THE local football community is in a state of shock following the sudden death of long-serving Mexborough Sunday League secretary Steve Venables.
The dedicated official passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning at the age of 57. He is survived by wife Carole and son Craig.
Two minute silences were held at all Sunday League games last weekend as a mark of respect for Mr Venables.
Matches went ahead with the blessing of his son Craig, who turned out for Premier Division title contenders Woodman Inn Swinton on the day.
League chairman Martin Birley said: “We considered cancelling the games but we decided Steve would have wanted them to go on.
“Everyone is in such a state of shock because this was so unexpected. It was a massive bombshell.
“He missed a secretaries meeting last week because he was ill but it only seemed to be a bug.
“I dropped some papers off at his house on Friday and saw him. He stayed away from me because he didn’t want to pass on what he’d got.
“You wouldn’t have thought it was anything really serious.
“I’m just completely numb, I can’t believe what has happened.
“He was a great man and a great friend.”
Mexborough-born Mr Venables became a referee in 1980, rising through the ranks to become an official in the Northern Premier League.
Family and work commitments saw him take a step back on refereeing, and his relationship with the Mexborough League soon began.
He took over as fixtures and officials secretary in 1984 before becoming general secretary in 1999 and also treasurer in 2008.
In 2000, Mr Venables became a full member of the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA council and was also on the county cups committee.
He was part of the Montagu Cup organising committee and also helped administrate other competitions not affiliated with the Mexborough League, including the George Jowett Memorial Trophy and the Wath and West Melton OAP Charity Cup.
All this time, Mr Venables continued to referee at a local level.
Mr Venables had worked closely with the Times over the past few years to develop this paper’s coverage of the league, a process which included the introduction of the golden boot competition. All at the newspaper send their condolences to his family.
Chairman Birley added: “He was Mr Mexborough Sunday League, you could not have wished to meet a more dedicated man.
“There was no ‘can do’ with Steve, it was all ‘will do.’
“He was getting phone calls at all hours of the day and night and he’d be dealing with them all.
“There is no way the Mexborough League would be in the position it is in today without Steve’s hard work and dedication.
“It’s going to take several people to fill the role he had.
“He’ll be sadly missed.”
Details of Mr Venables’ funeral had not been announced as the Times went to press but will be published on our website when finalised.