Top FA honours for Rob

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A man who has helped to promote and encourage young people into football throughout Fenland has netted two top FA honours.

Retired police officer Rob Gifford (49), of West Walton, is one of only a handful of people to receive the Cambridgeshire FA’s outstanding contribution to community football award.

And, in just a few days time, he will receive another top honour with the presentation at Buckingham Palace by Prince William the Duke of Cambridge of another grassroots contribution to football award in celebration of 150 years of the FA.

Rob, who has been involved with the local football scene for around 14 years, said he was “enormously proud” to receive the Cambs FA award last Tuesday at a function at the Cambridge Utd ground.

And he said he was “gob smacked” to then be in line for the special FA grassroots heroes award on October 7, saying there are other people more deserving.

“There are people I know who have been in football longer than me who are just as deserving, I am a little bit humbled,” he said.

Formerly of London, Rob, who was a goalkeeper, got into local football through his son, James when he was five years-old.

His police work in London involved working with bombs and had traumatic repercussions for Rob, who suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and retired from the Force.

He said his interest in football over the years has been a lifeline - helping him through the difficult times.

Rob has been involved in Wisbech Acorns Youth FC for around 12 years, coaching all ages and only recently stepped down as chairman.

He is still actively involved with the Acorns and currently manages the under 7s and coaches the under 15s and 18s as well as undertakes groundsman duties and has been involved in a project to find a new ground for the club.

His impressive grassroots contribution locally has also included volunteering for Cambs FA in Wisbech, acting as Wisbech Town FC’s youth development community officer and Wisbech Town FC Football in the Community Scheme.

Rob was also involved in community sport development at Marshland High School and helped to form and coach March Leverets girls team and a team at Leverington.

Rob, who is married to Barbara and has a younger son Brendan (18), is taking 20 year-old James with him to Buckingham Palace.

He said a pitch is going to be marked out in the palace grounds and after receiving his award, he hopes to go into the gardens and watch a match.

The Acorns are extremely proud to have Rob in their midst and sent in this picture of him at the Cambs FA presentation with, from the left: Malcolm Clements (chairman), Kelley Lewis (vice-chairman) and Mark Brighty (secretary).

• See a video and details of the presentation on the acorns website by following the link: