Although they were unknown to each other at the time, Brian Stevenson played for Surrey Schoolboys against Kent Schoolboys in a match at Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace, in the winter of 1954 and Derek Hodge was part of the Kent side. The scores ended at five apiece.
Some 25 years later when Derek was already a member of the Sevenoaks and District Football League Council, Brian was elected to the board representing Sevenoaks Weald FC.
Prior to one of their monthly meetings and during conversation it transpired that they had played schoolboy football against each other. As so often a remark in football and life in general, proves that it is a small world.
They were both secretaries of their respective clubs, Brian with Sevenoaks Weald FC and Derek with Wilderpark FC. For whatever reason matches between the two clubs were always feisty encounters but they never impacted on their friendship.
It was with Sevenoaks Weald where Brian spent so much of his time supporting and promoting his local team. As Secretary he epitomised how difficult it is running a local village side initially as a player in his early days and then performing so many duties – unlike a player who turns up on match days, plays 90 minutes football and then disappears until the next match day.
It has often been said that if one takes a glance at the secretary’s name one always links that name with a club as opposed to the other way around. No one is indispensable in life but a club secretary is so very important for the running and success of a club.
Brian had been brought up in Reigate, Surrey with his parents, married Freda and continued to live in Reigate for a short time, before moving to Tonbridge and then subsequently to Sevenoaks, Weald.
Brian’s daughter Lisa recalls some early family memories: “I remember listening avidly to the football scores every Saturday afternoon and having to try and keep up with the commentator as he read the scores out, recording them in the paper so that Dad could see them when he got home from football! I also remember my sisters and I having a bottle of something soft and a bag of crisps in the pub after matches on many an occasion, something my daughters then did with Grandad many years later!”
All round community nice guy
The Sevenoaks and District Football League were very fortunate that Brian served them for so many years. The back bone of the Council was consistency of members with very few changes in personnel. Brian always supported the various Cup finals invariably played at Greatness Park as it was known then, helping with administrative duties.
Likewise, there were other occasions such as presentation evenings and league anniversaries. Brian had an excellent attendance record at monthly meetings and even last season whenever he could, he would attend a meeting or watch a Weald football match from a chair on the sidelines with the help of a colleague.
Brian served other areas of the Community in the form of the Round Table and then progressing to the Rotary Club of Sevenoaks for many years. A very dedicated member. He was also a committed member of his local church and served as Chair of Governors at the village school.
Together with his support of local football (both adult and junior levels), Round Table and Rotary Club, where he served as President in 2005, it showed how committed Brian was to the local Community. He also qualified as a referee and would always act as a club linesman – not an easy task.
Brian will be remembered for his friendly smile, his non-confrontational attitude and a wonderful family man who will be very much missed.