York RA History

York RA – Brief HistoryRecords for the Association are sparse but some snippets have been gleaned from different sources.

Many referees have supported York City & District Referees’ Association (York RA as it is known) over the 100 year history.

These have come in the form of President, Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Delegates to the N Riding County RA, Representatives to York FA, Training Officer, Committee members, Auditor and the many volunteers over the years who have helped make the Association what it is today.

York RA is a thriving Referee’s Society formed in 1908 on the back of a thriving football scene in York. Since the previous century and into the 19th century referees officiated in local games and a “club” for referees came about in order to help referees

In the early years of the Association WR (Bill) Jennings played a major role and was subsequently joined by Bas Noble and both were stalwarts.

In January 1938 representatives from Scarborough, York and N Riding referees met in York to exchange ideas. Subsequently on 10 February 1939 the County Association was formed. However, due to the war meetings were suspended until November 1946.

I have an article from the national refereeing magazine “Football Referee” in October 1930 (priced at 2d) which refers to York RA’s AGM on 28 August “held at the headquarters”.

There was a discussion about how to raise funds and a whist drive was agreed as well as to “promote a Christmas Cheer”, the former of which was to be held at Rowntrees Dining Block (or by the “kindness of Messrs. Rowntrees of Plain Mr York fame”).

The other notable item was that subscriptions were to be raised to 4/6d, being a step in the right direction as every member would receive a copy of the Referee direct.

A balance sheet for 1949-50 shows that subscriptions were 6/- (68 members).

One other paper snippet dated 1952 refers to York referees travelling to Blaydon to play in a football match. York won 1-0 “thanks to a splendid effort by Piggin”.

Meeting venues included the British Legion Club, Micklegate and York City Supporters Club. Annual dinners had been held at the Windmill Hotel.

Membership records have been retained since 1958 and although the average membership over the seasons has been in the 60-100 range the total number of members (all referees) exceeds 600 in the last 50 years.

A variety of venues has been used for meetings. The records show the following recent locations:

York Hospital Social Club 2012 to date

York City FC Social Club 2005-2012

New Earswick Indoor Bowls Club 2000-2005

Bay Horse (Marygate) – closed 1990-2000

Punch Bowl (Lowther Street) 1988-1990

Vickers Social Club (Haxby Road) 1983-1988

Shepherd Social Club 1982-1983

York City FC 1980-1982

Vickers Social Club (Bishophill) 1970-1980

York City Supporters Club 1963-1970

In 1983 York RA celebrated 75 years with a 5-a-side football tournament held at York Civil Service grounds (alas no more). Members that year received an engraved glass paperweight.

A variety of social events have taken place from whist drives, discos, quizzes, brewery trips (hic!), ghost walks, race nights, pig racing and treasure hunts (both car and walking).

A variety of speakers have visited York RA meetings and dinners over the years. These have included Ian Blanchard, Keith Hackett, Howard and Bibi Webb, Peter Willis, Ken Burns, Harold Hackney and Ken Aston to name drop a few.

A number of PGMOL officials have also been guest speakers at meetings / dinners.

There has always been good support from York City with managers and staff willing to speak at meetings.

Dinners have been held at a number of locations with some memorable nights at Merchant Taylors, The Racecourse and more recently at Beechwood Close Hotel. Latterly dinners have been held a the Marriott Hotel in York.

York RA newsletters have been produced over the years with the “Extra Times” being distributed to members in the 1980’s.

This then developed into an e-newsletter in 2000 and the website edition and more recently as an emailed newsletter.

York RA hit the web in 1998 and has a presence today (www.communigate.co.uk/york/yorkrefereesassociation) – no longer available

In 2003 the York City Academy of referees was formed to promote a controlled environment for the younger referees and this exists today with a good mentoring system helping these new referees mature and evolve.

Bringing the history right up to date the latest instalment in the history is the award of a lottery grant (Awards for All) in 2007. The Association is now the proud owners of multi-media kit and a laptop, camcorder and other associated equipment for training purposes.

This should help York RA recruit and retain referees into the next 100 years.

Members who have at a senior level (FL and Premiership as a referee or Assistant Referee/Linesman has been numerous.

FH Harris is the first recorded official to referee on the FL in 1927 whilst a member of York RA

Other notable referees have been Peter Rhodes who spent 16 years refereeing on the FL until 1966. In 1968 he went on to officiate in the United States, which meant an 18 month ban as the tournament was not recognised by FIFA. Vince James refereed for 13 seasons on the FL in the 60/70’s.

In recent times Matt Messias refereed on the Premiership (Division 1 in old money) for 6 years whilst with us in York, renowned for poking Robbie Savage in the eye during a game at Newcastle.

In February 2011 a Lol Cussans memorial (by the Cussans family) and ran for 10 full years with an annual event at St Clements WMC in York.

At the end of 2012 York RA has its own Facebook Group page’ then in 2013 a dedicated York RA Facebook (www.facebook.com/yorkra) site was set up and linked to a new website www.yorkreferee.co.uk (this site). Furthermore, a twitter account (www.twitter.com/york_ra) was also set up for York RA. This also enabled online membership with payment of subs via PayPal, with direct debits being added in 2016.

