was secretary of the latter for several years.
He served The Bury St Edmunds Referees’ Branch and was Secretary for a period and was also secretary of the Suffolk County Referees’ Association. He was elected to the Suffolk FA Council, representing the local leagues, in 1964.
Gordon is pictured above with The FA Long Service Award he received in 2014. Main photograph: Gordon presents the Suffolk Sunday Shield to James Buckle, captain of Ipswich Thistle, following their 3-2 victory over Raydon Ravens in the 2017-18 final at AFC Sudbury.
Gordon served as Suffolk FA Referees’ Appointments Secretary and several other roles. The pinnacle of his involvement came when he was made Chair of Suffolk FA and was very involved in 2000 when Suffolk FA became a limited company and moved into its own offices.
This was part of a unique double for him as he was also Chair of the Suffolk Cricket Umpires at the same time.
He was a Suffolk FA Council Member from 1982 onwards and was awarded Honorary Life membership.
Having retired from refereeing following an injury, Gordon took up assessing both at county and contributory levels.
Gordon, who lived at Hengrave, near Bury St Edmunds, was also a former Chair of the Suffolk FA Service Standards Panel.
After receiving his Long Service Award in 2014, Gordon said: “This is a great surprise. I have so many people to thank, particularly family, for the support they have given me in whatever role I was involved in.
“I am keeping busy currently on the Suffolk Cricket Umpires panel and still travel to many football matches locally often as The County FA representative and I am most fortunate to attend many Football League matches with Kelvin Morton as his guest when he carries out his role as referee assessor.
“It’s brilliant being involved in football at so many levels, it certainly keeps me in touch, and I have seen many good and a few disappointing seasons in the 50 years of my involvement and look forward to many more.”
Gordon is pictured with the Suffolk Boys’ Under-16 Cup that he donated to the County FA
Richard Neal, CEO of Suffolk FA, said: “We are all deeply saddened by the passing of Suffolk FA Honorary Life Vice President Mr Gordon Rayner.
“His roles within football have been numerous and varied, including continuing to serve on Discipline Panels up to and including this season.
“But he will most fondly be remembered by those who had the pleasure of knowing him simply as a terrific gentleman, full of humility, humour and an innate love of the game.
“Without fail, he would ask about you as a person, how you were and how your family was. In the short-ish time I knew him, he always seemed to be living life at a lovely pace; never too hurried that he couldn’t pay you full attention but never without something to do and go to, be that football or cricket or something else entirely.
“Put simply, Gordon was a man brimmed full of class, and the world is today a little bit poorer following his passing.”
Former Premier League and Football League referee Kelvin Morton, who was a long-standing friend, added: “The word legend is often used but in Gordon’s case totally deserved. He travelled with me to matches for around 30 years, taking in over 1,000 games.
“Gordon was always discreet and a trusted friend. Everything he did was to the best of his ability. The seat to my left in my car will seem very different in the future. I will miss him as we shared so many fond memories.”
Teams taking part in Saturday's McDonald's Suffolk Primary Cup Second-Round ties are requested to observe a minute's silence in memory of Gordon before kick-off.