Football league mourns loss of ‘a true gentleman’

John Burchett
John Burchett

THE FOOTBALL community is mourning the death of a long-serving local league official.

THE FOOTBALL community is mourning the death of a long-serving local league official.

John Burchett, who was secretary of the Driffield and District Football League, died in the early hours of last Thursday, after a long period of illness.

With the season drawing to a close, teams involved in league and cup matches last weekend, held a minute’s silence, or a minute’s applause, in Mr Burchett’s memory.

Tributes have been paid by friends and colleagues, with many suggesting he kept the Driffield League going almost single-handedly at times in recent years.

League chairman Norman Harris, said: “I first met John when I took up refereeing in 1982 and we soon became very close friends.

“At this time, John was referees appointments secretary to the Driffield League and he went on to be cup secretary.

“Then when Arthur Saunderson retired, John stepped in to take up the mantle of league secretary which he held until his untimely death last week.

“It was John who got me involved in the league committee as cup secretary in 1990.

“He loved his football and was involved with East Riding County FA from 1987, taking part on many different committees until he retired at the end of last season and was made a life vice president of the county FA.

“It was an honour for me to take on John’s league role at the county FA and I only hope I can carry on where John left off.”

Mr Burchett was born in Brighton and posted to this area in the RAF and demobbed in 1968. He played football for Little Driffield, until he broke his leg and decided to quit playing and took up refereeing.

Away from football, he lived in Driffield and worked as a bus driver in the area for many years.

Mr Harris added: “The Driffield League has lost a lot of clubs, mainly from the villages, due to various reasons but John was always determined to maintain the status of the league and always fought his corner at county FA meetings.

“If it had not been for John’s determination I think the league may have folded many years ago.

“What can I say about John? He was his own man, a stickler for rules and always had a rule book to hand.

“John was also a very keen Brighton fan and was pleased when they finally decided to build the new ground and complex in Brighton.

“Myself and John have been very close friends for about 30 years and he will be very much missed by myself and the local footballing community.”

Forester Athletic secretary and Driffield League vice-president Andy Wheeler said: “Everyone at Forester Athletic send sincere condolences to John’s family.

“He was a true gentleman and always went out of his way to make sure that teams got a game of football on Saturdays.”

Mr Burchett’s funeral service takes place tomorrow (Friday) at East Riding Crematorium at Octon at 11am