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.”
Ahead of Saturday’s game against Ashington, a special presentation was made at Mariners Park to South Shields striker Stephen Ramsey.
Ramsey, who is into his 10th season with the club, reached the mark of 300 appearances for the Mariners in last month’s FA Vase tie at Esh Winning.
South Shields club stalwart Richard Bailey enjoyed a day to remember at Mariners Park on Saturday – despite the game against Ryhope CW being abandoned after four minutes.
Richard, who attended his first Shields match 70 years ago this week, was in for a surprise ahead of kick-off.
The two teams formed a guard of honour for Richard, who shook the hands of all of the Mariners players before being presented with a bottle and card by vice-chairman Gary Crutwell.
You can watch the guard of honour and presentation in the video above, while there are a series of pictures below, and available here: In Pictures – Richard Bailey’s special day. All images are by Peter Talbot.
Everyone at South Shields FC would like to thank Richard – who has been a supporter, assistant secretary, committee member and now vice-president over the years – for his continued support and service.
Created with flickr slideshow.