Roy Chapman, a real character in Norwich football and cycle speedway, dies aged 80

Roy Chapman, who came on as a sub for AFC Norwich

Roy Chapman, when he came on as a sub for AFC Norwich aged 69 - Credit: Archant © 2009

A “genuine and kind” cycle speedway and football fanatic from Norwich has died from Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia aged 80.  

Roy Chapman, of Sprowston, has been described as “a character” within the cycle speedway world and Sunday league football. He was also the caretaker of Spixworth for nearly 10 years before ill health.  

His daughter Karen Cram, 48, of Attlebridge, near Norwich, said: “He was kind, so kind, and had a wonderful sense of humour. He was one of life's genuine people.”  

Mr Chapman was born in 1940 in Spixworth, where he spent most of his life. He attended the local first and middle school, places he is said to have “enjoyed”. 

Mrs Cram added: “He always spoke fondly of his childhood.”  

He married wife Jean at Spixworth Church in 1964, and the couple moved to Sprowston in 1971, where, in the same house, he remained. 

In 2004, he took on the role of Spixworth caretaker after Jean passed away. he spent most of his time there attending to various jobs, before stepping down in 2013. 

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Mr Chapman also hit the headlines at the age of 69 when he became a football team’s secret weapon - despite having had a triple heart bypass 10 years previously following a heart attack. 

During an AFC Norwich match in 2009, Mr Chapman, who had been used to running the line, found himself at the centre of the action with a half-hour cameo appearance. He helped his side turned their fortunes around to earn a point against Evening News Norwich Sunday League Division 2a high-flyers Farmhouse. They were losing 2- 1 against the top of-the-table team, but scored a last-minute equaliser.   

Despite being half a century older than many of the players, he made a valid contribution.  

Roy Chapman, who came on as a sub for AFC Norwich

Roy Chapman, when he came on as a sub for AFC Norwich aged 69 - Credit: Archant © 2009

During his lifetime, Mr Chapman won the Norwich Sunday League secretary of the year award in 1976, the Wilkinson Sword Award of Merit, and remained a pillar of the grassroots football scene for over 30 years.   

A number of cycle speedway organisations have paid tribute to him.  

Mel Perkins, on behalf of the Hethersett Hawks, said: “We were saddened to hear of the death of Roy Chapman.   

“Roy was a stalwart of the Spixworth Club for over 40 years. Taking over as secretary from Mike Colman, he steered the club through its move to Crostwick Lane and to become one of the leading clubs in East Anglia and, at times, even on the national stage. 

“For many years Roy soldiered on without much help once the older riders had retired or moved on. He could often be seen working on the track alone and, at matches, he had been known to referee, starter, flag marshal and announcer all at the same time. 

“Roy always gave a warm welcome and was proud of his Spixworth track. His dedication also spread into football where he managed sides at a high level locally and continued playing in goal well into his forties.”  

John Elwin, a former Spixworth member in the 1970s, added: “One of the finest people you would not only meet in cycle speedway but in life, along with his dear wife Jean who preceded him. I am sure the Chapman family will have grown up into wonderful people for the grounding and upbringing they received.”  

Norwich Stars also paid tribute to him.  

Mr Chapman died on January 3 and leaves behind his children and three grandchildren.   

Due to current restrictions, there will a private family funeral service on Friday, January 29, at St Faith's Crematorium. To watch a live stream or to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society in Mr Chapman's memory contact John Brown Funeral Services, on North Walsham Road, Sprowston, by ringing 01603 419397.