It is with great sadness that the KSFA announces the death of its President, Tony French, who had been involved in schools’ football in Kent for over forty years.
Tony was born in Colchester in 1930, and attended Colchester Royal Grammar School. Following National Service with the Royal Armoured Corps, he entered Goldsmiths College in The University of London in 1951 – some 35 years later, Goldsmiths would be the location of Tony being installed as Chairman of the English Schools FA for the 1986-87 season.
Tony’s first teaching post was at Northumberland Heath Secondary Modern School for Boys in Erith, and subsequently he moved to Slade Green Secondary School, which was later renamed Howbury Grange. In 1969 he was elected Secretary of North Kent SFA and to the Committee of what was then the Kent Schools’ Football Federation. In 1972, after the successful merger of the Kent Schools’ Football Federation with the Kent Senior Schools FA to become the Kent Schools FA, he was elected Secretary of the new organisation. He was instrumental in expanding the County’s range of inter-school competitions and in increasing the commitments of the County representative teams. When the late Harry White, a much respected stalwart of Kent and English Schools’ Football, retired from the ESFA Council in 1976, Tony was chosen by colleagues in Kent, Surrey and Sussex to replace him. In the same year, he was co-opted as the KSFA representative on the Council of the Kent County FA, and did much to cement the excellent relationship that has always existed between the two bodies.
During his time on ESFA Council, Tony laid the foundations for the very successful small-sided competitions that now feature so prominently in the national calendar. He was also involved with the Under 19 Skegness Festivals and was an Under 15 Selector. He was a very respected and popular Chairman of the ESFA in the 1986-87 season.
Tony retired from teaching and from the ESFA Council in 1991, but remained involved with schools’ football as President of Kent Schools’ FA and Treasurer of North Kent Schools’ FA. He also continued to serve as a Council Member of the Kent County FA, and was elected a Vice-President in 2001. He remained active in various administrative capacities in local football.
Outside school sport, Tony’s great love was choral singing. He was for many years Secretary of an excellent choir that made regular broadcasts and concert hall appearances. He was also passionate about chess.
The support of his family was always crucial to Tony. His wife June took a keen interest in football – laundering kit, serving teas from her travelling urn, selling programmes and raffle tickets, addressing envelopes and all of the other unsung but vital tasks that characterise grassroots football. The KSFA extends its deepest sympathy to June and her family, and share with them the loss of a man who did much to make the Association the strong organisation that it is today.