Bro. Tony Smulders
Welcome to everyone here in St. Robert’s Auditorium on the campus of
Loyola Marymount University. This is the place where a little over 21
years ago, in October 1980, Ken gave his first formal five-night clinic
on the Laws of the Game for the American Youth Soccer Organization,
sponsored by the National Referee Committee and the Athletic Department
of the University.
Several memorabilia from this historic event are displayed on a triptych
here in the room. As you all know, Bill Mason was very instrumental in
bringing Ken Aston to the USA and you will here from him a little later.
Most of you know Ken, either from the Ken Aston Referee, Referee
Instructor and/or PRO Camp. Ken was invited and participated in the
Seventh Annual Referee Instructor and the Fifth Annual Youth Referee
Camp in July of 1981, and has been a Lead Instructor in these AYSO camps
since that time and they quickly were named in his honor. Brian Davies
was instrumental in keeping these camps afloat over the years and you
will hear him reminisce also later.
Two camp staffers that preceded Ken should be mentioned: Bob Keus, who
Ken met as a boy during the war in Indonesia, and Walt Colfer, at whose
funeral Ken gave a moving tribute.
Several other wonderful events can be attributed to Ken. Of course the
“Ken Aston Cup” for referee teams, a unique concept that has been in
existence ever since Ken suggested it and Jim Rosenberg will reflect on
its significance later.
At one of the camps Ken suggested a “demonstration team” for fouls. Jose
Ochoa, one of the instructors, brought in his players who performed so
well that the Royal Dutch Soccer Association, the KNVB, whose
representative Jos Heutink attended one of the camps, invited the team
to perform in PSV stadium in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, to videotape
the antics. In soccer quizzes on Dutch TV you still see snippets of this
Ken Aston was a true gentleman and together with his wife Hilda we often
talked about Holland, where his son Peter was living for a while.
I was privileged to MC Ken’s 80th birthday party on the Queen Mary. What
wonderful memories. As a teacher I admired his story telling and
techniques of teaching. He loved AYSO and was proud to be an honorary
member and being selected into the Soccer Hall of Fame, which eventually
allowed the Queen of England to recognize him bestowing the MBE honor, a
videotape some of us watched just last summer. We have lost a great man
from among us, but his spirit will continue and therefore we can
celebrate his life here this evening.
It was 21 years ago that I had the privilege of standing here in this
same auditorium and saying something like the following:
Good evening, and welcome to the opening session of a five-night clinic
on officiating. We are very honored to have with us a gentleman who is
famous throughout the football world – but this is his first time before
an AYSO audience.
Former chairman of both the FIFA Referee’s Committee and the
International Football Association Board, a World Cup Finals Referee,
and now FIFA’s Chief Refereeing Instructor – it gives me the greatest of
pleasure to introduce to you Mr. Ken Aston….
But that was twenty-one years ago – and what a wonderful 21 years it has
been. There are a few of you who were here in October 1980, and who must
remember the electricity that filled the room those five nights – I
imagine that most of you here this evening had that same feeling when
you first heard Ken speak. Could I ask those who were here, for that
very first ‘Ken Aston Clinic’, to please stand and tell us who you are?
Thank you, and welcome back! (Six stood and introduced themselves.)
Let me give you just a bit of background on how Mr. Aston came to be
with us that evening in 1980.
There had been an AYSO ‘Ken Aston Clinic’ scheduled to take place,
exactly one and one-half years earlier in April 1979 – but we were
forced to cancel it. Why, you may ask? Well, AYSO was not affiliated
with USSF back then – just as the English Schools Football Association
was not affiliated with the English F.A. And certain persons in USSF
objected to Mr. Aston speaking to an ‘outlaw organization’ – an
organization which was destined to have a tremendous impact on all youth
sports in the United States. Mr. Aston was in the States for a series of
clinics in Northern California for CSA-North, and we had arranged for
him to come to Los Angeles. But due to the pressure being placed on the
Cal-North Referee Administrator…a FIFA referee who, if Mr. Aston spoke
to AYSO, was afraid he would be removed from the FIFA list the following
year (and he was)…we agreed to cancel the meeting.
