The referee is always Wright

DURING his time as a soccer referee he may often have been the least popular man on the pitch. But this week everyone wanted to shake his hand.Father-of-four William Wright, of Wymondham, has received a long-service award for being part of the Referees' Association for 50 years.

DURING his time as a soccer referee he may often have been the least popular man on the pitch. But this week everyone wanted to shake his hand.

Father-of-four William Wright, of Wymondham, has received a long-service award for being part of the Referees' Association for 50 years.

And on Tuesday, to celebrate his 90th birthday, he was given the chance to go to Norwich City's Colney training ground to meet the players. A thrilled Mr Wright, who was a referee from 1947 until 1970, said: “I wasn't expecting it. I'm honoured, very much so. From 1947 to 1970 I did various things for refereeing besides refereeing myself.”

When he was a ref, he not only officiated at games for the Midland, Eastern Counties, Norfolk and Suffolk leagues but local league cup-ties and the Senior Cup for Norfolk in 1959 at Carrow Road. He also helped out with various functions and five-a-side matches.

Mr Wright first started refereeing in the Army during the second world war.

“I know refs are frowned upon sometimes, but it's not always their fault,” said Mr Wright, who lives with his wife Freda. “I used to enjoy the people you met, the players you used to meet and the good company.”