With the death last week of Derek York, local football has lost a great personality and a top administrator.
Derek held high office at Eastbourne United, Hailsham Town and Wealden and was a former secretary of the Isthmian League.
After leaving United in the mid-eighties, he became heavily involved at Hailsham where he held offices of secretary, treasurer and chairman.
A club statement from Hailsham Town read: “It’s sad to report former club chairman and secretary Derek York died of a heart attack in the Woodside Nursing Home last week.
“His funeral will be held at the Eastbourne Crematorium, Hide Hollow, on Thursday January 31 (1.45pm) if anybody would like to attend and pay their respects. RIP “Yorkie.”
Derek was a regular contributor to the Gazette & Herald sports pages, covering numerous away matches involving United and Hailsham. His reports were first-class.
I had a love-hate relationship with Derek and we had regular “goes” at each other, he in the Hailsham programme and me in Herald Sports Opinion. It is fair to say that Derek featured in Sports Opinion more than most.
Bizarre though it may seem, it was my criticism of his half-time refreshments that provided a regular talking-point among local fans. Derek’s biscuits (for home and visiting committees and the press) were renowned as being hard and stale and I would regularly say so. “Derek’s got his biscuits ready for you Ken” supporters would say to me when I would turn up at The Beaconsfield.
“How are the teeth?” would be the second half question with the first half of the actual game seemingly forgotten. But despite our clashes in print, there was mutual respect and we usually found time for a drink after the game with Derek usually condemning my latest writings as “a load of rubbish.”
There was one half-time after I had upset the Hailsham club in the previous day’s Herald when Derek had made sure that every committee member was present to have a go at me. At the end of it all, with the second half due, the winning raffle prizes were announced and, believe it or not, I had won £10. “Thank you gentlemen,” I said to them, “That was worth a tenner.” Derek’s scowl was never bigger and that was the last time money was awarded as a cash prize at Hailsham.
Sports Opinion could be serious, but it could also be fun. Those infamous biscuits could always be guaranteed to raise a smile.
Derek had not been in the best of health in recent years and his presence has been sadly missed at local games.
We may not always have seen eye to eye, but his knowledge of the game and its rulebook could never be questioned.
Yorkie, as he was affectionately known, was one of the old school and was hugely respected in all corners of the county.