Youth Team Regular
Jan 17, 2010, 10:23 AM
Post #1 of 1
ONE of the best-known characters in local junior football in North Staffordshire, Frank Burgess, has died at the age of 80.
Burgess, who originated from Oakhill, was known as Mr Hanford because of his long association with Hanford Boys' Club in the Staffordshire County League.
He became the club's first manager when they were formed in 1959 and was chairman when they were forced to disband through lack of funding in 2007.
Tommy Bloor founded Hanford BC at Riverside Road, but they needed a manager over the age of 21 and he approached Burgess, who was running Stoke Boys' Club.
Burgess once recalled: "After first rejecting them, because of my work with Stoke Boys' Club, my wife, Hilda, persuaded me to take on the challenge.
"I went to watch my new club play one Saturday afternoon at Trent Vale in the Stoke-on-Trent under-21s league, and I couldn't believe what I saw.
"There they were, playing in an old strip that had every colour of the rainbow in it. I couldn't believe what I'd got myself into."
But Burgess stuck with Hanford, and at times he almost ran the club single-handedly.
At one time he was manager, secretary and treasurer, while his wife washed the strip.
Hanford BC changed grounds to St Joseph's College and then moved from their roots to Northwood Stadium, despite attempts to find a home of their own.
Burgess, who was a tiler by trade, was presented with a 50-year service award by the English FA and received a City of Stoke on Trent Sports Personality of the Year award for services to sport in 2007 when suffering from cancer.
Apart from his commitment to Hanford BC, Burgess served on various football committees and was also a referee in the Potteries and District Sunday League.
He refereed the league's first cup final in 1964 and also took charge of the Sentinel Shield final 20 years later in 1984.
One of his grandsons, Anthony Allred, said: "Hanford played at Ipstones and the referee failed to turn up. Frank said he would deputise.
"He had some kit in the car, but did not have a whistle, so someone went to a local shop and bought a goodie bag.
"The result was that Frank refereed the game with a plastic trumpet."
Burgess hung up his whistle after 30 years in the middle in 1991 when he felt he was too old to carry on at the age of 62.
He was renowned for the green beret he wore.
It was from his national service days in the Army and when he lost the beret on an away trip someone bought a red replacement.
But it soon fell to pieces.
Burgess celebrated his 80th birthday in November.
(This post was edited by R.S.Cavendish on Jan 17, 2010, 10:34 AM)