A presentation was made to Gordon Rayner following completion of 50 years’ service to Suffolk football.
A medal was given to 73-year-old Rayner — who lives in Risby, near Bury St Edmunds — by Suffolk Football Association (FA) president Gordon Blake on behalf of the national FA.
Following the unexpected award, he said: “I have so many people to thank, particularly family, for the support they have given me in whatever role I was involved in.
“I am keeping busy currently on the Suffolk Cricket Umpires panel and still travel to many football matches locally, often as the county FA representative and I am most fortunate to attend many Football League matches with Kelvin Morton as his guest when he carries out his role as referee assessor — it’s brilliant being involved in football at so many levels.”
Rayner’s 50 years commenced in 1963 when he was involved in the early days of the Bury and District Saturday and Sunday Leagues.
He was secretary of the latter for several years, as was as being an active referee and serving as the Bury St Edmunds’ branch and county secretary of the Referees’ Association.
He was elected to council, representing the local leagues in 1964.
On Suffolk FA, Rayner served as the referees’ appointments secretary and several other roles before reaching the pinnacle of his involvement when being made chairman of the county FA and was very involved in 2000 when Suffolk FA became a limited company and moved into its own offices.
He was recently awarded life membership of the Suffolk FA and still sits on the disciplinary panel as and when required.
Having retired from refereeing following an injury, Rayner took up assessing both at county and contributory levels.