January 2014 saw York RA being awarded the RA Quest Bronze Award, meeting the required elements of the award.

In 2016 John Ledgeway stepped down as Chairman (10 years).

The March 2018 was a first in York RA history when due to really bad weather in the country and in the York area, the meeting had to be cancelled due to the adverse weather.

The dinner in 2019 was the last until 2022 when it could be resurrected

In March 2020 the 10th and final Lol Cussans evening was held.

Furthermore, in 2020 the Coronavirus pandemic hit the country / world and in March 2020 all grassroots football was suspended indefinitely and subsequently 2020-21 games were expunged from the records of all local leagues due to COVID-19. Consequently, Feb 2020 was the last York RA meeting of the season….the March, April and May meetings were cancelled as was the dinner scheduled for May 2020.

A number of Zoom meetings were held during COVID without much success/numbers; the National RA did hold Zoom meetings for members

Eventually, in September 2021 we got back to physical meetings at the usual venue….but it has been difficult getting referees to attend (lot of apathy). The dinner in 2022 was the first in three years and was a success

In September 2022 the first meeting of the new season was held following the Pandemic….now back to “normal”. The season got off to a slow start but momentum took place and meetings are well attended

2022-23 saw a successful season for York RA culminating in a Silver Quest Award from the National RA in May 2023 (at the annual dinner). This was presented by John Wilson

Also at the dinner on 19 May 2023, Ian Hotchkies was presented with a memento from members for his lengthy service as Secretary … over 40 years (handed over to Conor Ledgeway at the May AGM)

Ian was also presented with his 50 year award as well as Life Membership to the National RA for his services ….. well deserved


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FL Officials and more

Referees from York who have served as a Referee on the Football League are:F.H.Harris 1927 – 29 (3 seasons)J.Harrison 1935 – 36 (2) *G.Pearson 1939 (1)

H.Hartles 1946 (1) *

H.W.Moore 1947 – 49 (3) *

P.F.Power 1949 – 56 (8)

P.Rhodes 1951 – 66 (16)

M.Dixon 1957 – 61 (5)

V.James 1961 – 73 (13)

L.A.Cussons 1967 – 68 (2)

H.Taylor 1987 – 88 (2) *

M.Messias 1997 – 2002 (6) *

Referees marked with an * served more seasons on the FL but moved to another town. Only their seasons in York have been recorded.

4 Referees were available for Wartime appointments 1942-43

T.B.Albrecht, E.Haxby, Sergt Maddison and T.L.Shaw

V. James refereed the Football League Cup Final at Wembley 1970 (Man City 2 v 1 WBA aet) and the Texaco Cup Final 1974 (Newcastle Utd 2 v 1 Burnley)

Linesmen (now Assistant Referees) who have been members of York RA whilst performing on the Football League over the years include:

Bas Noble, Jock Meldrum, Arnold Myers, Bob Himsworth, Fred Young, Martin Short, Graham Bradbury, Tony Harteveld, Craig Barker and Alf Greenwood.

Unfortunately records do not show the very early years, so apologies for missing any names from the above.

There has also been many referees who have performed at senior levels in the game (Panel, Vauxhall Conference, Yorkshire League, Unibond (Northern Premier), Northern Counties East and other Senior Feeder Leagues.

We must also remember the “bread and butter” referees who have given their all in local leagues at different age groups in the York City and District areas. These officials have been the life blood of grassroots football over the 100 years.

If it was not for these officials the local game would suffer even more than it does today.

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100 Years of York RA

 York RA was founded in 1908 on the back of football growth in the area.York & District Football League (Saturday) had been founded some 9 years earlier.In 1908 saw the foundation of the York & District Minor League (Youth football).2008 sees 100 years of the Referees’ Association in York, although referees were working hard in the area long before this date and into the previous century.On 7 March 2008 the Centenary Dinner was held to celebrate the 100 years.The Sheriff of York, Keith Hyman, and the Sheriff’s Lady attended the function to celebrate 100 years of York RA.

Other guests included Barry Bright, Vice Chairman, The FA, Alan Poulain, Chairman RA of England, Arthur Smith, General Secretary of the RA, and David Allison, Manager PGMOL.

Some 195 members, ex-members and guests attended the function which included a tribute to absent friends with the Poppleton Singers performing a number of songs, ending with “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Representatives from the various bodies attended including the FA Regional Manager (Alan Wilkie), NRCFA and York FA members, various local league representatives (Leeper Hare, F1 Racing, York Minor League and the Mitchell League).

A number of colleagues from other Referees’ Associations also attended (Northumberland and N Riding). Steve Beck attended from York City.

The evening was about referees old and new. It was pleasing to see so many ex-members including Peter Rhodes and Reg Baren (life members of the Association).

The City of York, The FA, RAE, PGMOL and the Leeper Hare FL made presentations to commemorate the Centenary and the President, Ian Hotchkies, reciprocated with mementos from York RA.

A great evening was had by all making acquaintances with referees and colleagues. It is hoped that some of those attending will also attend the National RA Centenary Conference in Solihull on the 5 July 2008.