Devoted Harrogate football coach nominated for FA’s People Award

Joe Billington (s)
Joe Billington (s)

A Harrogate man who has devoted his life to building grassroots football in the district could be honoured by the FA with a national award.

Joe Billington, 74, first became involved in local football playing for local club in Merseyside at the age of 14 before moving to Harrogate in 1976.

Since then, Joe has worked as a manager, coach and treasurer at Pannal Sports as well as acting as a treasurer for the Knaresborough Sunday League, Harrogate and District Junior League and a member of the FA.

Joe has also spearheaded local campaigns to supply kit to under-privileged children in Africa, personally donating large amounts to help less well-off children enjoy The Beautiful Game.

His continuing contributions to football have already been recognised at a county and regional level but he is now aiming to secure the National Award for Outstanding Contribution to Community Football.

Despite the prestigious nomination, Joe insisted that the award would be more of a positive reflection on Pannal Sports, who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, than a personal achievement.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned it’s an honour for the club and the people who are keen enough to be involved with the teams here. Personally it would not have bothered me if nobody had nominated me.

“People have been kind enough to provide me with the opportunity to play as a youngster so I have been involved with grassroots football since then.

“It’s a certain satisfaction when you see the lads and the club grow, we have got 20 odd teams playing and we have watched it grow over the years.

“One of my biggest enjoyments is the satisfaction of watching the lads who played as juniors, move to the seniors who then become managers and coaches of the junior sides where their children play.”