Is Bromley football ref oldest in Britain?
PUBLISHED: 11:04 16 February 2011 | UPDATED: 11:04 16 February 2011
One of the country's oldest football referees is to celebrate his 80th birthday next month and vowed to carry on his 60-year-long hobby.
Officiating his first game after leaving the Army in 1951, Ron Newby has taken charge of hundreds of games for the Metropolitan Sunday Football League, officiating in games across Bromley.
Up until last season the Charlton fan was refereeing every Saturday and Sunday, but was forced to give up Saturday league games as his hours changed at Asda, where he still works on the check-outs.
He said: “I was always keen on football but I was never much cop. The next best thing was to take up refereeing.
“First of all I took up some lessons and I have never looked back. I see it as a sport, I’ve never wanted to take it further, I used to ref two or three times a week but due to work commitments I can only do the Sunday now.
“As long as my legs keep going I will keep refereeing. I finish the season in May and I am keen to sign up again, if they are happy to have me back of course.”
Married Mr Newby, of Meadow Walk, Wilmington, served in the Vehicle Battalion from 1949 to 1951 and is modest about his contribution to the league. He says most games were fairly uneventful except for a playing knocking him unconscious.
He added: “There was this one time, it was a good few years ago, when a player just knocked me out and I ended up in Beckenham Hospital. He just punched me on the jaw, he caught me off guard.
“Unfortunately, he was not registered or really even known to the club, he was in the area at the time and asked for a game so they allowed him to play. I went to give him a card and out of nowhere he just whacked me and then disappeared.
“You do have tough guys in the game but generally it’s all about the game and the players just get on with it.”
Mr Newby, who will be 80 years old on March 16, also played squash as a young man and still goes swimming at White Oak Leisure Centre, Swanley.
After having numerous jobs and retiring at the age of 65 he got a job at Asda as first a greeter, then on the check-outs as he wanted to carry on working.
He says his wife, Hilary, 73, has never stood in the way of his first love, adding: “She is very understanding.”
■ Do you know an older ref than Mr Newby? Call the news desk on 020 8269 7015.