Football: Dedicated Belhus Park Athletic volunteer recognised with award

DEDICATED Belhus Park Athletic FC volunteer Dave Barley has been presented with his FA 50-Year Award in recognition of decades of selfless dedication to grassroots football.

Dave, who received his memento on Sunday 23rd August at Lakeside Sports Ground, has been with Belhus Park since he helped to form them in the 1960s. To be eligible for The FA’s ‘Order of Merit’ Award, a nominated individual must have completed 50 years as a volunteer, inclusive of their playing career but excluding any football played at school.

He started playing in 1961 for Belhus Barbarians, playing in a ‘Street Football League’ against other street teams. Dave’s team merged with another to form Belhus Park during the 1960’s. In 1970, he became their Secretary and Treasurer, taking over the management of the whole team in 1978.

He still plays the leading role, even though he has support for some of the position. Dave has been the life and soul of Belhus Park Athletic throughout its existence, holding every role at the club at some point. Over the past few years they’ve struggled for players, yet he has always got a team out and completed the season’s fixtures, sometimes with less than eleven players.

Although Dave is now in his mid-seventies, at least once a year he still puts on his boots and plays, looking younger than some of the regulars and showing his passion and skill! He is also an excellent club assistant referee. The Thurrock Association Sunday League have, more than once, awarded Dave for his professionalism as Secretary of the Year and Club Assistant Referee of the Year.

He is recognised by the league as an honest and loyal supporter of football. Dave is a true football man who is loyal to his team and the league they play in, never missing a meeting and always getting a team out each Sunday.

To find out more about volunteering within grassroots Essex football, browse the ‘Volunteers’ menu at www.essexfa.com, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and search for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.

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