TRIBUTE has been paid this week to a stalwart member of the South Devon Football League who has died after a short illness.

Ian Peter Richardson, who lived in Dawlish, died at 71 in Rowcroft Hospice. He had been associated with the league for 55 years.

On Monday at St Gregory’s Church, Dawlish, many local football figures joined family, friends and past work colleagues from his 40 years with British Telecom at a service to remember his life,

Mr Richardson was a lifelong supporter of grass roots football, especially the South Devon Football League.

He became the league’s treasurer in 1992 on the passing of Clive Olney, whom he had assisted for a number of years. He joined the league’s executive committee, as it was then known, in 1976 and between then and 1992 took on the roles of social secretary, league tables compiler and assistant treasurer.

Before his involvement in the management of the league, Mr Richardson had been a one-club man, that club being Harbertonford. He played more than 600 games for them from when he joined in 1960 until injury forced him to retire from playing in 1977. He then went on to manage the team from 1977 to 1983.

During his 17-year playing career he scored more than 300 goals but never collected a trophy. Ironically six months after he retired from playing, Harbertonford won the Dartmouth Cup.

During his playing career he was cautioned only twice – one of those cautions was for time-wasting when his team was winning 12-0!

Mr Richardson took his role as league treasurer seriously, however; he could always be relied upon to brighten up any meeting with his dry wit as those attending annual meetings of the league will testify.

Sometimes the butt of his humour would be the travails of his beloved Torquay United, for whom he was a lifelong supporter.

Only someone with Mr Richardson’s sense of fun would be brought into the church to the strains of The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel and be carried out to the strains of Van McCoy’s The Hustle.

Despite the time he gave to local football and his love for anything involving sport, Mr Richardson remained firmly a family man.

He is survived by Christine, his wife of 49 years, and sons Mark and Paul, who jointly gave the tribute on Monday.