Ref Ron dies aged 87

PUBLISHED: 12:31 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010

Ron Cross

Ron Cross

A legendary football referee has died aged 87. Ron Cross, of Hopton Road, Stevenage, was known far and wide for his interesting and varied hobbies, which included ballroom dancing and bowls. But it was his first passion, refereeing and coaching youth foot

A legendary football referee has died aged 87.

Ron Cross, of Hopton Road, Stevenage, was known far and wide for his interesting and varied hobbies, which included ballroom dancing and bowls.

But it was his first passion, refereeing and coaching youth football, that made him unique.

In 2003 his autobiography, Don't Cross the Ref, was published, which tracked his busy life that didn't slow down after retirement.

His story makes interesting reading, including five years of wartime imprisonment in Germany starting soon after he was called up at 21.

After the war, Ron's love of football refereeing followed him through the next 54 years and he only recently hung up his whistle. Bryan Bullen, Ron's son-in-law, said: "At one point Ron was the country's oldest referee until he gave up just a year ago. There are not many footballers in Stevenage who haven't been refereed by Ron."

He arrived in Hertfordshire in 1970 where he took up refereeing youth football matches and training new, upcoming referees.

His family say one of his greatest achievements was coaching Graham Poll, who will be refereeing in this year's World Cup.

Ron's trophy collection is extensive. Bryan said: "He just loved sport and he's got loads of medals for bowling. He used to play snooker in his lunchtimes and he played indoor as well as outdoor bowls.

"He really enjoyed the outside and he was a bit of a disciplinarian on the field as a referee.

"He used to train referees in his flat and he's done talks at schools, he was an inspiration.

"He's refereed Stevenage Borough games, junior teams in America and also at the Leyton Orient Stadium in 1957 when England under-18s were playing Ireland."

"He was very fit, and local people at Hopton Road where he lived used to refer to him as the Jogger because he always used to run to the paper shop in the morning.

"He'll be greatly missed by everybody." said Bryan.

Ron leaves behind two daughters, Heather and Margaret, and five grandchildren.

* The funeral will be held at Harwood Park crematorium at 5pm on Friday, April 28. Donations to Ward 8A Lister Hospital.

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