That same weekend I had been invited to a banquet in the Ken Astons’ honor
in San Rafael. It was there I first met Hilda and Ken. And it was there
that Ken said he would return to California, whenever AYSO wanted. That
no one could stop him from coming here as a private citizen.
In the year that followed we quoted Ken Aston in our AYSO publications, so
that he would be better known to AYSO when he did come. There were those
who said it would never happen – that USSF would insist that FIFA
prevent Ken from speaking to AYSO. And indeed they tried.
When Ken and Hilda arrived at LAX that first time in 1980, Ken was
wearing his FIFA blazer. And so, when I picked him up for the opening
session a few days later, I wore a blazer on which Jacky had sewn an
AYSO emblem. However, much to my disappointment, Ken was wearing a
“Ken,” I said, “where’s your FIFA blazer?” I shall never forget his
“Bill, there are some things that must be kept separate.”
Ken also cautioned me to not be disappointed if the turnout was much
smaller than expected – that he had taught courses all over the world,
and the organizers were always fortunate to get half as many as
anticipated. You can imagine his surprise when he walked into this room,
filled to capacity.
Ken was deeply impressed by the sincerity, the eagerness, and the
perceived character of our AYSO people. On the second night he wore his
FIFA blazer. And on the final night, at the break when a number of
awards were given him, including a proclamation from the mayor of Los
Angeles and a life membership in AYSO – Ken wore my AYSO blazer!
Thus began Mr. Aston’s love affair with AYSO – and AYSO’s love affair
with the Astons.
And while Ken could not be stopped from coming to AYSO, it did result in
him parting ways with FIFA. The complaints continued, and Ken eventually
told FIFA, that should he be required to make a choice between FIFA and
AYSO, then he would choose AYSO. And he did!
Why would Ken do this? Leave his powerful and prestigious position with
the governing body of world football after spending only five evenings
with us? I’ll read an excerpt from some of his correspondence in early
1981 – written long before the Ken Aston Cup – and before he became the
principal instructor at AYSO camps and clinics throughout the United
States. Here’s what he told those who attempted to stop him from joining
“I find it a refreshing change to visit an organization run by
well-intentioned people who are not looking to see how much they can get
out of it, but how much they can put into it. I have seen no evidence of
power-seeking, financial reward, opportunities for ‘free-loading’, or
any of the other motives with which we are all so familiar. These are
genuine and sincere people who spend a lot of time and energy – and
often money – to promote soccer for children, and by this time have
acquired a great deal of expertise in this field.”
I’ve told this story to remind each of us that the best tribute we can
pay Ken is to remain true to those ideals that he first saw back in
1980. The same ideals that he continued to see in us until just last
month. Ken saw a refreshing purity in AYSO that we must all strive to
maintain. We owe this to Mr. Aston.
If you’ve read any of Ken’s newspaper obituaries, you know what a
respected and powerful man he was, not only in the world of football.
But, he was also a very humble man. I’ve seen him down on his hands and
knees on the floor of his home, helping a little neighborhood child with
her homework assignment.
And the first time Jacky and I visited Hilda and Ken, after spending
some time in London – Ken had cautioned us not to waste time looking for
a Laundromat – he called upstairs while we were unpacking for me to
bring down our laundry, which I did. When I returned a few minutes
later, there was this great man, with rubber gloves on, washing my
shorts and socks. “Why?” I asked. “Well,” he said, “our washers and
dryers aren’t as large as those in the States, so I decided to do them
Many people have made significant contributions to the game of soccer,
but I honestly and sincerely believe that no one else, neither players,
nor coaches, nor administrators, has had the lasting impact on World
Football as Ken Aston. He was first and foremost a magnificent
instructor without peer, the most wonderful of storytellers, an
innovator, and a man of uncompromising principles. There has never been
anyone who understood the spirit of the laws nor had the love of the
game that Ken had – there never will be. No one else could, or can, give
the clear, incisive interpretations that reflect that spirit and leave
us without questions. And certainly, no one can tell a story the way Ken
You must all remember the story Ken told us about Sir Stanley Rous. The
one when the television commentator informed Sir Stanley that Ken had
said a ball placed for a corner kick need not be wholly within the arc?
