Remembering our former General Secretary
Jack was without doubt a remarkable man and arguably the most devoted and dedicated General Secretary in the Hackney & Leyton’s long history.
He was available 24 hours, seven days a week, all the year round during his period of serving on the League Management Committee and he was there to help everyone no matter how trivial or major whatever needed sorting out. He was forever cheerful and had a ready sense of humour that endeared him to everyone. Jack was the most familiar and recognisable face on the Marshes.
Jack had remarkable stamina, even when he was in his late 70's he would walk the long distances to and from the different areas of the Marshes, he would start at the South Marsh, then on to the East Marsh and even all the way to the North Marsh just to make sure that all games on Sunday morning were covered by a referee. When he had satisfied himself that all was well, he would make his way back to the East Marsh at a brisk pace that belied his ageing years.
It was a familiar sight every Sunday to see him crossing the foot bridge at the top corner of the East Marsh and on occasions he was in such a hurry to catch up with his mates on the committee that he now and again got his feet caught in the goal nets as he walked between the pitches, this earned him the nickname ‘Tuna’ because he was often caught in the nets, but Jack saw the funny side of it and laughed it off.
Jack performed this weekly task in all kinds of weather, wind, rain, gales, and snow and ice, nothing would deter him from his duty. He had the same attitude whenever he attended meetings at whatever Headquarters we used at the time. In spite of the Committee telling him to get a cab to whatever venue he had to attend, he would insist that it wasn’t fair to use the League’s finances for his travel and so he used the trains and buses until he was nearing eighty years old and we would insist that he hired a cab whenever he travelled home at a late hour.
He was so dedicated to the League that when he had an accident on his way to the Marshes on one particular Sunday morning He apologised from his hospital bed for failing to arrive at the Marshes and so he proceeded to phone constantly from his sick bed and was even trying solve any arising problems until all games were safely underway. When he was released from hospital he was back on duty with immediate effect even though he was not really all that well.
Jack turned eighty years old and seemed as sprightly as ever. Amazingly he showed no signs of ever slowing up, and we were so lucky to have such a man as our General Secretary. He had the brain and wit of man many years younger and it was hard to imagine him as an old man, he had so much enthusiasm and energy and the rest of us thought he would go on forever. Sadly and suddenly he had a health set back, and without going into detail, he passed away. It was a great shock to all of us especially to those of us who had known him for years. We all loved Jack, and that goes for all the club officials and every player that had grown to know him during their playing years.
It was a great honour to have served on the League’s Committee alongside him and just to illustrate a measure of the esteem that he was held in; I was asked, in my capacity as an LFA Councillor to pay a tribute to Jack at a full London FA Council Meeting. I felt most honoured to speak to my peers about the contribution Jack had made to grass roots football during his lifetime, and the full council stood in silence to honour Jack, which is a tribute to a non member of the LFA Council that was, and still is, unheard of.
Jack Walpole, he was a great man and an impossible act to follow.
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