Les Kempster RIP
It is with great sadness we announce that our president, Les Kempster, passed away peacefully yesterday at the age of 99.
Les first moved to Crawley just after the Second World War, where his involvement in Sussex football first began, playing for Three Bridges.
After his playing days, a career in refereeing followed, which saw him in the middle of the pitch up until his late 60’s, after which he became involved in the training of the next generation of match officials, as a referee assessor and examiner.
Les’ passion, however, was youth football, he began volunteering in grassroots football in 1964 and held a number of different roles and positions in football, too numerous to list.
He was a member of the Sussex County Youth & Minor FA until it merged with us in the 1990s, when he became a County Member and in 2012 Les became our President.
A constant presence at all of our Representative Squad matches and County Cup Finals until his later years, Les’ invaluable contribution to youth football here in Sussex was recognised by having the boys under-13s County Cup, named in his honour; the Sussex Les Kempster Challenge Trophy.
Away from the County FA, Les was chairman of the Mid-Sussex Youth & Minor Football League and later their president, and despite being well into his 90’s, he would still attend all committee meetings plus cup and plate final games, being introduced to all players ahead of kick-off as the guest of honour.
Les’ astounding contribution to Sussex Football was recognised most recently in 2017 with an Outstanding Contribution to Community Football Award from The FA
Speaking on Les’ passing, Chairman of the Sussex County FA, Matthew Major, said:
“Les nominated me as Chairman in 2013, shortly after Peter Bentley passed away, and although I went on to be elected unopposed, it was, without doubt, his strong support that persuaded others to support me.
“In later years I would kid him that it was all his fault that I was Chairman in the first place, and we would both laugh together. This would usually prompt one of his quips about me being a damn fool to have accepted it.
“I shall be forever grateful to Les, and I shall also miss seeing him at our County Cup Finals, which he loved. A very sad day to be sure.”
Remembering Les, our Chief Executive, Ken Benham, said:
“From the day I started as CEO, I will always remember the support Les gave me, his sound advice and honest friendship throughout I truly appreciated, along with his passion for youth football, which was very close to his heart.
“He gave over fifty years of committed, dedicated hard work to Sussex football, providing thousands of young players with the chance to experience the beautiful game.
“Today is a very sad day indeed, and Les is a man that I, and Sussex football, will never forget!”
All of us here at Sussex County FA send our heartfelt condolence to Les’ family and friends on this sad day.
Sussex County FA
T: 01903 753547