Sir Stanley replied: “Is that so? Then I’ll have to see that the Law is
changed!” And, at the next meeting of the International Board, he did!!
A few years back Ken asked if I would see that the Law got changed back,
so that the corner area markings are consistent with the other field
markings. As you know, that change was made in 1997. So…when you see the
drawing that accompanies Law 17, look at it as our tribute to Ken
Aston….Perhaps Ken, at this very moment, is reminding Sir Stanley as to
who had the final word.
For a number of years I felt sorry that our bringing Ken here had caused
him to leave FIFA – he was never again asked to instruct in any FIFA
organized events. But he told me I had no reason to feel any sorrow or
guilt. I believed him when he said that it was the best thing that could
possibly have happened to him and Hilda. He really loved AYSO – the
organization, and what it represents, and most of all, you, the
In closing I would like to quote one of this country’s former FIFA
referees, who is with us tonight, Mr. Toros Kibritjian...
“Don’t cry because it is over…Smile that it happened, because a man like Mr. Ken Aston passed our way.”
It has been a truly wonderful 21 years!
THE LORD’S PRAYER...
Sung by David Brown
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
And the power and the glory
Unfortunately I missed the Loyola Marymount Clinics when Bill Mason
first brought Ken Aston to AYSO. However, based on the notes Jack Demcak
took, Ken did influence me to immediately install the Diagonal System of
Control in Region 22 where I was, at that time, Chief Referee.
I met Ken in person for the first time when Bill and I picked him up at
LAX. I was very nervous about meeting this celebrity, but Bill said to
me “you’ll be making a new friend” I didn’t know at the time how true
that was. In fact over the years he became more like part of the family.
Joan and I saw more of Ken and Hilda than we did of our families in
Wales. They stayed with us often over here and we visited them when we
were in England.
Our first visit was memorable. We had no car so found our way by train
and the Tube to the nearest station where Ken picked us up. When we got
to their house it turned out to be on a quiet street of semi-detached
houses. It was when we went inside and Ken and Hilda showed us around
that we were amazed. The house is absolutely packed with World War 2
souvenirs and memorabilia of his (and Hilda’s) World travels. There were
gifts from everyone from the Shah of Iran down. Someone even gave him a
larger than life size bronze bust of himself. I can tell you that they
could stock a small museum with all the items. Since then they have
accumulated many more and the AYSO gifts take pride of place.
I was very lucky that Ken came into the picture just before I was
appointed as the National Director of Officiating. His Philosophy,
wisdom and good sense, not to mention his great knowledge of the game
and his teaching ability, gave me almost instant credibility in the
refereeing community. All I had to say was that Ken Aston had agreed
with what I was suggesting and everything was fine. Don’t think for a
minute that I didn’t take advantage of that.
But Ken was more than just a referee, his experiences during World War
Two and as a Teacher and Headmaster in a school in Redbridge, England
molded him into a man who appreciated life and loved children.
He loved to be at the PRO Camp, and the campers loved having him there.
Whenever there were kids he was in his element telling them stories
while throwing in a little bit of education. He did that with my
grandkids, one of whom said at one time... “aren’t you lucky grandpa, that
you are a friend of such a famous and nice man. I certainly am!!
To illustrate how Ken was with kids just one little story and then a
short video clip.
Ken, Hilda, Joan and I were waiting outside a restaurant in Dana Point
and also waiting was a couple with a small boy. Ken took an instant
interest in the little boy who was jumping up and down. Ken said words
to the effect “my, aren’t you jumping high” the boy then came over to
Ken and said “I can jump even higher than that!” Ken said “I bet you
can, but you know what? I can jump higher than that building over there”
The boy was very doubtful about that so asked Ken to prove it. Ken stood
up and jumped about six inches into the air, and then said, “Go on then,
ask the building to jump higher than I did.” The boy and his parents
were very amused and entertained and since then I’ve used that same
little trick with kids myself.
