Tributes paid to beloved St Albans football figure
- Credit: Photo supplied
An outpouring of grief has followed the death of a man who was instrumental in building many community football projects across St Albans.
St Albans City Youth Community Football Club has announced “with great sadness” that David Wray “slipped away peacefully during the early hours of Tuesday morning [September 27] surrounded by his family.
“David’s enthusiasm and dedication enriched the lives of many people during his years with St Albans City Youth FC, the wider Hertfordshire football family and within the community; he will be sadly missed by all.”
David, 61, was well known across the district and throughout the county for his tireless work within and outside of the club, promoting football and encouraging younger generations through various programmes, including coaching.
Long-time friend Mervyn Morgan said he had known David “for over 30 years. We started at City Youth on the same day, and David was responsible for all the community type programmes, including the young coaches’ programme.
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“David nurtured the kids through these – he also took the lead on the club’s holiday coaching sessions.”
Programmes were also set up county-wide, which were kicked off by David, whose career at the club included roles as manager and coach of a youth football team in the 1980s, and trustee.
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Mervyn, a fellow City Youth FC trustee, said: “My heart goes out to David’s wife Lesley and family for their loss. St Albans and Hertfordshire have lost a true sporting hero; I have lost a great friend.
“David had achieved so much in his 61 years, but he was planning to do so much more before being taken from us.
“However, his legacy will live on thanks to the work of the hundreds of young coaches who have David to thank for their start in sport.”
During matches last weekend, 80 teams either held a minute’s silence or applause “for the great man”.
Mervyn, who was at Clarence Park when a minute’s applause was held during a St Albans City FC and Worthing FC match on Saturday (1), said one of David’s daughters told him, “I didn’t realise my dad was famous”.
On the youth club’s Facebook page, hundreds of people have expressed their sadness, with one man posting, “Dave was a true role model for us all. His enthusiasm was infectious, his passion remarkable and the opportunities he provided to the younger generations simply amazing. He will be seriously missed, but always remembered.”
Another man posted condolences from Welwyn Garden City Youth FC, saying that he met him during a Herts FA coaching conference “and he was a warm, engaging character ... he will be sorely missed.”
One woman credited him for “starting my love for football, and that will last a lifetime”.
Lawrence Levy, co-owner of the Saints, said that David was also instrumental in delivering programmes at local schools, to promote healthy lifestyles among youngsters.
He said that David’s dedication to City Youth FC, and “his contribution to the St Albans City footballing family was immeasurable and spanned over 30 years.
“David was unselfish, enthusiastic and invariably good natured, and will be missed by so many people.”
• For information on funeral arrangements, please see the club’s Facebook page. Donations are welcome to a charity close to David’s heart, Special Olympics in St Albans click here.