Richard Bailey named BBC North East Unsung Sporting Hero for 2017
South Shields FC vice-president Richard Bailey has had his remarkable service to the club recognised after he won a prestigious BBC award.
Richard, who first started supporting the Mariners in 1945, has been named as the BBC North East and Cumbria’s Unsung Sporting Hero for 2017.
He is now in contention to win the national unsung sporting hero award, and will discover if he has picked up that accolade too at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony, in Liverpool on December 17.
Over the years, Richard has held a variety of roles with the Mariners, from supporter to committee member to vice-president.
The 84-year-old is still an extremely regular and popular face at Mariners Park on matchdays and non-matchdays, carrying out responsibilities including cleaning the dressing rooms and guarding the corridors.
His award win took him by surprise.
Richard – who appeared on BBC Look North on Tuesday – said: “I find it all very emotional – I’m just overwhelmed by it.
“Getting personal recognition has never really bothered me – I just do what needs to be done – but this is a real honour.
“What I do is the simplest thing in the world to me, but every day spent at this football club has been a pleasure.
“I find the whole thing very exciting, but at the same time very emotional.
“I didn’t expect anything like this, but I’m very grateful.”
Figures at the club were queuing up to pay tribute to Richard.
Joint manager Lee Picton said: “His personality has never changed.
“He’s always doing whatever jobs he can, from putting the corner flags out to sweeping the changing rooms. He also looks after the gate on the halfway line for when the supporters come through.
“He just does an absolute myriad of jobs around the ground, and every football club needs people like Richard Bailey.
“He’s an absolute gem.”
Club secretary Philip Reay said: “Without people like him, we wouldn’t have survived.
“He takes the pressure off everybody else, because he does the little things and allows us to get on with our jobs.”
Vice-chairman Gary Crutwell added: “Every time he’s down at the ground, the brush is out and he makes sure the place is spotless.
“He really is a top lad, and he thoroughly deserves this award.”