Final salute for Non-League's finest

The fans, players and officials of Staines Town are planning to pay a colour themed final tribute to Graham Gould at the funeral of their award-winning groundsman.

Widely acknowledged as one of the best groundsmen in Non-League football and involved with the Ryman Premier club since the 1970s, the father-of-two passed away peacefully at home on Saturday 28 May aged 65 after first becoming ill last summer and sadly taking a turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago.

In a statement on Sunday announcing details of his funeral at Hanworth Crematorium at 10am on Friday 16 June, club officials asked mourners to wear either Staines Town ties or pink ones, their late groundsmen’s personal favourite. Fittingly, the funeral cortege will leave from Wheatsheaf Park at 9.30am.

Pictured being presented with the Isthmian League runners-up trophy in 2009 by late Staines Town chairman Alan Boon and with the Football Association’s 2015 Groundsman of the Year Award by his son Matthew, the club's current chairman, below, the stalwart had still been attending matches until the end of the season with his family who’ve also been heavily involved at the club for decades, grown-up daughters Julie and Tina and Margaret, his wife of 48 years who's laundered the Swans kit for the last 22 years.

A former vice-president before the position was abolished and vice-chairman, Mr Gould took over responsibility for the playing surface in 1991 before going on to win many accolades for his work including his finest moment and highest honour, collecting the FA’s coveted winners trophy at Football Conference level in 2015 as Non-League’s top groundsmen.

Born in West Germany as the son of a military family and a draysmen for much of his working life who loved working with horses, as well his national honours, Mr Gould also holds the record for winning Staines Town’s 'Clubman of the Year' award on no less than six occasions as well as other club honours including the Cliff Lane Award and annual Stewards Award.

A Staines Town spokesman said: "Staines Town Football Club extends its deepest sympathies to Margaret and all of Graham’s family members, and the very many friends of this thoroughly likeable man. Male mourners are asked to wear either Staines Town FC ties, or pink ones, as this was Graham’s favourite tie.

Images courtesy of stainestownfootballclub.co.uk

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