Tributes paid to well known football ref

Referee Colin Heeley collapsed and died on the pitch.
Referee Colin Heeley collapsed and died on the pitch.

Tributes have poured in for a much loved football referee who collapsed and died half an hour into a match.

Players and onlookers had rushed to the aid of 78-year-old Colin Heeley, a referee in the Heavy Woollen Sunday League who was a familiar face to many Morley footballers, after he fell ill after refereeing just 30 minutes of a game on Saturday, April 5.

The match was abandoned when Mr Heeley’s condition worsened. Players and spectators battled to save him, giving him CPR and mouth-to-mouth as they awaited the emergency services. He died of a heart attack.

Wife Pauline paid tribute to her husband, who had been officiating football and cricket matches for more than 35 years, saying he was “absolutely dedicated” to his sport.

“Unless somebody else stopped him, he would never have given up – he just loved it so much.”

Mr Heeley, who was still working as a motor accident repair specialist, registered as a referee in 1973, officiating in the Spen Valley League and Heavy Woollen League, where he oversaw most of the cup finals in his time.

Gary Scott, Heavy Woollen referees appointments secretary, said: “He was loved by a lot of the lads and colleagues.

“The fact he was refereeing until he was 78 speaks of his love for the game. He was a fantastic servant to the referees’ association.” A series of one minute silences were planned for local games over the coming week.