Football leagues pay tribute following death of Ilford 'legend' Lawrence Segal
PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 June 2019
Tributes have been paid to a football 'legend' from Ilford who has died at the age of 72.
Lawrence Segal, chairman of Echo Junior Football League for 15 years, was given the FA's Order of Merit award last year, recognising his 50 years of work as a volunteer across all levels of football in London and Essex.
He refereed at Wembley, met West Ham heroes including Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst, and saw England captains like John Terry come through the ranks.
Echo Junior Football League announced Lawrence's death on Saturday (June 1), describing him as a 'legend' for the work he did for grass roots football.
In a statement, Echo League said: "It is with extreme regret that on Friday morning (May 31) we were notified of the sad passing of former Echo Junior Football League chairman, secretary, treasurer and referee appointment officer, Lawrence Segal.
"When people talk about legends it is sometimes misinterpreted but we can proudly say what Lawrence has done for grassroots football over 50 years service puts him in the category. He will be sadly missed within youth football and on behalf of everyone associated with our league we pass on our deepest sympathy to his family."
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Essex Alliance Football League said Lawrence will be "sorely missed in Essex" and Colebrook Royals Football Club said "he was a loyal supporter of Colebrook from the start of our long journey in youth football".
Lawrence, a life-long West Ham fan, began his career in the Ilford football leagues back in 1963 as a player for OK Jewish Youth Club FC, before he became secretary for the club in 1966.
In 1971 he started playing for Moorscott FC and found out that the London Accountants' League was in need of a referee appointments officer. He went through full training and became a fully qualified referee, spending more than 20 years refereeing across London and held a number of other posts, including becoming the league secretary in 1974.
In 1978, he started to volunteer for the Essex County FA and went on to be a director of the league.
It was during this time that he met famous West Ham faces including 1966 World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore, World Cup final hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst and other club legends including Ray Stewart and Trevor Brooking.
After hanging up his whistle and cards in 1992 he became involved with youth football as secretary for Westhamians FC, and this led to his dedicated commitment to the Echo Junior League - one of the biggest local youth leagues. He was chairman of the league for 15 years.
Speaking to the Recorder about the FA's Order of Merit award last year, he said: "It seemed like the dream to me, to combine two things that I loved, football and business and I've loved it."