Tributes paid to much-loved Stevenage football coach Ken Headington
PUBLISHED: 15:50 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:08 14 February 2019
Tributes have been paid to a Stevenage football coach described as a "legend of this town" after his sudden death.
Ken Headington died suddenly at the aged of 60 on Sunday, prompting an outpouring of emotion from those who knew him.
Ken’s first involvement was in Stevenage Borough Football Club’s EFCO scheme in the late 1990s and early 2000s at North Herts College – which mixed football with education.
He then returned to the club – now Stevenage FC – in 2017 as a foundation coach, playing a key part in delivering walking football sessions and youth engagement programmes while also being a welcoming face at the Kids’ Zone on matchdays.
Paying tribute, Joe Goude, head of the Stevenage FC Foundation, said: “Ken was the embodiment of community, and giving opportunities to those that needed it.
“His unrivalled commitment to giving people young and old a chance to be involved in the game is like no-one else I have met.
“His contribution to sport in Stevenage and football in Hertfordshire is something that will live on for years to come, and testament to the tremendous contribution he’s made to our community.
“Everyone at the foundation will sorely miss Ken and his passion, enthusiasm and love for what football can bring to people’s lives.”
Ken also worked as a development officer for Hertfordshire FA, with the association’s chairman Brian Curtis praising his dedication to football.
“Ken served the FA with great dedication for many years,” said Brian.
“His enthusiasm for the game and belief in the positive impact it could have on people’s lives was evident to all who met him. He will be greatly missed.”
Hundreds of young footballers in Stevenage we introduced to the game by Ken during his time volunteering for Bedwell Rangers, including F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Club president Gary Dempsey called for Ken to be honoured, saying: “Football in Hertfordshire has lost a great person and he was truly a legend of this town, and I hope his picture will join the many famous faces that adorn the foot bridge next to the leisure centre.
“Ken philosophy at Bedwell Rangers was simple. If eight kids turned up and we have four jumpers and a ball, then we have a game. It was only natural that Ken then went on to become a highly-skilled coach.
“Personally, I had a deep admiration for Ken as I witnessed on many an occasions how much he loved youth football. If I could achieve 10 per cent of what Ken has achieved I would die a happy man.”
Bedwell chairman Neil Finch added: Ken joined the club in 1983 and over many, many years was responsible for introducing hundreds of young players to the game and the club.
“Ken’s amazing dedication, enthusiasm and passion meant that those he coached learned not just to play the game, but to love the game – as he did.”