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-= The Tributes of KEN ASTON MBE #14 =-
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“ Memories of Ken Aston "

By Margie Close

-----Original Message-----

From: Margie Close []
Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2001 9:27 AM

Subject: Ken Aston Remembrance


Thanks for doing the nice web page honoring Ken.

I would like to contribute the following:


In the summer of 1989, with one short season of AYSO refereeing under my belt, my region decided that I should attend the Ken Aston Camp. Fellow referees had been there the year before and raved about it. I happily packed my bag and headed to the Cal State Long Beach campus. To say that I was out of my league is an understatement – the camp was designed at the time for much more advanced referees than myself. But what I took away from that weekend was an experience that every referee should have been lucky enough to have – time to be in the presence of the great Ken Aston.

My overwhelming impression by the end of that weekend was of a great orator, capable of spellbinding the audience with his wit and his wisdom and his timing. He could deliver a story like only a few instructors that I have ever encountered. And his connection to The Game was unequaled by any I have met – the history and the love of soccer that emanated from him was memorable and inspiring. I wanted to be like him – the thinking referee who believes in the Spirit of the Law and of the Game; the storyteller who commands an audience with unending knowledge subtly emphasized by a well-placed pause; a caring person capable of capturing the heart of soccer and of AYSO and proffering it with passion to both the uninitiated and the veteran.

My next close encounter with Ken Aston was at Advantage ‘95. I was asked to keep company with his wife, Hilda, while we traversed the campus attending the various referee and coach clinics and forums. Much like Ken, Hilda was blessed with the gift of gab, and I heard more colorful history about the two of them, of Ken and of his affiliation with soccer. Other years of Advantage and National Games afforded me the opportunity to hear many more of Ken’s tales from the pitch. Once in a personal conversation, I told him that if he had not been a top-level referee that he should have been a Shakespearean actor. He got a laugh out of that -- and regaled me of his first experience with a television crew interviewing him and his difficulty learning the lines that they wanted him to say. He never was at a loss for his own words, but rehearsed, prepared lines came hard.

This past July, Ken and Hilda made their last AYSO appearance together at the National Games in West Point and Ken exhorted the referees grouped there to make it a “card free” Games – his ideal for soccer matches. I was honored to escort Ken and Hilda to the playing fields at West Point and took pleasure in hearing again, as he watched AYSO teams play and AYSO referees officiate, of his pride in his affiliation with AYSO and its outstanding referee program.

Ken Aston never lacked for a story – and each one offered a lesson and a moral to it.

There is a particular one that I use now when mentoring new instructors. I ask if they are nervous to do presentations in front of the group. Invariably, the answer is “yes.” I tell them of Ken Aston, the famous referee of the yellow and red cards fame, who once shared that his nervousness before officiating a match was equal to his desire to do a good job. He said he realized that when the butterflies went away that he no longer cared enough, was not passionate enough, and that it was time to hang up his whistle. I tell the instructor candidates that their nervousness is a good thing, because it is a sure sign that they care.

I think Ken knows that his stories and what they say about his life and his character will play on and on – and I think that he likes it a lot.

Margie Close

We welcome any photo's or stories of Ken Aston you would like to share here in this section of the website
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