Indies awards: 69-year-old football referee King Kenny is Sports Personality winner
Veteran football referee Kenny Ward showed his softer side at the inaugural Indies - the Bishop's Stortford Independent Community, Business and Sport Awards - and was shocked to win the Sports Personality trophy.
The retired butcher’s and fish and chip shop worker has been in charge of more than 3,500 games over the past 35 years and even had to cancel a refereeing job in Manuden to attend the awards ceremony at the Manor of Groves in High Wych on Thursday November 8.
Kenny started officiating in the early 1980s when injury cut short his playing career. He had made more than 500 appearances for Stortford club Heath Rovers.
Almost anyone who has played Saturday or Sunday park football in the Bishop’s Stortford area in the past three-and-a-half decades will have been refereed by Kenny. He has overseen matches in a number of Hertfordshire, Essex and London leagues.
The 69-year-old lifelong Stortford resident, of Ward Crescent, and erstwhile Elvis impersonator was handed a case of beer, along with his trophy, to toast his victory by category sponsor Tees Law group managing director Ashton Hunt.
Visibly moved, Kenny told the Indie: “It was a huge surprise but I’m very happy.
“People getting other awards have done more than I have so I was shocked to win – and I’m very glad I came.”
He said that it would be at least another five years before he hangs up his whistle.
Greg Sambridge, of Thorley Park, was highly commended in the category for his work with young footballers in the town.
The married father of three gave up his career as a contracts manager in the leisure industry to start Thorley Manor FC in September 2016.
He now runs five sessions a week with 100 children and has six Sunday teams, ranging from under-8s to under-11s, playing in Hertfordshire leagues.