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Ray Greenwood: BSCFC's 'go to' football coach who took hundreds of boys and girls under his coaching wing and who developed the person as much as the player

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The funeral will take place on Monday (August 2) of a man known throughout the Bishop's Stortford football community for his coaching skills and passion for the game.

Ray Greenwood died suddenly at the end of June. He was 64. He leaves his two sons, Nick and Bert.

The church where his 11am funeral service and burial will take place is still operating at a significantly reduced capacity, but friends can show their respects to Ray when his funeral cortège passes through Birchwood High School’s car park in Parsonage Lane on Monday between 9.30am and 10am.

Red and Rod: Manchester United fan Ray Greenwood with Sir Rod Stewart (49675745)
Red and Rod: Manchester United fan Ray Greenwood with Sir Rod Stewart (49675745)

Given Ray’s lifelong support of Manchester United, the family have asked that people wear at least one red item.

Ray gained a reputation as the "go to" coach at Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club (BSCFC) and helped bring the beautiful game to children who might never have had the chance to play it.

Before becoming involved in football, he ran a wholesale import and export tool business based near Epping.

He played football to a good standard in his youth and became interested in coaching when his sons began playing for local teams.

Ray started his football coaching qualifications and eventually moved over to coaching full-time, beginning with a role at Leyton Orient FC’s community sports project while also managing both of his sons’ teams.

He moved with his family from Epping to Stortford in 2001 and approached the then Bishop’s Stortford Youth FC with an offer to bring over two teams that he managed. He offered to help the club with coaching and, knowing of his work with Leyton Orient, the offer was gratefully accepted. A year later, BSCFC was formed from clubs in the town.

The legacy clubs pooled their money towards community-based activities, one of which was to provide football coaching at St Elizabeth’s, the centre at Perry Green for people with epilepsy and other complex needs, and Ray volunteered for this.

Close friend and BSCFC director Alan Hazell said that St Elizabeth's was so impressed that it employed Ray for the next decade. Ray’s proudest day was always the Bishop’s Stortford Inclusion Cup Final, in May each year, when a team from St Elizabeth’s took on a team from Hft – the former Home Farm Trust – or Care By Me at Bishop's Stortford FC's stadium, and received trophies and a cup at the end of the match.

"Meanwhile, Ray was gaining a reputation as a 'go to' coach for teams within BSCFC," said Alan. "More and more teams requested that he train their team. Over the past 10-15 years around 100 teams have been coached by Ray, from under-12 through to under-18.

"Last season 17 different squads were coached by Ray, from U9 girls through to U18 boys. All abilities, it didn’t matter to Ray – each was encouraged to achieve their best. It was about developing the person as much as the player."

Ray coached and managed teams that won the Herts County Cup, EJA (Eastern Junior Alliance) Division and overall EJA Championship and the Royston Crow league and cup. Many players from this squad played for Bishop's Stortford's first team in the Conference South.

One of their greatest achievements was reaching the second round of the FA Youth Cup, where they lost narrowly to MK Dons away.

Alan revealed that in addition to his role as head coach for U12-U18 teams, over the past few years Ray ran BSCFC’s girls' development centre on Sundays, with the brief to get as many girls into football as want to play. Next season, BSCFC will be running girls' teams from U9 to U18 as well as a ladies' side.

"Always the first to volunteer, Ray also ran the café at Friedberg Avenue and was as cheery flipping burgers as he was coaching the many hundreds of boys and girls that had the privilege to be coached by him," said Alan.

"Ray will be sorely missed by all that had the pleasure to know him, but his legacy will carry on."

In a tribute to his work with BSCFC, the club's café, unofficially known as the Blues Café, will be renamed Ray's Café.

Grant Hegley, chairman of BSCFC, said: "We would like to thank all those that have taken the time to express and pass on their heartfelt condolences on the tragic loss of Ray. He will live long in all of our memories."

Sons Nick and Bert would like to keep flowers at the funeral to family only. Anyone who wishes to make a donation to one of their selected charities can do so online via South Street funeral director Daniel Robinson & Sons at www.drobinson.co.uk/donate-in-memory/. You can leave a tribute to Ray at forevermissed.com/ray-greenwood/about.

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