The video clip we are about to show was taken at the Ken Aston Cup. Ken
was driving me over to where I had a cameraman waiting to film an
introduction for an Offside Video.
You can see what happened as soon as he and I drove up, Union Jack
flying. The girls were all over him and my business had to wait.
Ken and Hilda noticed everything. One time they went to lunch at a
little Café in the Bristol Farms store in Long Beach. They ordered the
Shepherd’s Pie and enjoyed it very much. However the next time they went
there he handed over a letter to the Manager explaining that while the
pie was very good it was not Shepherd’s Pie but Cottage Pie, as it was
made with beef and not lamb.
One of my favorite times with Ken and Hilda was at their 80th Birthday
Dinner Party at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I can see him now making
it difficult for the magician by not properly cooperating, but it was
all in good fun. Afterward we all trailed balloons as we walked along
the deck and to the parking lot. We finally managed to stuff them all
into my Honda Accord and drove away tired but very happy.
Another was when we surprised them with a Golden Wedding celebration on
the Saturday evening of camp. They were delighted and the special
champagne glasses are still in their home.
One more involves a tie that I have with me tonight. My youngest
daughter was married on August 3rd 1991 and luckily Ken and Hilda were
able to attend. As Ken and I stood talking at the reception I said,
“That’s a nice tie you’re wearing.” Quick as a flash he took it off and
gave it to me. You had to be careful what you admired with Ken or you
end up owning it. I tried again a couple of years later with his FIFA
Blazer but that time it didn’t work.
I recently had bypass surgery and Ken and Hilda called almost every day
to check on my progress. He would try to cheer me up by telling me funny
stories. I spoke to Ken the day before he went into surgery; he was
still more concerned for me than for himself and was already planning
surgery for his other hip so he could be comfortable when he came to
California in 2002. As Hilda told me later he thought he was
indestructible and so I suppose did we all.
Although he won’t be with us in person his spirit and presence will
always be felt everywhere he was known and particularly at the Ken Aston
Camps and the Ken Aston Cup. He was loved and respected by us all for
all sorts of wonderful things including his gentle humor.
One last story he loved to tell: There were two flies playing in a
saucer, after a while one said to the other, “You know what? If we keep
practicing like this, next week maybe we’ll be playing in the cup.”
When last I spoke to Hilda she asked me to thank you all for the cards
and letters. The printed words on the cards were lovely but the written
words were wonderful and very uplifting. She is doing well and says that
no one needs to be unhappy for her as they had a wonderful life together
and she has many fond memories to keep her warm. Her fondest memories
are of him working in the garage and, in their garden where he spent so
many happy hours.
Ken and Hilda would have loved to see you all here. They certainly loved
coming to California every July and I sincerely believe it extended
their enjoyment of life. They will be missed enormously by us all.
IN THE GARDEN...
I like to make a brief introduction, if I may, before singing this song.
I've been told that, in his spare time, Mr. Aston loved to spend time in
his garden. Perhaps the lyrics to this song could give us a brief, small
glimpse of what those times were like for him in his garden.
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known.
A celebration is defined as a moment to observe a meaningful event, a
joyous occasion or a time of thanksgiving. I am sure that when each of
us stops to remember times spent with Ken, any one…or all of these
I am Jim Rosenberg and I am honored to be here today representing the
Ken Aston Cup tournament as well as Area 11-L which hosts this
meaningful event…and will continue to do so. Both Ken and Hilda lent
their presence and spirit to this very special undertaking…for which, on
behalf of many people, I say…Thank You Ken!
And I also stand here as an individual and a father, extremely glad that
I was fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Ken Aston, for which I
say…Thank You Ken!
