Having known Jermaine for 17 years this news hits even harder as I consider Jermaine to be a dear friend on a personal level and not just someone I have worked with on the league website. Jermaine has been a part of the League for twenty years. From his days at Salisbury FC to refereeing and then an integral role within the League Committee with huge enthusiasm, commitment and forward thinking gusto. An irreplaceable member of our league we owe him much more than a huge debt of gratitude.
I often joked with Jermaine did he actually ever sleep. A man who not only worked full-time for the NHS but also worked tirelessly every day with the league. Dealing with teams, referees, fixtures, the LFA and various other departments and people within grassroots football, the list was endless. I just never understood how he actually fitted it all into a week. He lived for football, his huge obsessive passion being grassroots football and our beloved Hackney & Leyton Football League.
But Jermaine was not just someone who dedicated himself to our league. More than that he was an extraordinary human being. A man graced with spirit, soul, a zest for life and an unflinching ability to want to help people, often before himself.
Typing while tears stream down your face is something I have become all too familiar in doing after losing my partner Kate at the age of 31 in 2017 and now I must type again for a dear friend and special man in Jermaine. I am still expecting to see an email drop in my inbox or the phone to ring to hear “what’s up bro!” – or numerous emails about the website!
We drove each other mad at times with the website and league matters but that was more to do with our shared steadfast ability to strive for excellence within the league. The league, the teams and players within it was always our first priority. Jermaine is a massive reason why the league continues to run as it does and the huge advances we have made. Not all decisions have been easy but he has always been a pioneer in bringing the league forward with various initiatives.
Make no mistake of the huge effort that goes on behind the scenes of running a league like ours, the most iconic grassroots football leagues in the UK. Jermaine is the most integral reason for that. I know this first-hand better than most over the years and not scared to ruffle any feathers by saying this.
Last summer we spent thousands of hours emailing, on the phone and in person (while Jermaine slowly went through my wine collection at my home!) creating the new website.
Jermaine simply put was Mr Hackney Marshes as said by so many. He joins the likes of Alec Pretlove in the hall of fame of fallen league committee members who have done so much for our League. Referees, Secretaries, Teams, Players and others at the Hackney Marshes will always remember Jermaine for his beaming smile, his welcoming demeanour and ability to go out of his way for anyone.
These are the traits that mark the true man, his willingness to put others before him. I can’t even begin to compute how much effort he put into this league. Giving without expecting.
You will be missed more than anything my brother. Tonight I will light a candle for you next to my Kate’s and raise a glass of white wine in memory and honour of not just your tireless work for our league but also to our great friendship.