Photo Gallery: Norfolk football celebrates with awards night at Carrow Road

Howard Webb raised a smile when presenting Des Jones-Blackett with his FA 50 Year award. The Drayton stalwart, who has never recieved a booking, was firstly shown a yellow and then red by the World Cup referee. Howard Webb raised a smile when presenting Des Jones-Blackett with his FA 50 Year award. The Drayton stalwart, who has never recieved a booking, was firstly shown a yellow and then red by the World Cup referee.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
12:02 PM

The great and the good of local football in Norfolk have been honoured for their services to the game.

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And, fittingly, it was World Cup final referee Howard Webb who performed the honours at Norfolk FA’s annual Gala Awards evening, held at the Top of the Terrace venue at Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground – which had a special place for the FA Cup, which was present for the event.

Webb conducted a Q&A and after dinner speech before making the presentations on a night when more than £1,000 was raised for charity, with proceeds going to the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and EACH. The FA Charter Standard League award went to the Norfolk Youth Football Combination, after becoming only the third league in Norfolk to achieve Charter Standard status.

Hillside Rovers were named FA Charter Standard Club of the Year. The club boasts an impeccable reputation, offering a balanced playing environment that incorporates competitiveness and the provision of opportunities for children of all abilities.

Club chairman Andy Syder said: “Hillside Rovers Football Club is very pleased to receive this award from Norfolk FA. We have no magic formula – we just try to do our best to follow the spirit expected of a Charter Standard club. The award’s a nice pat on the back and I’m sure will encourage the good work of our coaches, committee and other volunteers.

“With five year groups at Hillside Rovers, starting with our under sixes, every year we lose and have to regain a fifth of our volunteer team. The training and support we get from Norfolk FA helps to make this possible.”

This award follows Hillside Rovers winning Norfolk FA’s Respect award in 2011. Gorleston Rangers won the FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year – a reward for “their ongoing development work, which has seen the club relocate to a new home, allowing all of their teams to play their fixtures at the same venue”.

The FA Charter Standard League of the Year went to the Norfolk & Suffolk Youth League – awarded both a county and regional award winner in this category, highlighting the quality of the work they have been undertaking over the course of the last 12 months.

Young Volunteer of the Year was Thomas Leeder, who has worked in a voluntary capacity coaching with Reepham Town FC and at Reepham’s Primary and High Schools. An ambassador for the County FA’s ‘Football Futures’ programme, Thomas attended this year’s national camp in Hereford, where he undertook qualifications in refereeing and disability football. He has already attained the FA’s Level 1 and 2 Coaching Certificates, as well as the Youth Modules 1 and 2.

Volunteer of the Year was Shaun Platten, rewarded for more than 20 years of service to the Norfolk and Suffolk Youth League, of which he is chairman.

Coach of the Year honours went to Jordan Gooch who, since undertaking work with New Buckenham Junior FC at the age of 15, has built a team that finished third in the league last season, whilst implementing an ethos that promotes overall development of the player rather than results. The inspiration Jordan provides for his young players is not seen just on the training pitch, though – Jordan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma two years ago, undergoing intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Despite this he continued to coach throughout and has been in remission for the last year.

Graham Gibbins won the Outstanding Contribution award, described as “a man with a real heart for community”, whose “contribution on a number of fronts has made a significant difference for many years”. Over the last decade at Gorleston Rangers, Graham has served as chairman and also as a coach. His involvement in the game stretches to the Norfolk & Suffolk Youth League, for which he has served as treasurer, fixture secretary and vice-chairman in recent times.

The Groundsman of the Year award was won, again, by Thetford Rovers’ Mark Zipfel and Simon Juby.

“Their work as volunteers is consistently high and this is reflected in the fact that they were securing a hat-trick of successive winner’s awards in this category,” said the FA. “Their pitch received a ‘highly commended’ accolade from the national judging panel earlier this year and they will be treated to a ‘winner’s day’ experience by the FA in October, in recognition of this achievement.”

Runner-up was Kevin Sage from Hellesdon FC with Hempnall FC’s Ray Youngman in third.

There were also long service awards presented to Ron Adams and Des Jones-Blackett.

Adams received a 25-year award from Norfolk FA and a 50-year award from the national FA. He first started as a player out in the west of the county, before taking up the whistle as a Norfolk FA match official.

When his 28-year refereeing career started to draw to a close, Ron looked to the next challenge, which was as a Referee Appointments Secretary for Sunday fixtures in the King’s Lynn area. Ron fulfilled this role admirably for 33 years.

Jones-Blackett received an FA 50 Year award – and a surprise decision from referee Webb who, having heard he was facing a man who was never booked or sent off in his career promptly produced a yellow and then a red card from his pocket, much to everyone’s delight.

Still registered as a player with Drayton FC after more than half a century he has also served as secretary, chairman and president during his illustrious 51 years of service to the club he loves.

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