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Tributes paid to Harold Hackney

16th February, 2021

The Toolstation NCEL is saddened to hear of the passing of the president of the league's Match Officials association, Harold Hackney, at the age of 91.

Harold was born in Thorne near Doncaster in 1929 but moved to Barnsley when he was five years of age where he stayed for the rest of his life and was a well-known face in the local community.

Having served in the RAF, his life as a referee began in 1949 when a match he went to did not have a match official.

Harold volunteered and that was the start of a career that saw him promoted to the Referees list of the Football League ten years later.

A severe Achilles tendon injury kept him out of action for a couple of years during the mid-1960s but he made his comeback at the end of the decade and he would go on to referee the FA Trophy Final and League Cup Semi-Final in 1973 as well as an Anglo-Italian Cup quarter-final the following year.

His final Football League game before retirement came in 1977 when he took charge of Wrexham versus Mansfield Town, a game that would see the winners promoted to the Second Division - Mansfield prevailed and Harold was greeted in the dressing room afterwards by friends who had driven up especially for the game.

Following his retirement, he continued to contribute to the game by becoming a match officials assessor (now known as observers), giving advice to up-and-coming referees in the South Yorkshire area for decades to come.

He also became president of the Association of Northern Counties East League Match Officials and would often regale members of tales of his refereeing exploits.

Away from football, Harold worked for the Co-Op, the National Coal Board and he was also a magistrate for twenty years after he took to the bench in 1979.

The time Harold devoted to helping match officials in the NCEL over the past four decades has been immeasurable and he will be greatly missed by everyone involved at the league - especially the hundreds of referees that he has helped and guided along the way.

All of our thoughts are with Harold's friends and family at this most difficult time.

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