TRIBUTES have poured in following the death of a stalwart of Oxfordshire youth football.

Steve Simmonds, who died on Wednesday aged 71, was secretary of the Oxford Mail Youth League (OMYL) for more than 20 years, before stepping down in 2017.

He was involved in the county’s youth football scene from 1983, working alongside wife Mary for decades, and spent 16 years as an Oxfordshire FA director from 2001.

Mr Simmonds was involved with Kidlington Youth FC for many years, including a spell as chairman, overseeing the development of hundreds of young players.

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Across more than three decades he built a reputation as a fountain of football knowledge, according to Paul Lyon, the OMYL’s fixtures secretary, who knew Mr Simmonds for several years.

Mr Lyon said: “Steve knew everything about football.

“Everyone would go to him if they didn’t understand something about the rules of the game.

“He always had an answer. When he left there was a big hole, as nobody had the knowledge he had.”

Mr Simmonds lived a goal kick from Kidlington Youth’s Evans Way home and first helped out when his son joined the village side, before spending time as a coach and then chairman.

During that time, a young Callum O’Dowda, the ex-Oxford United winger now with Championship side Bristol City, played for the club.

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While at Kidlington, he joined the committee for the OMYL in 1995 and became secretary shortly after.

His wife is an honorary life member of the league and Mr Lyon, from Cumnor, called the pair a ‘double act’.

He added: “Steve was a major player in expanding the Oxford Mail Youth League into one of the biggest regionalised leagues in the country.

“He worked so hard behind the scenes but never made a song and dance about it.

“He went to every presentation and awards ceremony.”

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Mr Simmonds joined the Oxfordshire FA in 2000 and was an influential figure until he retired from all footballing commitments in 2017.

He ran youth competitions and even had the Steve Simmonds OFA Under 14 County Cup named after him.

Ian Mason, CEO of Oxfordshire FA, said: “He was well-respected, honest and selfless.

“He was always happy to help and in 17 years I never saw him have an argument.

"No-one had a bad word to say about him."

Mr Simmonds was a former researcher at Oxford University who had been ill for ‘a long time’, according to Mr Lyon.

He said: “He retired from football to spend more time with his grand-daughter, but he became ill soon after.

"It's very sad that he didn’t get a chance to enjoy his retirement properly.”

The date of Mr Simmonds's funeral is not yet known.