Tributes to Ron Debenham

Friday January 20th 2017


Ron is pictured prior to departing to Burnham Ramblers on May 2nd 2015

Our Club President Ron Debenham passed away last Saturday aged 84 – Ron has given decades of loyal service to Barking FC in various capacities, but he also was also a joy to be around and rightly held the title ‘Mr Barking’. This article covers both some of Ron’s recollections of his time with the Blues and the tributes paid to him.

Below some of Ron’s words about his time with the Blues:

As told to Derek Pedder:

"When I was 4 years old in 1936 my dad and uncle were gatemen at the Vicarage Field and took me to games but I was really too young to watch. Two years later, after my father had died, I watched my first game, which was versus Ilford, as part of a big crowd and have followed Barking ever since.  

We were in the Athenian League then and Ilford were in the higher rated Isthmian League. My uncle took me to Redhill in 1939. I continued to watch after the war and have been actively involved since 1956. I went to Middlesbrough for the FA Amateur Cup semi-final versus Willington (in March 1950) and we were made very welcome and treated very well, including an official reception. We were the better team and deserved to win. We left the Barge aground by coach on Friday night and returned on Sunday. 

When we played Blyth Spartans away in the FA Trophy (in 1980) there was snow everywhere. The pitch had been cleared but was slippery and West Ham United, whose game at Sunderland was off, lent us special boots to suit the conditions. I remember us arriving at Dulwich Hamlet once and finding that our kit basket contained track suits only. Dulwich lent us shirts and shorts and we had to rush out and buy socks.

I also remember that Bobby Moore played for our A team and the manager told him to concentrate on cricket as he would never be a successful footballer. “

Taken from 'Love Not Money' by David Bauckham/Centre Circle Publishing
“I used to clear out the dressing rooms, put all the shirts in the big open baths to get the mud out and then drain them of before someone took them away." lf no-one turns up, the first one what steps in is me, and there is only one person that l trust in the ground: me. This morning, I was here at a quarter past seven. I put orange juice in the jugs, put them in the dressing rooms and got the cups ready. I used to have to put the urn on but we've got a new one that cuts itself out when it boils. Then later, I sorted out the car park, picked up the programmes and brought them over. My job then, unless l'm needed, is basically to greet people. If I was to stop I’d die.”

We have received many tributes to Ron and expressions of sympathy:

Rob O'Brien: Ron was a larger than life character who was extremely passionate family man. He would always speak what he left emotionally about the club and to you personally what he was feeling at the time.

When I first came to the club back in 2007 I didn't know any of the staff or committee members. Ron and Maureen was one of the first to greet me and make me feel very welcome.  At that time I was only helping out the Ressies until the end of that season. Because of Ron and Maureen's warmth & support I am still here 10 years later.

When we started to introduce the kids skills coaching in the early days Ron was keen to watch & encourage them to play. I've heard of many stories when Ron has given many a folk lifts home, etc. He continued this enthusiasm until his dying day by introducing his neighbours children to our kids sessions & fetched them back and forth.

A dedicated man to a single club for all those years deserves praise indeed.

His wife Maureen will surely miss him as we all will, but she is one of the family of Barking FC and will be welcomed over all the time and anytime when it suits her.

Ron thanks for all that you have done for the club over the years. We will all miss you and will never forget you with our promotional season this term.

Ron Debenham RIP.

Robert Errington: I was so sorry to hear this afternoon of your President, Ron Debenham's passing and appreciate what a very sad loss this is to his family and to your club. Such loyal, respected and distinguished followers of football clubs are a rare commodity and I know how much Ron meant to everyone at Barking and I wish to pass on the Essex Senior League's condolences to all at this very sad time.

Mick O'Shea: I can't remember one conversation I had with Old Ron without him Telling me something about Barking FC his beloved club. The quote (do you know I've been here since 1938) !!!, still springs to mind each time anyone speaks about him. 
I am very grateful for all the tips and advice offered whilst I was first team manager Ron always encouraged me to play the youngsters he loved seeing them come through.
Proper Football Bloke
Will miss you mate

Derek Pedder:I have known Ron for at least 64 years since my dad and grandad took me to the Vicarage Field for the first time. I remember him clearly in his smart club blazer with the club badge on it. For me he has always been a part of the club and it will never be the same. Ron was always loyal, generous and helpful both to the club and to fellow supporters and club officers. For example he was always ready to offer lifts in his car to anyone who needed them. I was often a beneficiary of this generosity and I am sure that his car was sometimes overloaded, if not in numbers then by the combined weight of several of us in the back seats. He did various jobs, for example, manning the gate when necessary.  In recent years he enjoyed joking about my shape and beard and from October until Christmas he would ask me if I had sorted out my job as Father Christmas in one of the stores. In fact this was the last thing that he said to me when we met for the last time at the Barkingside away game and it is now a treasured memory. The loss of Ron is very sad for all of us but particularly for Maureen and their family and I hope that we continue to see Maureen  

Steve Havers: My main memory of Ron is on away trips by coach he would be like a walking newsagents with sweets and newspapers freely available to all - this for me sums up the man’s total generosity. He gave plenty for Barking FC and asked for little in return.

Steve and Ron make a lovely pair in 2010












Jeff & Jacqui Sears: It is rare that we can call someone a "one club man" these days but Ron, without doubt, had blue blood running through his veins. He was part of the very heart of Barking FC and everyone who has been involved with the club at any level, will know him and miss him. His presence will always be felt in everything we do in the future. RIP Mr President and thank you for everything. Condolences go to Maureen and all the family.

