Rugby and cricket say farewell to a 'grassroots hero' of Lancashire sport

Emotional tributes have been paid on opposite sides of the world to a "grassroots hero" who devoted his life to sport in Lancashire.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 7:19 am
Jeff Gordon was hailed a 'grassroots hero' for the work he did behind the scenes for sport.
Jeff Gordon was hailed a 'grassroots hero' for the work he did behind the scenes for sport.

Jeff Gordon, described as an "incredible" fundraiser and volunteer for Tarleton Rugby Club and Rufford Cricket Club, has died after a brave battle with cancer. He was 65.

Jeff, whose funeral was yesterday, was remembered not only in West Lancashire but also more than 10,000 miles away in Australia where rugby players stood in a minute's silence before a derby game as a mark of respect for the ultimate clubman.

His eldest son Chris plays for Coffs Harbour Snappers in New South Wales and a club official asked players and spectators to show their respects to "the legend Jeff Gordon."

Accomplished photographer Jeff in typical matchday pose.

He added: "I hope you're having a beer upstairs. Your mates here in Coffs Harbour will be thinking of you mate. Well played."

Jeff was a renowned fundraiser at Ormskirk Rugby Club before he joined Tarleton in 1999. His two sons Chris and Dave came through the junior ranks to play first team rugby at Carr Lane.

"He became an incredible volunteer," said close friend Mark Ashcroft, who gave the eulogy at the funeral service. "He would take on any job, working behind the bar, cleaning the changing rooms, right up to first team manager. He was a clubman through and through.

"Yet despite all those jobs he always had a camera with him and he loved being on the touchline taking thousands of photographs and videos.

"He was instrumental in leading club tours both home and abroad. In fact if there was a job to be done, Jeff would invariably be the first to volunteer.

"He had an ability to make things happen and would roll up his sleeves and get things done quickly and without fuss."

Jeff was the driving force behind building Tarleton's club bar and was also instrumental in setting up the annual Skofic Sevens tournament - named after former club chairman Jonathan Skofic - which is now one of the top sevens tournaments in the North of England.

Jeff did a similar backroom job at the cricket club in his home village of Rufford, where he played for the second team, raised much-needed funds, helped with ground maintenance and contributed to the junior set-up.

Away from sport he worked tirelessly for the local scouting movement and the local community, where he set up the Rufford Through the Years Facebook group and became chairman of the village school's PTA, raising money for a new classroom and also to fund a new teacher.

"He was our grassroots hero," said Mark. "He was the type of backroom volunteer that every club needs. He will be sorely missed."

Jeff leaves a wife Anne and three children, Chris, Dave and Amy.