Refereeing duo’s stunning century

Two stalwarts of the local football scene have been honoured for a century of service.

Donny Nichols and Ronnie Thompson, who attended the same basic referees training course back in 1960, each received a 50 Year Membership Award at the Norwich Referees Association Society annual dinner. They received the awards from National RA chairman Alan Poulain, who expressed his admiration for their dedication to their local society.

Those feelings were echoed by Norfolk County FA chairman Richard King, who said: 'It's nice to know that their interest is still there after 50 years. A lot of referees bow out and you don't hear anything of them again.

'Alan said there were very few people who have achieved 50 years service in the Referees Association anywhere in the country.'

Both men are Norwich-based. Donny, 75, who refereed at Football Combination and ECL level, is now an assessor, while Ronnie was also a familiar figure on the ECL and grassroots scene.

'Ronnie is a quiet individual who never wants publicity,' said Richard.

Donny also received the inaugural Michael Blackburn Award for Meritorious Service to Norwich RA. This award has been introduced as a lasting tribute to the late Michael Blackburn, who served the society in many roles for many year years. Donny has served the society as president, chairman, vice-chairman, committee member and society representative on the county committee. The award was presented by Mrs Jill Blackburn.

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The evening was rounded off by an excellent presentation from Peter Walton, the Select Group Referee from Northampton, who spoke for over an hour about different aspects of match control, interjected with tales of his experiences at the highest level of the game.

Meanwhile Richard, who is is halfway through his three-year reign as Norfolk County FA chairman, said he is enjoying the experience. 'I have kept a diary of what I have done. In the first year as chairman I have attended 74 different functions, not including meetings. I have always been an administrator so it's nice to turn up, shake people's hands and meet people who perhaps only knew me as a voice on the phone.'