Clubs across Cumbria will pay tribute this weekend to County FA chairman Fred Conway, who died suddenly on Sunday.
The County FA have asked all of their affiliated clubs and teams to take part in a period of applause at games on Saturday and Sunday.
Should clubs not have a game scheduled or it is postponed, they have been asked to remember and recognise the tremendous contribution Fred made to local football.
Due to his association with the refereeing fraternity all match officials will wear black armbands.
Most recently Fred had played an active and instrumental role in supporting the development of refereeing within the county. This was an area of the game that he was extremely passionate about.
He was well known within the local game, due mainly to his various roles within a number of leagues across the west of the county.
He had been the chair within the Workington and District Sunday League and The West Cumbria Youth Football League, as well as continuing to fulfil the role of Secretary and Chair of the Egremont and District Sunday League and also Chair of The Cumberland County League.
From 2004, he has acted as chair of the County FA and more recently became the FA representative to council for Cumberland.
In a fulsome tribute Ben Snowdon, the Cumberland FA chief executive highlighted the qualities that had made Fred Conway such a unique figure in county football circles.
He said: “It is no understatement to say that Fred Conway’s life has been based around football and more specifically football within Cumberland.
“As with most people his love of the game had been developed from his time playing. Described as tenacious but talented player, his love affair with the game started when he began playing for the Boys Brigade before moving to Cockermouth Albion Under 18s where he won the Derwent Valley Junior League.
“His career then moved onto playing within the Wearside league for Marchon on a Saturday and he also had a successful spell at Calder Lions, and then Egremont Athletic in the Sunday League.
“It was during his time at Egremont Athletic where he took his first steps into management. After this team folded he moved to St Bees to guide them through their most successful period within Sunday League football.
“Then Fred moved to Mirehouse AFC where he oversaw their domination of Sunday League football, including three back to back Sunday County Cups in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
“Well known for his strong opinions, he was never going to sit back quietly and let others lead, and so when, in the 1980s, an opportunity arose to join the Egremont & District Sunday League committee, he took it.
“Before long he was the chair and then also the Secretary of the league, where he has remained, in various capacities until today. In the mid-80s Fred passed the basic referee course and registered as a referee.
“Whilst, due to his commitments within other footballing roles, his time within refereeing was probably shorter than he’d have liked, it was clearly an area of the game that he enjoyed and this passion meant that he remained active within the refereeing fraternity attending meetings, overseeing central appointments including senior county cup games and also mentoring various young referees across the county.
“In the late 1990s Fred was elected onto the Cumberland County FA council. He subsequently served on various committees including discipline, regulations, referees and youth, where he vice-chair.
“This was an area of football that was very close to his heart and in particular he was very keen on Under 18s representative football.
“This led to him managing various sides during two spells as manager, including the most successful side in recent history, who reached the Final of the Northern Counties competition, which was hugely impressive achievement when you consider the scale and size of the counties we were competing against.
“In 2004 he was nominated and subsequently voted in as chair of the County FA. Around 2018 he was elected by members of all Northern County FAs as the President of The Association of Northern Counties.
“More recently, in 2020, he was chosen as the County FA’s representative to The FA where he sat as a member of FA council and was appointed onto various national football committees including facilities and more recently football development.
“However, it was his position as Chair of Cumberland FA of which he was most proud, and he would often be heard telling new members of the county that the Cumberland FA badge meant more to him than anything else.
“Although this was not technically true as, although he may not have said it as often, it was his family that remained his number one priority.
“Whether it be his late mother or the huge character that was his late father, his brother, his nephews, his cousins or his partner Vicky, family was the only thing that beat football, well most of the time!
“He had, or more specifically made, time for everyone who asked for his help and never, despite the status of some of the positions he held, forgot about where he had come from and the numerous people who had helped him along the way.
“He was unique, which is why he will be irreplaceable.”