I first met Ken at Advantage ’96 in Redlands. I was kind of a “newbie”
having come into AYSO after many years of association with that other
brand of football…you know, the one where it is OK to use your hands
without the referee getting on your case. I was truly impressed by the
resumes, skill levels, knowledge and the variety of accents exhibited by
the panelists…but when it came to the “elder statesman” of the group,
well, I was truly enthralled. He seemed to have a special gift of
communicating, often in story form that made it so easy to understand…so
special. During one of the panel discussions, I noticed that Ken was
“scribbling away” and when it came to his turn to address the group,
instead of his usual style of opening, he said that he would like to
read a poem he had written…which I would like to share with you at this
Rank by rank we stand
From the four winds gathered hither
Refs and coaches hand in hand
How do they ever come to differ?
They’re quite united in their aim
To give enjoyment to the kids
They’re volunteers and in the main
Have splendid people in their midst
The difference is, I’m sad to say
Is how they contemplate the play
The coaches like to win the game
The refs see fairness as the aim
The children didn’t do what they’re taught
Which makes their coaches become quite fraught
And this frustration gets transferred
Towards the ref with an angry word
Dear friends, let’s accept the fact
To do our jobs we must use tact
We do our best whatever our note
For best enjoyment – that’s the goal
Let’s walk together this weekend
And broken bridges strive to mend
To understand each other’s view
So harmony will then ensue
And then there was a session called “Tales From the Pitch” where the
best of the best try to outdo each other. Oh yes Bill and Brian, you
guys were good, but when Ken stood and spoke, he had us all eating out
of the palm of his hand and everyone else paled by comparison. I came to
realize that Ken was speaking from the heart about something he truly
loved and that he wanted to share that love affair with all of us. That
weekend was a major catalyst in my involvement in AYSO, which has been a
marvelous experience…for which I say…Thank You Ken!
The next year, I was approached by Gert Jensen, who asked if I’d like to
get involved with an Area event called the Ken Aston Cup. I had no idea
who else was involved, but Ken was, so I wanted to be on that train too!
I remember my first tournament committee meeting; here I was…the “rouge”
coach…among this group of long term referees. I noticed that they seemed
overly concerned with “getting it right”, no detail overlooked…yes, Gert,
Henry Damigella who was the captain of the team that won the first Ken
Aston Cup…what year was that Henry? And Urby Roostee, Steve Getty, Dale
Howe, Will Haas, Tom Olhasso, Joe Weisz, Dave Hicks, Sheri Harman Lee,
Sandy Clark…no, they were not just planning a tournament, but they were
involved in staging a meaningful event, built around a central figure
for whom they had not only a tremendous amount of appreciation, but as
the song says “Love Was In the Air.” The payoff, you may ask? That time
of thanksgiving, that joyous occasion when they would be together with
Ken and Hilda again. I am so glad to be a part of this wonderful group
of people who make it a year around endeavor to make sure the tournament
is better every year to honor its namesake, its inspiration…on behalf of
all of us…Thank You Ken!, and I am sure that I speak for all in
dedicating the 2002 Ken Aston Cup and those thereafter to Ken’s memory.
And then there were those special moments as individuals that we all
treasure. And yes, I too looked forward to the annual reunion with Ken
and Hilda…a few minutes of “one on one”, where they asked about me and
my family in a manner so warm and loving that it seemed like we were the
oldest and dearest of friends. But most important to me was the
relationship that Ken developed with my son. In the beginning I did not
know how much Ken loved children…Ken was the reason behind my son
becoming a referee in addition to his playing the game. Ken was the
driving force behind my son and I leaving the house by 7:00 AM on
Saturdays and not returning until dusk…so that my son and I could
referee 30+ games during the fall season in addition to his playing and
my coaching. For this too, I say…Thank You Ken!, you have given me a
father-son experience that is without equal. Among the pictures in my
office that I cherish are the annual pictures of Jason with Ken and/or
Ken and Hilda and I know that he cherishes them too. Probably, if I had
let him, my son would have placed a transatlantic call to Ken to let him
know that he had earned his Area badge last year…but I was a “meanie”
and made him wait until he saw Ken at the tournament this past July.
