Tribute to Morpeth FC stalwart

FORMER Morpeth Town Chairman, Bill Holian, has been honoured for 17 years of dedicated service at Craik Park.

Bill got involved with running the club after 30 years as a football referee, and Town's current Chairman Ken Beattie felt it was high time his tireless efforts were recognised.

Ken presented the 78-year-old with a commemorative tankard last week, to show the club's appreciation for everything Bill helped them achieve.

He first joined the Morpeth committee after a short spell managing an Area NCB Workshops side from Ashington.

Working alongside the likes of Ralphy Craik and Jimmy Kidd, Bill enjoyed a number of roles during his time with the club. He went on to become Treasurer and Secretary before finally taking over as Chairman.

"I really enjoyed my time at Morpeth Town," confessed Bill, who lives at Lancaster Park. "While I was their I took them from the Northern Alliance into the Northern League, so it was a very important move for the club.

"Right now I'm just enjoying my retirement but still get down to Craik Park when I can, and I'm always getting roped into doing something for the club."

Bill, who originally hails from Derbyshire, first came to Morpeth in 1977, only six years after hanging up his ref's whistle.

During his time as a match official Bill rose from the world of non-league football to the high profile games of the First Division by 1963.

He said: "It took me 12 years to get to the top of the football league and the pinnacle came in 1966 when the World Cup came to England.

"I didn't actually get to referee any of the matches but was among the pool of officials placed on stand-by for the tournament."

Travelling around the top football venues in England has left Bill with many happy memories of famous games and players.

"One of the worst games I ever took charge of was a Division Three match between Brighton and Walsall," explained Bill. "I blew my whistle for a foul just as a Walsall centre forward had hammered the ball into the back of the net and I can remember someone saying I better not go near their dressing room after the game.

"I remember on another occasion the famous Everton player Tony Kay accidentally volleyed the ball off my head and I had to be replaced by the linesman."

Bill reckons that during his time in the top flight Billy Bremner of Leeds United was one of the toughest players he saw, while Stan Matthews was the epitome of a football gentleman.

He added: "I also thought Nat Lofthouse of Bolton Wanderers was a very clever player, but I never got the chance to have a look at Ron 'Chopper' Harris at Chelsea as I never had the pleasure of taking charge of a game at Stamford Bridge."