ONE of Malvern football's best-known and most respected figures has been awarded a Long Service Award for his services to football in Worcestershire. 

Don Loader received the award from FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham after 60 years of service to football in the county.

Not unreasonably, after more than half a century of contributions, Loader from Malvern has decided to retire and pass the baton he has carried so well as a player, manager and administrator for so long, on to younger colleagues in the county of Worcestershire.

Loader started playing football for Poolbrook back in 1963 and during the following two decades played for a number of clubs including Malvern Rangers, Malvern Town, Guarlford for several highly successful league and cup-winning years, Malvern Link, Morgan Motors, Ascension and Langlands FC.

In 1979 Loader became manager of Langlands FC and joint manager of Barnards Green, before joining Newtown Sports Juniors as manager of the U13’s Boys in 1981.

He then went on to become Club Secretary at Newtown Sports Junior Football Club and over the following twenty-five years performed a number of administrative roles for the club before he was appointed Club President in 2010.

In 1982 he joined the committee of the Mercian Junior Football League and took on the demanding task of Fixture Secretary for a rapidly growing junior football league in the days before the internet and before computers were everyday tools of the trade.

It was a role he held until recently when he decided that retirement beckoned. During his time at the helm, the league grew from just a dozen teams to the current three hundred teams each season.

Current League Chairman Ray Wright recently visited Loader to pass a letter of appreciation on from FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham, a fifty-year service pin badge, a forty-year medal and a token of thanks and affection from the Mercian Junior Football League and fellow committee members - an engraved crystal plaque.

"Don has been a vital part of the committee that runs this league for longer than any of us can remember,” said Wright.

"His role and input have been so important and show the amazing loyalty and support that Don has shown over the years to former chairman George Silverman and me since I took over the reins from George.

"He is a shining example to anyone out there looking to volunteer to help run an organisation like this for the benefit of thousands of young players and their parents.

"I’m sure I can say thank you to Don for his hard work from literally tens of thousands of people young and old - over the forty years he has been on the committee of this league. 

"His work for us and input has impacted on literally thousands of players and their parents each year. The commitment he has shown is exemplary and we cannot thank him enough for his ongoing contribution."