CLIFTON St Vincent’s secretary Ray King has received a major Football Association Award in recognition of his 50-years loyal service to the Bristol Downs League club.
The presentation of a framed letter of thanks from the leader of the FA Council in London, an inscribed medal and lapel badge was made by Roy Schafer, the FA’s Gloucestershire representative.
This special award for long service to the game is the most prestigious that anyone associated to grass roots football can receive.
Ray was joined at the ceremony by his wife Margaret, son Andrew and daughter Sarah along with representatives from the Downs League and a large number of officials and players from St Vincent’s and other clubs.
He first played for St Vincent’s in 1963 as an enthusiastic 15-year-old striker and quickly progressed through the four senior sides to lead the First Team’s attack by the time he reached his late teens.
His earliest memories date back to the 1966-67 season when the club’s First Team, Reserves, A and B Teams clinched the championships of the Downs League’s four divisions, a remarkable achievement which saw every player receive a winners’ medal.
But his proudest individual moment as a player came the following year when he scored the winning goal to enable the Reserves to lift the Norman Hardy Cup.
Ray switched from the role of striker to become the First XI’s midfield play-maker and was an important member of the squad that was elected to the Gloucestershire County League in 1970.
He took over the role of Clifton St Vincent’s secretary in 1972 and today is regarded as one of the most respected administrators in Bristol amateur football.
He has been Clifton St Vincent’s representative at Downs League meetings since 1969, was elected the League’s assistant secretary in 2008 and a life member the same year.
Club president Roger Kirby in a glowing tribute said: “If anyone in our football club left they would be missed, but if Ray left you would never get anyone to do the work he has done over so many years.
“We also fully appreciate the amount of support he has received behind the scenes from his wife Margaret and family.”
Roy Schafer said: “This is a fantastic personal achievement and one that shows the level of commitment Ray has shown over the years to his club and football as a whole.
“This is a long service award, but had there been an award for being a good and efficient administrator, then Ray would qualify.
“If it were an award for someone who values fair play and sportsmanship, then Ray would qualify.
“If it were an award for being a really nice person, then Ray would qualify.
“I am therefore delighted to make this presentation to Ray in the knowledge that it is richly deserved and I hope he will accept it as a small token of our gratitude for all that he has done for football throughout many years.”
Ray was completely surprised when he entered the bar at Clifton St Vincent’s King’s Arms headquarters to see his family and a large number of friends attending the presentation.
He said: “When I looked around it was really pleasing to see so many people and I knew all of them.
“It was a lovely tribute and it was nice that so many turned up. It shows the camaraderie you can get from the game of football.”