Stalwart Varney steps down after 52 years with football league

STEADY EDDIE -- stalwart Eddie Varney receives an award from former Hucknall councillor Nellie Smedley (Lab) when he was enlisted on to Notts County Council's roll of honour in 2005 for his service to local sport.
STEADY EDDIE -- stalwart Eddie Varney receives an award from former Hucknall councillor Nellie Smedley (Lab) when he was enlisted on to Notts County Council's roll of honour in 2005 for his service to local sport.
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One of the longest-serving, most dedicated servants of local football in the Dispatch district and the rest of Nottinghamshire is to retire from his main post.

Eddie Varney has been involved with the Notts Combination -- which originated in Bulwell and is the oldest amateur football league in England -- for more than 52 years.

But now, at the age of 83, he is to step down from the position of secretary that he has held since 1971.

The hugely-respected Varney, who also served on various Notts FA committees between 1974 and 2000, said this week:

“Next to my family, local football, and particularly the Notts Combination, has occupied the best part of my adult life. So I would like to thank everyone for their support over the years.

“I know I will miss the day-to-day involvement, but no one person is bigger or more important than this league.

“I believe it is in the best interests of the league that a younger person takes over the reins. I will give all the time it takes to assist the new secretary.”

The search is now on for Varney’s replacement -- hopefully before the Combination’s annual general meeting on 24th June.

No-one from the current management committee is willing to step up to the plate, so the league has launched an appeal for volunteers. Anyone interested should contact Varney at edwin916@btinternet.com

The Notts Combination dates back to 1895 when it launched as the Bulwell and District League. It reformed as a Saturday league in 1950, with former Football League referee George Tedds at the helm as secretary, and changed its name in 1965.

Varney was elected to the league’s management committee two years later, and became secretary when Tedds died 43 years ago.

The league thrived and launched a Sunday section in 1980. But 12 years later its declining Saturday section was disbanded. Today, it is a Sundays-only league, comprising four divisions.

Varney’s own involvement with local football dates back to 1945 when, as a 14-year-old schoolboy, he formed a club known as Whitemoor Athletic.

He later played for Raleigh Athletic and Notts Olympic before joining Calverton Miners Welfare in 1961.

When appointed secretary of Calverton a year later, he entered them into the Bulwell League (Combination) and stayed with the club for 25 years, serving also as chairman and treasurer.

In 2005, Varney was entered on Notts County Council’s sporting roll of honour to mark 60 years of service to local football. He has also received long-service certificates from the national FA and Notts FA.

The Dispatch’s former editor, Richard Silverwood, worked with Varney for a spell as Combination Press officer in the 1980s.

“They don’t make them like Eddie Varney any more,” said Silverwood. “His dedication to the Combination and to local football has been remarkable.”