I am sure that every one of us has our own memories, our own stories,
and our own remembrances of Ken. And I know that all of these have the
commonality of the positive effect of Ken Aston being part of our lives.
As I said earlier, a celebration is a moment to observe a meaningful
event, a joyous occasion or a time of thanks giving. Knowing and being
with Ken was always a joyous occasion, his association with us was a
meaningful event of great magnitude…the result is today is our time of
thanksgiving…Thank You Ken!…and we wish you Godspeed.
The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing.
He shall feed me in a green pasture, and lead me forth beside the waters
He shall convert my soul, and bring me forth in the paths of
For His Name’s sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff comfort
Thou shalt prepare a table before me, against them that trouble me.
Thou hast anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.
But Thy loving, kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever... Amen.
AYSO NATIONAL TRIBUTE...
The impact Ken Aston has had on AYSO has been huge. In teaching our
referees the skills they need to make our games safe, fun and fair for
our kids, Ken did not just take his World Cup-class skills and reduce
them in size for AYSO. Rather, he taught us how to bring the full spirit
of the game he knew at the highest level, down to where we could use it
to ignite the spirit within the kids AYSO serves.
And the respect we had for Ken was a mutual one. Some of you may have
seen in the Tribute Book we sent to Hilda where I quoted Ken's comment
about AYSO having the best trained amateur referees in the World. I
think that it is important for you to know the context in which Ken made
As AYSO president, I was fortunate enough to sit with Ken on the dais
during the opening ceremonies at our AYSO National Games this past
summer in West Point. It being the Military Academy and all, those of
you who were there will recall that the procession was to have been led
by two starched and polished honor cadets atop two army mules. As the
mules were entering the stadium, for some reason they refused to cross
over the line between the grass outer field and the composite track, and
they had to withdraw.
As the procession continued, Ken had us in stitches on the dais. And, if
you remember that West Point Garrison Commander, you know how tough a
job it must have been to keep her in stitches. In any event, when our
200 AYSO referees got to the point where the mules had balked, the
referees simply marched right in. Given the jovial nature on the dais,
and knowing that Ken is always up for a discussion about making the
right call on the pitch, I turned to Ken and asked him who had made the
correct call, the referees or the mules.
Ken's back stiffened, and it was then that he said in a remarkable
mixture of truth, pride, and a bit of a scolding: "You know, Joel, AYSO
referees are the best trained amateur referees in the World." With that,
Ken rested his case and the debate was over.
As I was reflecting upon what AYSO's "official" words of tribute might
be tonight, I realized that Ken's own defense of our referees is his
greatest legacy. Ken is right: AYSO referees are the best, and the
reason that this is so is in very large measure because of the lessons
that AYSO as an organization has learned from its precious association
with Ken Aston.
Ken, our dear friend, we thank you for everything you have done for
AYSO, for our volunteers, and for our kids. I know that AYSO will go on
celebrating your life, and the lessons you have taught us, for years and
years to come.
My name is Joe Eldridge and I am the AYSO National Referee
Exactly twenty years ago, having never refereed a game in my life, I had
the good fortune to attend a Ken Aston referee training session in
Spartansburg, South Carolina. In my home region back in Hillbilly Heaven
West Virginia, they insisted it was important for me to have some
referee training before I refereed, even though I said I had played and
therefore already knew everything I needed to know to referee.
I arrived a little late and entered the lecture hall where Ken was
addressing a large group. I sat down in the back of the room and the
longer I sat the closer my chin got to the floor. I was awed and
mesmerized by Ken. I simply wanted to learn the rules, but instead Ken
lit a fire in my belly for the Spirit of the Game and the Philosophy of
I stand here twenty years later still in awe of Ken and still with that
same fire in my belly. A great man forever changed my life on that day
twenty years ago.
