THE sporting world of St Helens is in mourning this week following the passing of one of its favourite supporters of amateur sport, Brian Ball.

Brian is best known to cricketers in the Liverpool Competition and the former Merseyside Competition as an Umpire and to local Rugby Union players as a referee. But he was much more than that.

He was an immensely popular umpire with a great sense of humour, a wonderful singing voice with which he frequently regaled clubhouse audiences post-match and a brilliant ability to laugh with everyone when he didn’t quite get things right! Brian operated as a club umpire for St Helens Town and Rainford as well as helping out the cricketers from the Seven Stars pub in Eccleston.

He was always happy to oblige.

Brian was also a respected Rugby Union Referee and amazingly, had not long since refereed his final match, helping out in the lower tiers of the game for as long as he could.

The outpouring of affection and messages on social media from players at West Park, Ruskin Park and Liverpool St Helens and other clubs across Merseyside and beyond is a testimony to the warmth and affection that those in local sport have for him.

LSH President Ray French said “Brian was a one-off. They simply don’t make them like him anymore.

“He umpired and reffed well past the age when he should have put his feet up, often saying that if he didn’t turn up there would be no game.”

All our thoughts and prayers are with his family.