Author Topic: Dedicated to soccer - New Zealand soccer president at 85  (Read 1350 times)

Offline David

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Dedicated to soccer - New Zealand soccer president at 85
« on: January 19, 2007, 11:22:57 PM »
She is 85 and has just been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for almost four decades of football service – but there is no show of Eileen Langridge putting her feet up. She just is not the retiring type.
At a time of life when many of her contemporaries are content with a quiet cuppa in the conservatory, the Christchurch widow will continue as Mainland Soccer's president and Canterbury United's unpaid administrative assistant.
Renowned for a steel-trap mind and an unparalleled understanding of New Zealand Soccer regulations, Langridge will spend another winter as Christchurch Technical's operations manager.
Apart from her devotion to her "small family", soccer is her life.
"I honestly don't know what I'd do if I didn't do football work. I love music and plays, but I've perhaps been a bit of a singular sort of person."
"Ask Eileen – she'll know" is the mantra for South Island soccer folk stumped for an answer to curly questions from the latest Fifa transfer rule to the history of the Canterbury Football Association.
Langridge has been an institution on the football scene for 37 years and has set a number of firsts. First woman soccer club secretary in Canterbury (with Western from 1968 to 1983); first female secretary of the Canterbury Football Association (CFA, 1979-1996); first and only woman life member of New Zealand Soccer (2002).
She's also a life member (and current patron) of Western, the CFA, was secretary of the Southern Regional Council, operations manager of the South Island League (1996-2001), national league club secretary of Christchurch City (2001) has been a national league match inspector, a fundraiser and a New Zealand Football Associate delegate .
"It's been a case of have typewriter, will travel," says Langridge, who managed to keep her finger on the CFA's pulse while living in Rakaia for much of her stint as secretary.
She recalls Timaru-bound trucks "dropping transfer forms off in our letter-box" on the way south "and picking them up again" on the homeward run.
Her one day a week break from soccer duty was basically a buswoman's holiday. Fridays were spent volunteering for the Cancer Society and the Opawa Community Library.
From a working class London family but an ardent "royalist", Langridge is "very proud" of her New Year's Honours List QSM, which will be awarded on March 29 at Wellington's Government House.
Langridge does not chase personal accolades, but she has been awarded a string of them "in the last few years".
Three Sport Canterbury winter administrator of the year awards were followed by one of her proudest moments – New Zealand Soccer's inaugural award for services to the game.
She donated the Eileen Langridge Cup for services to Canterbury United and was "blown away" when she won it herself last year after Canterbury made the national league grand final.
Late last year she also picked up an outstanding volunteer administrator prize at the Sir Richard Hadlee Trust awards.
But she was "absolutely stunned" to get the QSM. She is humbled to have earned respect for "the longevity (and) the fact that people think I'm doing a good job".
Langridge's life-long affinity with football began in her native east London. "I was five years old when my father took me to my first West Ham game at Upton Park." A "real sports nut", she still has a soft spot for the Hammers, but is really a Manchester United supporter "and a big follower of (David) Beckham".
Her old London boss, a Fulham club director, "used to get tickets for all the big cup finals and internationals at Wembley, and my dad and I would go along".
Langridge emigrated with her engineer husband, George, to New Zealand in 1951.
Eileen Langridge would "bake a bacon and egg pie and we'd take the (two) kids down to watch the Rangers' (pre-season) soccer tournament".
The Langridges' active involvement – George, who died seven years ago, was a long-time junior soccer servant – began in 1968 when their seven-year-old son, Nigel, signed up at Burndale United then Western.
It was not long before Eileen Langridge was pressed into service as Western secretary, "mainly because I could type and had a good memory".
She fitted her soccer service around a 21-year career as secretary and director at Ron Silvester's Sydenham Park Car Sales business. "He was very supportive. He didn't mind me doing soccer business, as long as my work got done."
Langridge was also a "fervent supporter" of the Christchurch United national league club. "I was there when Derrick Mansbridge plucked (future All Whites captain) Steve Sumner off the plane (in 1973) and when Ken France came home with the Chatham Cup (1972)."
Another happy memory was the friendly rivalries with fans from the New Brighton and Rangers clubs. "We used to sledge each other at games but we'd all go to each other's prizegivings. Football's really one big family ... everyone argues, everyone fights but the bottom line is you play for the (love of) the game."
Langridge treasures the friendships she made through soccer. "(The late) Trevor Gottermeyer (the first of five CFA chairmen she worked alongside) was Mr Soccer to me. David Cox and Colin Houston were both forward thinkers. David's new ideas proved right for the game."
Langridge has also valued her association with leading New Zealand women's administrator Lesley Boomer (who she works with today at Canterbury United) and Alan Fraser, a long-serving national junior office-holder and former Auckland Football Association general manager.
But her greatest reward is "still being involved in the world's greatest game" at 85 years' young.