Jimmy Smeaton, known to West Lothian locals as “Mr Armadale Thistle”, has been awarded the Jock Myles trophy in recognition of his 30 years of work in junior football.
Jimmy, 62, joined the Armadale Thistle Supporters Club in 1961 after watching them win the East of Scotland Cup.
He joined the club committee in 1981 and was made secretary a year later.
The club’s efforts to make sure Jimmy didn’t find out about the upcoming accolade in advance were slightly too successful.
John Lees, the treasurer at Armadale Thistle, explained: “It was kept so secret that Jimmy wasn’t even at the AGM when the award was presented. So the trophy and the watch that came with it was accepted on his behalf by our delegate, Jackie Louden.”
Jimmy added: “I think Jackie even had to mumble a wee speech on my behalf.”
The Jock Myles trophy, named after the well-respected former East Region secretary, was established in 2006, and has previously been presented to other local legends of junior football, John Reilly and David Roy from Linlithgow Rose.
Jimmy said: “I didn’t find out until Jackie called me later that night. He thought I already knew but I was totally shocked.
“It was a big surprise, but a very pleasant one.
“I was given it for services and dedication to the club and I was just delighted, especially when I saw the names already on it, including David Roy, who’s an MBE.”
Mr Reilly, general secretary of the East Region Junior Football Association, said: “We just felt that Jimmy had done lots of sterling work for Armadale Thistle and he was the person that should receive the trophy this year.
“He’s done a lot for the club and it’s the kind of work that often goes unnoticed, so we wanted to give him some recognition. He’s a true gentleman, and fully deserved the trophy.”
Mr Lees said: “Jimmy has suffered from ill health over the years. He had a pacemaker fitted in 1998 and at the moment his eyesight is failing due to diabetes.
“But he’s still very involved in the club and refuses to give up, which is testament to his love of the game.
“He’s stuck with the club through good and bad times. There was a very serious fire which gutted the pavilion in 1986.
“Jimmy was instrumental in rallying the troops and raising the support we needed to rebuild.”
Scott Birrell, owner of the Corrie Bar, described as “the seat of football in Armadale”, said: “I’ve known Jimmy for years, he’s a great guy. He’s been secretary for as long as I can remember but he’s been struggling with ill health recently.
“I think it had started to get him down, but this has given him a new lease of life.”