Remembering how Doug Atwell helped youth in Weston to become ‘Mr Sport’
PUBLISHED: 18:21 07 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:35 07 October 2019
Back in May, St George Easton-in-Gordano were up against Weston Town in the Weston & District League’s Atwell Shield final.
The game had just entered stoppage time when Joe Crutchley popped up to score the winner to give Division One St George E-in-G the trophy named after former chairman and previous referee's appointment secretary Doug Atwell.
Despite his death at the age of 63 in 1982, Atwell is still fondly remembered by the League.
After moving to Weston from Bristol in 1950, the town was more into rugby than football, but as Jackie Atwell remembers Doug made strides to help the younger generation.
"He started with the youth on the Saturday morning, he filled the car with the children and would take them all down," she said.
"I don't know if you realise what people do at the time, but he did a lot."
Doug's son Paul echoes Jackie sentiments, adding: "He certainly helped with the Youth Leagues in North Somerset and Weston, I don't think there was any Youth Leagues until the 1960s and 70s when he started them up."
Paul was the youngest of three sons to Doug and Jackie after Mike and John and says he has fond memories of growing up.
"He was a very good dad, a lovely family and memories all around sport," he added.
"He was involved in everything, the Football League, refereeing, local sports council, cricket festival at Clarence Park, where Somerset used to come and play every year and he was just very well-known really in the whole area amongst all sorts of sports clubs."
Paul recalled a story his Dad told him as captain of Winscombe, saying: "It was the early 50s and Brian Clough was doing his national service and was based at RAF Watchet down in Somerset.
"Winscombe played RAF Watchet and I'm pretty sure they played away. The score was something like 7-4 to RAF Watchet, Clough scored all seven and I think dad got a hat trick!"
Having played football for the North Somerset team until he was nearly 50, Doug was also involved with Winscombe Cricket Club as their chairman and secretary, who have named a room after him.
He was involved in setting up youth Football for the under-17s and a youth Cricket league in North Somerset.
Doug's other son John recalls a story told to him by Graham Taylor, one of the teenagers he looked after.
"I go over to the Sass Cafe every morning and there's people that go in there that used to play football when they were 15 and dad refereed them," he said.
"I was talking to someone and he said 'I remember your Dad well, he refereed me in 1972'.
"Dad refereed a game in Watchet and he took him down in a car, he was playing and Dad sent him off. He made him sit in the back of the car on the way home!"
"He was very fair," added Jackie on Doug's time while refereeing.
"If the mums and dads on the touchline were shouting, he used to stop the game and go and tell the parents to quiet it a bit. There were people very fond of him and respected him.
"They listened to what he had to say because he was in a lot of things. He must have been an influence on quite a number of people.
"I have spoken to younger boys who said he's refereed me, he was very good and always had a smile."
In his spare time Doug was involved as a church warden at St Paul's church in Kewstoke, where there is a plaque in his memory.
But his time at Weston will always be remembered for one thing.
"Quite often you can just be chatting to someone and they say 'oh yeah I remember your dad, I remember him refereeing me', which is nice," added Paul.
"His life was sport," says John. "He was just Mr Sport. Everyone knew my dad. He did everything for the young kids as well.
"He helped all the youth in football and cricket and everyone knows him as Mr Football and Mr Cricket.
"Everyone misses him and no one will forget him."
It is during this stage in the Weston & District League's season when the opening round of fixtures are being played in the Atwell Shield, named after Doug by the Glider Pilot Regiment.
But his name will continue to inspire the next generation, just as he did all those years ago.
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