A FOOTBALL referee who died after collapsing during a junior match in West Yorkshire has been described as an “inspiration”.
Chris Leggatt, who was 65, suffered a suspected heart attack during a game in Esholt, between Guiseley and Shipley, last Sunday, September 23.
Mr Leggatt, who was understood to have run several charity marathons, had set a target of refereeing 100 matches for the West Riding County Football Association this season.
Bobby Madley, referee development officer at the FA, said: “He was the kind of referee you want – he was reliable and his commitment was absolutely phenomenal.
“He was an inspiration to referees everywhere.”
Mr Leggatt, a father-of-four and grandfather-of-two from Pool in Wharefdale, was overseeing an under-18s game when he collapsed during the second half.
He was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary before being transferred to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, but doctors were unable to save him.
He had only been taking charge of matches for the West Riding FA for the past two seasons, having taken a course in the North Riding County area.
But Mr Madley said he took to the role with relish.
“He did it for the love of football and that came across to everybody. It’s the reason he will be so sadly missed and we’d like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family,” he said.
Mr Leggatt was also a former parish councillor and was heavily involved with several sports clubs in Pool. As chairman of Pool Tennis Club, he was involved in training the junior players.
He was also a well-respected figure at Pool AFC. Club secretary Peter Wilkinson, said: “We lost a great servant to our club with the death of Chris.
“He was the sort of guy who would never say no if you ever needed a hand. He’d always be there to step in to referee a game at the last minute.
“I was absolutely stunned to hear about what had happened.
“He first became involved at Pool AFC when he won the fell race at our first village gala in the early 1980s and offered to organise the race for us in future. This he did for several years, elevating it to become a part of the Yorkshire championship, with the late Sir Jimmy Savile running in it one year.
“He then looked after our junior section for many years before taking up refereeing, initially filling in when referees were needed, then joining the Harrogate and District league list to officiate on a more regular basis, as well as the usual last-minute favours.
“He served on the sports and social club committee up to his death and was chairman for a period. As with all his involvements, he was very much hands-on.
“Chris will be missed by us all and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Mr Leggatt leaves wife Sue and children Karen, Andrea, Duncan and Jonathan.