TWO Reading and District Schools Athletic League officials were given a well-deserved special round of applause at Palmer Park Stadium last week.

The large crowd of athletes and teachers were told over the public address system that Jill Wright (no relation) had been awarded a British Empire Medal in last month's Queen's birthday honours list in recognition of her 60 years plus service to Berkshire athletics, while Brian Day is in his 50th year as the league's secretary.

Both were on track duty at the Under 14 finals day, along with other long-serving officials including Brian Bacon and his wife Stella, who is still competing in the veterans league for Reading AC.

All four have been doing a tremendous job for schools athletics for many decades and plan to carry on for as long as possible.

But there will come a time when these four volunteers will retire and when that day does come, the league is going to be left with a massive void to fill.

There can't be many people around prepared to devote as much of their spare time to organising schools athletic meetings during an already busy summer term.

One teacher at the league finals told me: "We have no idea what is going to happen when Brian (Day) and Jill retire."

THAMES Valley Premier League was named the league of the year at the Berks & Bucks FA's grassroots awards ceremony held at Milton Keynes FC.

Reading's Malcolm Hillen, who is involved in several men's, women's and junior leagues, won the referees' category, while Shinfield Rangers FC's BobiCats programme deservedly earned them the project-of-the-year prize.

There were plenty of nominations for all categories and just a pity there could be only one winner in each, but it was pleasing to see the Berks & Bucks recognising all the excellent work that is going on to promote football.

The association's hierarchy are endeavouring to work closer with those involved at grassroots level, and are planning to introduce new positions on their council for representatives of young people.