Bill Mason has asked me to read a prayer written by Ken
The minister at
the memorial service for Ken in England also read this prayer:
Set a watch, O Lord, upon our tongue
That we may never speak
The cruel word which is untrue,
Or being true, is only
Or being wholly true
Amen. Farewell and Godspeed, Ken.
You made the world a better place, you made soccer a better game, and
you made me a better man.
PETER ASTON’S TRIBUTE...
Given by Ken’s son Peter at the London Service, 6 November 2001
(Read by Brian Davies and Bill Mason)
Good evening to you all.
Before saying a few words concerning Ken, please allow me to say a few
words to you from him – as his son in former times, and best friend in
the recent past, I think I know quite well what he wants to be said.
Thank you all for coming on this day – especially those of you who have
traveled a long way to say goodbye to me – well, not goodbye, actually,
more a farewell, since I know that the warmth of our friendship will
endure. Frankly, I did not expect to see so many come to my funeral –
and it makes me humble that you have taken so much trouble on my behalf!
Whatever our personal involvement may have been – in football, teaching,
community service, or just in day to day life as friend or neighbor, you
will know that I have always had very clear visions concerning the
issues we discussed and shared, and I look to you all to continue the
work where I have been obliged to leave it.
Those of you, who know me well, will know that I have never been fond of
long and painful farewells, or of mourning. If you live your life on the
basis of being kind to all people and you do what you should for them
during their lives, then there is no need to mourn their departure. So
it is for you all who have been kind to me throughout our relationship.
No need to morn; just keep fond memories of me; celebrate the good
things in my life and the fine times we have shared.
May you have a safe journey home.
So, I will follow Ken’s good advice, and keep the rest of the tribute to
Football was the game that Ken loved; and to which he gave most of his
spare time. The popularity of the game, and his high profile coming from
massive competence, mean that all of you are well aware of his
achievements. So I will not list all of the things that most, if not all
of you know, already – except to highlight his pride at the recognition
he received upon the award of an MBE in 1997 for services to soccer in
the USA. His love of the game and an equal love and ability to relate to
children of all ages, were ideally suited to AYSO in its formative
years. It was clear that as much as he gave to that organization, so he
received recompense in satisfaction from doing well the things he loved.
But let us celebrate some of the other aspects of Ken’s life, which are,
perhaps, not known so widely. There is so many highlights, that it may
appear to be a list – which I suppose it is!!!
· Born in 1915, he passed his 11+ exams one year early, and he stayed
ahead of the game thereafter.
· Excellent athlete at 400 meters, and throwing the cricket ball – 98
yards to be precise. I was always pleased to achieve half that distance!
· His school football team was unbeaten for 6 years.
· He started in the army as a private and finished as a Lt. Colonel after...
· At officer training school, he was so outstanding that he was
immediately brought back as a member of the teaching staff.
· When appointed School headmaster at age 38, it was the youngest ever
appointment by the county.
· He introduced chess to the school for 4–11 year olds. 5 years later,
they won the National Schools Championship. A six year old played one of
twenty boards against a visiting grand master, and resigned as one of
the last survivors at midnight, still in with a chance, but just too
tired to continue. That is the sort of motivator Ken could be for the
· He served as a JP for many years, a natural development for one who
had studied and excelled in Army Law during the war.
· He joined me in motor sport, marshalling on all-night rallies, driving
in sprints on the famous race circuits of Goodwood and Zolder in
Belgium, even until the age of 70. He was not the fastest, but he had
quite a few boy racers, looking over their shoulders with some concern!
· Round the world lecture tours, dodging bullets during demonstrations
in Venezuela, death threats following controversial football matches –
all part of a very full and varied life!!!
What more to say? Plenty; enough to fill a book. But let us close not
with the thoughts of family – but the words of those he met, helped
comforted, advised or led throughout his life. Some of you may recognize
a phrase that you have used – but I am sure that you will all agree with
the sentiments that follow:
If one is lucky, into one's life may come a person so special, so
I can look back on the good things that life has brought me, and say
that Ken was fundamental to it all….
He was a man who really made a difference to all those who met him….
The "Boot mark from Brazil"….
Here Peter told a humorous story “concerning a tribute from one dear
person, who thanked him for the ‘boot mark from Brazil’. I had images of
Ken demonstrating (as he often did) ‘going over the top’ in a two-foot
tackle, which often drew blood from his opponent! On closer inspection,
however, the writer was in fact thanking him for a ‘book mark from
Brazil’! So the moral which Ken surely would draw from this, as it
applies to football refereeing, is ‘Look to see what is truly happening;
not just what you expect to see out of habit.’”
Thank you Hilda for allowing Ken to bring himself to the game of
We are remembering many happy times that were special….
He changed my life for ever… and I am grateful….
He was a vibrant man and a tower of strength – what a role model!!!….
He did so much for us, it is a debt that we could never repay….
He was a lovely neighbor to us….
My teacher, mentor, friend and inspiration….
The official obituaries only convey 10% of his greatness….
What a wonderful inspiration he was.
I think that when we leave, we can all be sure in the knowledge that
heaven will benefit from a better education system and improved football
refereeing, before too long.
Thank you all for your kind words and support, and in line with Ken, I
wish you a safe return home.
* KEN ASTON MEMORIAL PROJECT *
You might possibly remember Ken telling us that on the day after the
1966 World Cup match between England and Argentina, the Charlton
Brothers, while reading the morning papers in their hotel room, learned
that they had been cautioned the previous day.
And in that same match Ken, who was in charge of the referees, had to
enter the field to convince an Argentine player that the referee was
trying to send him off.
This summer before the Astons’ returned to England, I asked Ken to write
down the details of this event so that I wouldn’t forget them. The real
reason was so that we could determine where it was Ken first got the
idea for the colored cards, that is, at exactly which intersection had
he stopped after the lights suddenly changed from green to yellow to
The last written correspondence I received from Ken recited the story,
but there was one important detail missing – the name of the “little
side street” he said he had driven down before turning into Kensington
While in London, following Ken’s service (at which there were about 170
in attendance), I met with several people to arrange for a permanent
monument, in the form of a large bronze plaque or tablet, to be
installed at the corner where Ken thought of using colored cards to
I first met with two men from LWT – London Weekend Television. They had
interviewed Ken just the month before he went into the hospital, and a
special on football officiating featuring Ken will be broadcast in the
UK in early 2002.
At the meeting they gave me a transcript of Ken’s interview, and in it
is the name of the little side street, “Wrights Lane”, in Kensington.
Attending Ken’s funeral was a young man, Chris Hall, who had refereed up
in Washington, and who, in respect for Ken’s work here in the States,
had worn a USSF blazer to the service. I explained our project to Chris,
and he not only agreed, but also was quite eager, to assist us. He and I
retraced Ken’s route and located the traffic signals.
We next met with two men from the Planning Directorate of The Royal
Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, explained what we had in mind, and
that we felt this was a matter of historical interest involving the
Royal Borough. They were very receptive, and so we’re now ready to
proceed with the project, with your help.
We hope you will each take a pledge card, fill it in, and drop it in the
box. Please include your mailing address and, if you have one, an e-mail
address. Once you’re home, at your convenience, please send your check
to the address on the back of tonight’s program.
Any monies collected beyond the costs for the plaque and installation we
hope to use for a replica here in the States, either in the AYSO NTSC,
or perhaps in the US National Hall of Fame, of which Ken is a member.
Any excess monies will go to a charity of Hilda’s choosing.
We expect to have this project completed in time for a dedication next
April or May.
And a finally thanks to you for being here tonight.
And to the two members of the committee who didn’t speak, Sandie Oerly
and Margie Close.
Contributions for a Permanent Tribute may be forwarded to:
* The Ken Aston Memorial Project *
c/o Sandie Oerly
5652 Emerald Street
Alta Loma, CA 91701