Evergreen Richard all set for life at the top

Milton LindsayRichard King is preparing to open a proud chapter in his lengthy footballing life when he takes the helm of Norfolk County FA. Richard, who will become the organisation's chairman in April, says he is looking forward to the challenge.Milton Lindsay

Richard King is preparing to open a proud chapter in his lengthy footballing life when he takes the helm of Norfolk County FA.

Richard, who will become the organisation's chairman in April, says he is looking forward to the challenge.

'I am very excited at the prospect of three years in the position. It's probably the biggest honour anyone can achieve in county football - to become chairman of the association,' he said.

For the past 15 years, Richard has been a key administrator at County FA headquarters, firstly in Middleton's Lane, then Plantation Park and finally at the current venue at Meridian Way, Thorpe. His special responsibilities have included disciplinary matters as well running the organisation's flagship cup competitions.

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He left the 'day job' on New Year's Eve but is now looking forward to taking over from Ian Bishop, having served as his deputy for the past three years.

'I miss the camaraderie at County HQ and it has been strange not going there every day but you move on,' he said.

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His role will include chairing the monthly FA council meetings, helping to implement national strategy and offering advice and support to chief executive Shaun Turner as well as being a leading ambassador for Norfolk's thriving football scene. He believes his 'inside knowledge' of the day-to-day running of the County FA should stand him in good stead.

He hopes to become a familiar face in all parts of Norfolk, at all levels and all formats of the game.

Although already well known to many as a former player, referee and now a referees' assessor and instructor, many people will only know him as a voice on the end of a telephone - and he says it will be nice for all parties to be able to put a face to a voice. 'I want to get out and meet and greet as many people as I can,' he said. 'I'm not attached to any particular club, and I have a free rein.'

Becoming county chairman will add another string to the bow of Richard, who admits to a lifelong love affair with football.

'I am crazy about the game. I love the camaraderie, the friends you make and the people you meet. I really look forward to it. All my Saturdays and Sundays are football orientated. I can't wait for the season to start each year.'

A married father of two, with two grandchildren, Richard, 66, is grateful for the backing of his wife of 35 years Paula - his No 1 supporter.

'She has never moaned or groaned about anything,' said, Sheringham- born Richard.

He has lived in the Norwich area for nearly all his life, and before becoming a full time administrator with the County FA, spent 20 years as a prison officer at Norwich jail - at a time when the inmates included 'Mad' Frankie Fraser of Richardsons' torture gang notoriety.

As a player Richard was a goalkeeper turning out for a number of teams including the early Quebec Rovers Sunday side. He says one of the highlights was when the Rangers team 'did the quad' of honours in the now defunct Norwich Thursday League in the late 1960s.

As a referee he operated in leagues including the Eastern Counties League, Anglian Combination and Norwich Sunday League and took charge of five county cup finals, including two at Carrow Road.

His most memorable moment during 20 years as a man in black came in January 1987 when as the fourth official for Norwich City's game against Charlton Athletic at Carrow Road - he suddenly found himself pressed into action when referee David Axcell was unable to continue after an accidental collision with a Charlton player celebrating a goal. Linesman 'Tiny' Healy, from Colchester, took the whistle and Richard stepped out of the crowd to run the line - in front of 16000 people.

'I remember I got paid �20 by the Football League - I got �1 a minute. The game ended in a 1-1 draw,' he recalled.

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