Tributes have been paid to former local footballer and referee, Stan Cornwell, who died following a lengthy battle with illness.
A robust, committed player, notably with Great Wakering Rovers and Spartek, Stan left his mark as a larger than life character in the local game.
At the conclusion of his playing career, Stan took up the whistle and proved to be a popular referee amongst clubs and players in the Southend area as his honesty, enthusiasm and love of the game came to the fore in abundance.
Remembering Stan, former King’s Field Casuals player and the Yellow Advertiser’s Chief Sports Reporter, Brian Jeeves, recalled: “Stan was a terrific referee.
“After the match, he’d join us at the bar for a pint and share stories of old players and matches. He had a great knowledge of football in Great Wakering and told us about some of the great players that had represented the Rovers.
Stuart Leslie, once of Southend Manor, had a bizarre memory of Stan: “I got sent off playing against him and sent off by him when he was a ref!
“A top man, who was my first player sponsor at Southend Manor. He used to own Cornwell Paper. I provided his fire extinguishers and he kindly sponsored me for the year – £250 – which was quite a lot of money in the 80s.
“He was always smiling and we always laughed with him.”
Martin Sanderson turned out for Eastwood Falcons and Leigh Times: “Stan’s running commentaries as he refereed were the stuff of legend,” he enthused.
“I’m genuinely upset to hear of his demise, I’m not sure that I’ve met a nicer bloke in my lifetime.
“I was in my teens when I first came across him. He was an opponent, playing cricket for Foulness. I liked him so much that I guested in a few games for them over the years. John Fry – another local referee – also played for them.
“It’s an old cliche, but I’ve never heard a bad word said about the man – and for a referee that is a remarkable stat. He was incredibly skilled at what he did and players loved him.”
Similarly to Stan, Kerry Fairless both played and refereed in the various Southend & District Leagues: “I was reffing at Roots Hall, and roped Stan in as my assistant,” he told Yellow Sport.
“He’d never officiated at ‘The Hall’ before and was quite nervous. I made it clear it was a proper game (it was Southend United’s first team) and as such he had to be professional – ‘Get a haircut, a suit on, make sure you have a tie’ – On the day he turned up looking immaculate. His face was a picture when he saw me and the other lino bedecked in shorts and t-shirts. He may have used some choice language. I’ll miss Stan, he was one of a kind.”
Stan’s cousin, Liz Cornwell added: “He was a jovial man – A character who always had a bright outlook on life.”
Following Stan’s passing, the Southend Borough & District Football Combination League have confirmed a match will be played in Stan’s memory to raise funds and awareness for various cancer charities.
The match will be played at The Len Forge Centre on Saturday, June 26 (2:15pm). Further details can be obtained from Sheryl MacRae via email at [email protected]