FOOTBALL in Worksop lost a legend this week, with the untimely passing of referee Keith Goulding.
The charismatic man in black dished out an incredible 1,200 bookings in his career as an official, before his death on Tuesday.
A fitness fanatic, Mr Goulding had gone for a run in Clumber Park after telling wife Jennifer he would be back for lunch.
But he collapsed 200 yards from his car and police told Mrs Goulding that witnesses called an ambulance, but it was too late.
The 64-year-old was well known in Bassetlaw for his service to the Worksop Referees Association, Worksop Sunday League, Sheffield and Hallamshire FA and schools football.
His passing has not only left a ‘huge hole’ in local sport, but in his family.
Mrs Goulding told the Guardian: “He was running through Clumber and a couple saw him go down, and they got an ambulance but it was too late. I think it was probably his heart, although he never complained about it.”
“He had a quadruple bypass eight years ago and they had sorted him out. He was always trying to keep fit, always going out for runs and refereeing.”
“We had gone to the garden centre at Tickhill that morning for a cup of tea and when we got home he said he would see me in an hour and asked me to have a sandwich ready for him.”
“He was a hard man, very straight, but if anyone was in trouble he would be the first to help. He would have given you his last penny.”
Mr Goulding, who would have celebrated 42 years of marriage this month, is survived by his sons Paul and Karl, and had two granddaughters.
Born in Wigan, he moved to Worksop as a seven-year-old and attended St John’s Boys school and Bentinck Secondary – where he met Jennifer – before working for the Water Board, a knitting factory and Albion Mills.
One of his passions was gardening – and over the last 12 years he built up his own business.
He was also a keen runner, taking part in four London Marathons and races in Nottingham, Lincoln and even Majorca.
But his real love was the beautiful game, a sport that he took a meticulous approach to.
Mrs Goulding revealed: “He kept a record of every game he had done, and how many bookings he had made in his career. It was 1,200.”
Good friend and former English Schools football Association chairman Jack Tarr said local football would struggle to ever find someone to fill his boots.
“It’s unbelieveable, really hard to take in,” he said.
“I knew him 20 or 30 years, he was a player, a manager and a referee and he was reknowned in the Sunday League for dishing out bookings.”
“But he was brilliant for schools football. He would do games for me at the drop of a hat and he never, ever asked for a penny.”
“He will leave a huge hole in Worksop football.”
Sunday League secretary Dave Crisp added his, and the league’s condolences, having enjoyed Mr Goulding’s company on Monday night at a referees quiz.
“He seemed okay, and then I got a call to say he’s passed away. It’s a shock, I used to travel to Sheffield with him all the time and now he’s gone.”
“The commitment and work he put in, he was always available and if anyone had a problem he’d help out.”
“He was just getting into assessing referees and enjoying it. It’s a loss to us all.”
James Hope-Gill, chief executive of Sheffield and Hallamshire FA described Mr Goulding as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for refereeing.
He said: “Everyone at the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected death of Keith Goulding.”
“He has been a fantastic ambassador for refereeing for many years with his active and current involvement as a referee, mentor and assessor as well as sitting on various committees of the County FA and the Referees Association.”
“Keith was well liked and respected across the whole of the grassroots game and will be sorely missed.”