'Volunteer of the year' in line for Wembley award

Bill Taylor

A man who has dedicated his time to grassroots football for over three decades will be honoured by the Football Association at Wembley this weekend.

Bill Taylor will receive the Volunteer of the Year award before this Sunday's Community Shield in recognition for over 30 years service with Lenham Wanderers FC and, more recently, the Maidstone Boys Primary League.

Bill's long association with grassroots football began in 1976 when his sons joined the cubs, as Club Website found out when we caught up with him this week.

"Their troupe wanted to go into a football competition and they had no-one to organise a team for them," said Bill. "Then my son started playing for Lenham Wanderers when the under 12s started in the village, so I got involved as a team manager then."

Since then, Bill has been a driving force behind the club, filling many roles - "Team manager, chairman, fund-raiser, treasurer. You name it, I’ve done it!" he says - including 20 years as club chairman.

During this time, Bill has led the way on many developments at the club, including the building of new changing rooms, which has seen a transformation since the time he joined the club.

“They had no changing facilities, just an old garden shed that was full of holes and it was terrible. I set myself a target to get some decent changing facilities for them.

"Lenham Wanderers logoOver the years we raised sufficient funds and we’ve now got purpose-built facilities with showers, toilets, kitchen, the lot!"

Still involved today as Club Treasurer, Bill has also written the club's rules, constitution and new five-year plan, which he hopes will see the club further improve their existing facilities and, in the longer term, "increase the playing area" with a couple more pitches "to save us renting pitches elsewhere."

As well as his club duties, Bill also holds a prominent role as League Secretary and website administrator for the Maidstone Boys Primary League, where he has been involved since 1999.

In that time, Bill has been instrumental in introducing new initiatives and policies to the league, including a guidance booklet for referees and a code of conduct for all clubs to address poor touchline behaviour in the league. Sound familiar?

"I wrote to Sir Trevor Brooking in 2004 when, because of discipline and touchline misbehaviour, we adopted a zero-tolerance policy that I wrote up. I might be totally wrong, but I think that’s where the FA’s Respect Programme started from."

"I have a sneaky feeling the FA got behind it and said 'Right, this is the starting stone. Let’s build on from here.'  That’s my personal view."

Maidstone Boys Primary League logoWhether managing youth teams, fundraising, renovating changing rooms or drafting policy documents that are ahead of their time, Bill's influence on grassroots football in Kent has been huge.

Lee Suter of the Kent County FA told Club Website: “It is fantastic that Bill has been recognised for his tremendous service to the game by The FA.

"As a County FA we are very proud of his achievements and truly appreciate all that he has done to develop grassroots football in Kent”.

As his Wembley date approaches, Bill could be forgiven for taking it easy and relaxing in preparation for the big day, but far from it. True to form, he is busy trying to organise a coach for members of Lenham Wanderers to travel to Wembley together.

"It'll be a great day out," he says. And one that is fully deserved.

Many congratulations to Bill from all the team at Club Website. We hope that you thoroughly enjoy the day.

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