The talk was an enthralling account of Stephen’s life as a coach, referee and administrator of the sport he loved and which had rewarded him with fund of anecdotes and memories, plus an award – the John Holmes Award for service to Rugby League. It was clear as the talk progressed why he deserved this award, but it was also obvious that his involvement with and love of the sport has not ceased.
Stephen was able to pin-point the date he really became entranced with Rugby League:
21st September 1966, the first match he attended was the official opening of the floodlighting of the Headingley Stadium after which evening matches could be held. The atmosphere was special even then – though there was little pre-match spectacle – so different from today.
His introduction to coaching began with his first job – at Holt Park, first in the primary school, later in the Middle School, where after-school activities were part of being a teacher. He started with coaching the under 10 team, took the relevant exams, becoming a fully-qualified coach passing on his skills to other adults. He then became part of the coaching team for Leeds, and then Yorkshire’s, under 13s. He recounted how special it was accompanying the under 13’s to Wembley for a cup final, where they were the ball-boys. He later was in a choir that backed Aled Jones before a cup-final at Wembley … another memorable occasion. He then moved into refereeing and he recounted incidents as a touch judge or a referee at matches, at home and in France. He ended his teaching career as Headmaster of Adel Primary School.
It was an up-lifting talk. His enthusiasm was palpable and even if not a devotee of rugby league, it was inspiring. When team shots were shown, Stephen could point out future Rugby League “names” that had started in junior leagues in Leeds and which famous clubs they ended playing for… a point Fred Archenhold made in the Vote of Thanks he gave to Stephen.