9:30am Thursday 3rd October 2013
Oxford City secretary John Shepperd will be honoured at Buckingham Palace on Monday for his outstanding contribution to football, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.
The 78-year-old will be presented with his award by the Duke of Cambridge, who has organised the event in his role as president of the Football Association to mark its 150th anniversary.
Shepperd, who is in his 38th year as City secretary, is among 150 ‘grassroots heroes’ to be recognised at the event, which pays tribute to volunteers who have made a particular contribution to the game.
The Palace is also staging a match between Civil Service and Polytechnic, two of the oldest amateur football clubs.
“I was really pleasantly surprised to receive the invitation,” said Shepperd.
“I do feel very humbled and honoured to be selected from all the people who take part in non-league football.”
Having taken up the role in 1975 Shepperd has experienced highs and lows at the club – eviction from the White House Ground in 1988 to a Wembley appearance in the FA Vase final in 1995.
He said: “I remember us losing the White House Ground and we couldn’t see a way forward at that stage, but thankfully the club restarted.
“They were very unpleasant days, but fortunately we moved on very quickly.
“Reaching the FA Vase final at Wembley was a real highlight because lots of clubs and players have never had the chance to play there.”
More used to working in the background, Shepperd admitted he found it unusual to be in the limelight, but that it was nice to know that his efforts have been acknowledged. “I don’t think too many people realise what has to go on behind the scenes,” he added.
“It’s virtually a seven-day-a-week job.”
Shepperd will be visiting Buckingham Palace for the first time and is looking forward to a fantastic day.
He said: “My son’s accompanying me and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“I should see lots of old faces that I recognise as I’ve made lots of friends in football over the years.
“It’s been the joy of my life.”
Other club volunteers attending include Andrew Cassettari (Garden City), Shirley Johnson (Launton Ladies) and Paula Wynn (Kidlington Youth), who will be present as representatives of the Oxfordshire FA.
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