COLIN Stanton was one of those selfless people who devoted considerable time and effort into making grassroots sport enjoyable for others.

Stockton Heath’s former Warrington Borough Council outdoor facilities manager and keen bowler, who officiated and administered within rugby league, died, aged 80, on November 30.

Although he performed duties as a rugby league referee and touch judge at professional level for a time, his contribution to community sport was immense and recognised when he was one of the town’s five outstanding sporting servants honoured with a Heart and Sole Award by the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation in 2017, whereby his name is now immortalised in a footprint displayed in the South Stand at The Wire’s home ground.

Warrington Guardian:

Through his 49 years of work with the council and his sporting loves the father-of-four touched the lives of so many people in the town.

Colin, who leaves behind his wife Marie, daughters Jane, Kathryn, Louise and Rachel as well as three grandchildren, was a quiet and unassuming man, a gentleman who gave his all to whatever activity he associated himself with.

It seems ironic now that a man with a lifelong passion for rugby league was born in the vicinity of where The Halliwell Jones Stadium is now situated.

“He was into rugby from a really young age,” said his daughter, Jane.

“He played first, and wasn’t great by his own admission, but he just loved the game. A lot of his life was dedicated to the game.

“My dad played for Rylands and maybe Thames Board, because I have a lot of memories of going there as a kid.

“And then he went into refereeing. I think it was a case that he just wanted to keep involved. He was into all sports but he just loved rugby and that was his first passion.

“He was secretary of Warrington Rugby League Referees Society for about 20 years.

“And he had a lot to do with BARLA (British Amateur Rugby League Association) and student rugby.

“He did officiate at quite a few professional matches as a touch judge and referee, but my dad was most happy doing amateur games and student rugby. He would go all over the country to referee student and amateur games. He was interested in the grassroots side of the game and trying to promote it. I remember us going to Cheltenham and Kent to see him refereeing, and a lot of the time it was student rugby at universities. He just loved it.

“He just did so much for grassroots sport, and especially rugby. A lot of those games wouldn’t have happened without my dad and other refs like him. It was a big thing to give up your Saturday or Sunday to travel wherever. You weren’t doing it for money, you were doing it for the love of it.

“Because of the rules then, he had to stop refereeing at 50 but was fighting fit and would have carried on. He went on to do assessing and other bits and pieces, and was still heavily involved in the referees’ society. He was always involved in something and would do anything to help anybody out.”

Warrington Guardian: Colin supporting Warrington Wolves at WembleyColin supporting Warrington Wolves at Wembley

Colin, who was born James but he went by his middle name, grew up in Orford, attended St Alban’s King Street School in the middle of Warrington town centre and started work with the council, aged 15, in 1956.

“He worked there until he retired at 65,” said Jane.

“He started in the parks and worked his way up into the offices. He was outdoor facilities manager for about 30 years.

“He looked after all the parks and community centres, and some of the leisure centres.

“He was one of the ones who set up the summer schools in the 1980s at Victoria Park. They brought Emlyn Hughes to a football camp and people from Latchford way will remember that.

“Victoria Park was one of the big parts of his job. He spent quite a lot of time at Walton Gardens and helped to reshape Walton Gardens into more of a country park, rather than how it was in the 1970s and 80s.

“We lived at Walton Gardens for four or five years and he was a gardener there before he became manager of the leisure services.”

Jane added: “He was constantly liaising with sports clubs over pitches. I think most people in sport knew him really well. He managed all the bowling greens, rugby and football pitches.”

She also told of the relationship her dad had with former Warrington Wolves kit man Roy Aspinall, better known as Ockher.

“He used to lend equipment to Ockher when Warrington were at Wilderspool. He probably never got any of it back, but he used to get into the rugby for free so he was alright. They had a gentleman’s agreement.”

Crown green bowls and horseracing were two other sports he loved, while he was a keen gardener too.

“He loved bowls and was on a couple of teams. He couldn’t do anything without totally throwing himself into it, so he would be organising trips, refreshments, getting involved with the committee,” said Jane.

Warrington Guardian: Colin Stanton, stood third from right, with the Alexandra Park bowls team in 2009Colin Stanton, stood third from right, with the Alexandra Park bowls team in 2009

“Alexandra Park was his team, and he played in the Warrington Catholic Bowls League.”

She added: “He was also really passionate about horse racing. He liked to study the form. He had a badge at Haydock Park for about 30 years and had a group of friends he would go there with. And they did stables visits too. I think they talked about clubbing together and getting a horse at one point but I think my mum put paid to that though, because he would have brought it home knowing him.

“He was in the University of The Third Age as well – that was his other big hobby. He would organise and run all the trips for the gardening group in the U3A, and a lot of them were elderly or widowed and he would look after them all.

“He was never in, apart from Covid, which was unfortunately the beginning of the end for him.

“He was just an all-round great guy and a friend to anyone.”

Colin’s funeral service is to take place on Tuesday, December 21, at Saint John Henry Newman Church at 11.30am. All Enquiries to Co-operative Funeralcare, Bewsey Road, on 01925 445555.