FOOTBALL: Tributes paid to ‘Mr Holbeach United’

Holbeach legend: Bryan Stamp in his playing days and (below) with former England international Paul Merson at the Tigers' 80th anniversary in 2009.
Holbeach legend: Bryan Stamp in his playing days and (below) with former England international Paul Merson at the Tigers' 80th anniversary in 2009.

“A SCHOLAR and a gentleman” and “Mr Holbeach United” are just two of the tributes being paid to Bryan Stamp, who died aged 79 on Saturday.

Bryan passed away at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital after losing a battle with cancer.

Bryan Stamp with ex-professional footballer turned Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson at Holbeach United's 80th anniversary celebrations.

Bryan Stamp with ex-professional footballer turned Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson at Holbeach United's 80th anniversary celebrations.

He retired from the club in April 2006 after 55 years at Carter’s Park in many roles, including player, physio, Reserves manager and, for 23 years, fixtures and registration secretary.

A minute’s silence was held in his honour before Tuesday’s friendly win over Louth Town and will also be observed at Spalding United’s game with Boston United on Saturday.

Close friend and current Holbeach vice chairman Ian Abrams – who succeeded him as fixtures and registration secretary – admits that Bryan was one of a kind.

He said: “Where do I start? Bryan was a real gentleman and well respected by everybody he met.

“He was very, very well regarded by everyone in the South Holland sporting scene and in the United Counties League, of which he was a life member.

“I can’t ever recall him sounding off at anyone, he was incredibly honest and such a kind man.

“Even when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he didn’t moan or complain, he just shrugged his shoulders and got on with it.

“We’ve had tributes from all over the place, even as far as Burton Park Wanderers, which just goes to show the measure of the man.

“He always used to say to me that I was a scholar and a gentleman. I always found that ironic, as it summed him up perfectly.”

Born in Holbeach on March 1, 1932, Bryan attended Holbeach Boys’ School before leaving as a 14-year-old in 1946.

It was then that his love affair with the Tigers began. Playing as an outside left (left winger), he featured for Fleet United before joining Holbeach United ‘A’.

At 16 he progressed to the Tigers’ Reserve side – and even enjoyed a trial with Aston Villa – before making his first team debut in 1950.

Ten devoted years followed, during which time he won UCL runners-up medal in 1954/55, before a back injury suffered at Bury St Edmunds in 1960 forced him to retire.

Following a four-year sabbatical from the club, Bryan returned as Reserve team boss.

A five-year stint as physio followed in 1965, before a second spell as second string supremo began in 1970.

Then came his near quarter-century spell as fixtures and registration secretary, which he eventually relinquished five years ago.

Bryan listed an FA Cup goal against King’s Lynn in 1952/53 and playing in front of a record 4,134 crowd at Carter’s Park against Wisbech Town as his favourite career memories. He was also among the 4,000 people to see Holbeach play Wrexham in the first round proper of the FA Cup in 1981/82.

Upon his retirement from the club, Bryan said: “There will be a certain amount of sadness for me because Holbeach United has been like a second home to me.

“I’m sure that’s what my wife (Christine) thinks anyway!”

For most people associated with Holbeach, Carter’s Park won’t seem quite as homely without Bryan by their side.

TRIBUTES

“Bryan was a true home grown talent who gave so much commitment to Holbeach United over the years as a player, committee member and loyal supporter.

“He was a true friend of all at Holbeach United and offered much encouragement to all players at the club from the youngest to the oldest.

“A valuable member of our club who will be sorely missed by all.”

Holbeach United player and former manager Shaun Keeble

“In my 11 years coaching there I can honestly say it was always a pleasure to be in his company, he was a true gent and definitely Mr Holbeach United.”

Former Holbeach United Youth chairman Pete Boekestyn

“A true gentleman, will be missed massively.”

Holbeach United player Matt Warfield on Twitter

“Gutted for the family, a lovely bloke.”

Former Tiger and current Spalding Utd player/coach Danny Hussey on Twitter

“Condolences go out to Bryan Stamp’s family and everyone associated at Holbeach. A true gent will be sadly missed. A real Holbeach legend.”

Former Tiger and current Pinchbeck United player/manager Ian Dunn on Twitter

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