Ilford volunteer given FA award after 50 years of service
PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:44 23 April 2018
A volunteer from Ilford who has refereed at Wembley, met West Ham heroes including Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst and saw England captains like John Terry come through the ranks has been given an award from the FA for 50 years of service.
A volunteer who has refereed at Wembley, met West Ham heroes including Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst, and saw England captains like John Terry come through the ranks, has been given an award from the FA for 50 years of service.
Lawrence Segal, 70, was given the FA’s Order of Merit award after decades of selfless work establishing himself as a well-known volunteer across all levels of football in Essex.
To be eligible for the award the nominated individual must have completed 50 years as a football volunteer, inclusive of their playing career but excluding any football played at school.
Lawrence, who lives in Ilford, 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 (which his team were in) was in need of a referee appointments officer. He applied and filled the position.
This meant he went through full training and became a fully qualified referee.
The life-long West Ham fan then spent more than 20 years refereeing across London and held a number of other posts, including becoming the league secretary in 1974.
He said that some of his fondest memories from his refereeing days included being the linesman in the last Metropolitan London league final before it merged with the Spartan League.
However the highlight of his career came in 1991 – in what would turn out to be his final game on the pitch – when he was the fourth official in the England vs West Germany schoolboys international under the famous arches at the old Wembley. It was the last time the team played as West Germany before the country unified.
He said that West Germany ran out 3-1 winners, and that he looked back at the team sheets from the game recently and none of the players went on to make it at full international level.
In 1978, Lawrence started to volunteer for the Essex County FA and went on to be a director of the league, along with other roles including area referee assessing secretary, FA licensed referee instructor, elected council member representing youth football, disciplinary chairman and board director.
It was during this time that he met some of his idols, and 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.
This is where he saw Premier League players like John Terry, Jermain Defoe and Jonjo Shelvey progress through the ranks to the highest level.
Lawrence was chairman of the league for 15 years and said that this was one of his most rewarding positions throughout his time.
Reflecting on 50 years of service he said: “It seemed like the dream to me, to combine two things that I loved, football and business and I’ve loved it.
“It is incredibly rewarding watching children at seven and eight go on to play football till they were 18 and 19 years old and then some if they were lucky to go on to senior football.
“The biggest change for me when I went from being a player to a referee was that I had to learn all the rules.
“At that level you just go and kick a ball around, but then as a referee I had to know the ins and outs of every single rule.”
Lawrence had to retire from his role at the Essex County FA last year through age, but is still heavily involved in local football as he is the Essex Senior League chartered standard officer and Essex County Girls League u15 fixture co-ordinator.