FA 50 Year presentations Oct 2023

Tony and Alan both honoured by The FA

TWO stalwarts of Suffolk football received The FA 50-Year Service Award on Saturday.

TWO stalwarts of Suffolk football received The FA 50-Year Service Award on Saturday.

Tony Lyes was presented with his award by Suffolk FA Treasurer Nigel Johnson before Lakenheath faced Walsham-le-Willows in the Isuzu FA Vase.

Alan Sparkes received his award from Suffolk FA Chief Executive Officer Richard Neal ahead of Haughley United’s Macron SIL Senior Division fixture at home to Leiston St Margarets.



Tony ‘Wag’ Lyes said he was ‘absolutely shocked’ to receive The FA 50-Year Service Award at The Nest on Saturday.

“I didn’t know that I had even been nominated and so didn’t realise what was happening until I went on to the pitch.

“I am highly honoured that somebody thought enough of me to put my name forward,” said Tony.

The 72-year-old, who lives in Burwell, first began playing football for Tuddenham in 1966.

He left in 1969 to play for Icklingham for one season before making his way to Barton Mills and playing in the Bury & District Football League from 1970 to 1972.

Tony then left to help set up and form part of the committee at Tuddenham around 1974 where he helped the club purchase their facilities that they still use to this day. 

He stayed there until the early 1980s before heading over to Thetford Town and Ely City, helping them both to a runners-up spot in the Eastern Counties League in the 1990s. 

Tony Lyes 50 Year presentation Oct 2023

Tony Lyes is pictured with The FA 50-Year Award alongside Suffolk FA Treasurer Nigel Johnson, who made the presentation, and the Lakenheath first-team squad.

Tony, who previously worked as a painter and decorator and has spent more than 30 years working in the private car hire business, then had stints at Newmarket Town and Mildenhall Town, also in the Eastern Counties League.

Following brief stints back at Tuddenham Rovers over the years, Tony finally ended up with Lakenheath Football Club in 2013, becoming the club’s Director of Football. 

Tony has been one of the club’s major reasons for progression from Cambridgeshire County Premier League (Step 7) to where the club now sit firmly in the Eastern Counties Premier Division, winning several trophies along the way.

Tony, who was born in Gazeley and moved to Tuddenham aged three, said winning the Junior Cup three years in a row (1997-98, 1998-99 & 1999-00) with Tuddenham Rovers had been the highlight of his involvement in local football.



Alan Sparkes said he had met some wonderful people during his time involved in local football.

“There are a lots of stories and great memories, but I have also met some wonderful people who I have great admiration for, some of whom are still involved,” he said.

Alan, who was born in Ipswich, started playing adult football in 1963 at 14 years of age for Rattlesden in the Bury & District League on Saturdays. 

He was in a group of teenage players that started Stowmarket Athletic on a Sunday. It was a successful club and as well as playing he served on their committee.

In 1969 while in his twenties Alan played for Bacton United and then in 1970 for Stowmarket Town where he unfortunately broke his leg at Marconi Sports ground in Chelmsford whilst playing for Stowmarket Town Reserves. This forced Alan to stop playing as it was a bad break with complications.

His good friend Peter Mead invited him to join Haughley United in 1975 and there started a long career in adult football administration when he was asked to be Club Secretary, a role he held for nearly 20 years.

In 1989 he also became a member of the Suffolk FA Council as the West Suffolk representative, a position he also held for more than 20 years.

Alan’s son became involved in Youth football at Stowupland Falcons and he was asked and accepted a coaching role with his team on Sundays. 

Once he finished seven years later, Alan took on another youth team at Falcons as Manager and another seven years later when he thought his time with youth football had finished he was asked to be an academy scout with Ipswich Town which he undertook for nine years. It was a great experience for Alan to be involved with a professional club.

In 1990 on Saturdays Alan moved to Needham Market to become their Secretary and Reserve Team Manager before taking on the role of Chairman when their move to the new ground at Bloomfields in Needham Market took place.

A few years later Alan, who lives in Stowmarket, returned to Haughley United as Club Chairman and stayed in that position until his 70th birthday in 2019.

The past four years have seen Alan take on the Fixture Secretary’s role for the Macron Suffolk & Ipswich Football League, a position he still holds with great distinction.

Alan Sparkes 50-Year presentation Oct 2023

Alan Sparkes (right) receives The FA 50-Year Award from Suffolk FA Chief Executive Officer Richard Neal (left) as Haughley United players and the match officials look on.

Alan, who worked in electrical engineering, said: “It was a lovely coincidence that Saturday marked Haughley United’s 128th birthday after the club was formed in 1895!”

His son Paul travelled down from Yorkshire and he was also joined by wife Beverley, daughter Alison, stepdaughter Katy and four of his 15 grandchildren.

Alan said two moments stood out from his time in local football – one was meeting Sir Standley Rous and Bobby Robson at the Suffolk FA Centenary Dinner at Copdock in 1985 and the other was Haughley United defeating Lowestoft Town 1-0 at Crown Meadow in an East Anglian Cup tie in the 1980s.

His biggest disappointment came as Chairman of Needham Market in 2008 when they lost to Kirkham & Wesham in the two-legged semi-final of the FA Vase. (Kirkham & Wesham, now known as AFC Fylde, went on to defeat Lowestoft Town 2-1 in the final at Wembley Stadium).

Suffolk FA CEO Richard Neal said: “Both Tony and Alan embody a spirit prevalent within grassroots football; selflessly ensuring others can play, coach and spectate the game by undertaking vital and largely unseen roles.

“To be able to present these gentlemen of the game with FA 50-Year Service Awards, recognising their incredible contribution to the local game for so long, is a real privilege for Suffolk FA.”

If you know of a person who has undertaken 50 years of service within football, please nominate them for an FA 50-Year Service Award via the Suffolk FA website


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