Ashley Hanson: Quite simply I'll miss his chuckle ...

John Harrison: During my time at the Vicarage I was on the committee and acted as reserve team secretary. I continued this role when we first moved to Mayesbrook.

One Saturday the first team was at home and the reserves away at Boreham Wood or Sawbridgeworth (I forget which). Anyway, the reserves were in the car park trying to sort out travelling arrangements via car sharing when Ron came out and said "Do you want to borrow my minibus". The vehicle in question was a Commer or Dormobile, of a questionable age, but with grateful thanks we piled in, with me driving. There was not enough seats so two players sat on the floor.  Ron waved us off with the words, "she (the bus) is old but she is sound. Good luck". As we travelled I could not for some reason find third gear, which made for  a very uncomfortable ride, especially when slowing down via the gearbox.  However, we arrived safely. We won the game and the ride back was like an adventure. As we reached the junction of the A13 and Lodge Avenue, what we thought was smoke started to pour out from under the bonnet. Thankfully it was steam and we made it back to the club in one piece, arriving in a steam cloud.  Ron was waiting for us. "Oh dear" he said, I forgot to tell you to keep topping up the radiator because she leaks a bit, But she is back safe"! 
"Ron", I said, "I couldn't get into third gear for some reason". Oh it hasn't got one" said Ron, didn't I tell you?" he said chuckling away.

Ron was a man with a heart of gold and a family that are Barking through and through. He will be sadly missed.


John Hockley:I started going to Barking in 1953 with my Dad, I was six years old. I have known Ron for over 60 years. I met him when he was on the committee at Vicarage Field and I was a Programme Boy, aged 12. Through the years I found him to be very generous and committed to our club. He always enquired about my two sons. He was pleased to hear that my son Jonathan was involved playing for the reserves and Physio with our Academy teams. Even when he was unwell you would still see him on the gate working on the turnstile and with Maureen working around the clubhouse. On many a cold night we have sat together and shared a hot flask of tea through the years. A very loyal servant to Barking FC. He will be greatly missed by all. It has been an honour to have known him, I will miss him.
This photo is of John and Ron pictured with the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy



Trevor Gilbert: Ron was the first Barking fan I had contact with and was clearly someone who held the club dear and loved being involved off the field as well as what was happening on it. Thanks to him I got involved with much of that off the field work. During this time he had a lasting impact on me - though not in the way I expected! One Saturday as I was setting up the tea table Ron tripped on the stair into the boardroom, luckily I was there to cushion his fall with the back of his head hitting the side of my kneecap - an injury which still hurts to this day and particularly on cold days!

RIP Ron.

Terry Gilbert: Ron was the first person I ever met at Barking FC as he was selling raffle tickets outside the ground and our friendship grew with my continued visits to Mayesbrook Park and his encouragement was always gratefully received. 
I have taken several photos of Ron presenting or receiving awards – but the above from December 2012 with Ben Turner is my personal favourite as he looks so dapper. We had some banter as it took Ron a little while to make it across the muddy pitch that night. As the photo appeared in the local press with

the legend ‘Barking FC president Ron Debenham’ it brought him unlikely recognition from the staff of his local chemist who had known Ron for many years but had no idea of his involvement with the Blues – I am sure he let them know everything and it gave us both a chuckle. Ron was many things to many people.

A music hall comedian of a bygone age had a catchphrase: “There'll never be another” and in Ron’s case this is true:
RIP Mr Barking.


The following messages of condolence appeared on social media from players, officials and supporters :

Anthony Mercer: Such sad news. Such a good man. RIP Ron

Joe Blewitt: Such sad news Ron was Mr Barking done so much for the Barking Football Club have so many good memories with Ron watching Barking Home and Away and so well liked and loved as a person Ron will be sorely missed my heart goes out to Maureen and Family at such a sad time.

Stephen Moon: Very sad news. Ron must have supported the Blues all his life and served the club well as a Committee member for many years in his younger days. Remember he always used to call me Dave for many years (not quite a Trigger replicate) until I very politely put him right. Without the work of him, and others like him such as the also very sadly departed Brad, Barking could easily have died. I know the tributes will be appropriately made but the best one of all is to say "Come on lads, win the ESL for Ron and get back in the Isthmian/Ryman where you belong and make Ron proud." Top man Ron, RIP.

Alan is pictured making a club presentation wth Ron in the white trousers on the right clapping
Photo courtesy of John Hockley

Alan Wetherall: Sad to hear of the passing of Ron, a great club man and a friend of many years, Ron told me that we met as young supporters of Barking Football Club way back in the 1930s (1937-9), he was right, I use to attend most of the matches home and away with my mum & dad, my uncle was on committee, we lost track of each other because of the war, I continued with my affair with Barking after the war, played for the A team and reserves, never made the first team (never had subs in those days), I moved on around the clubs but whenever I came back to the Vicarage field I meet up with Ron doing what he could to help around the ground and selling programmes on match days, he was the first to welcome me, when I come back to the club I worked with the committee and realised what a help Ron was, even more when the club moved to Mayesbrook Park, I was now club secretary and the move put a big strain on all concerned at the club, but Ron was always there, he brought Maureen along to meet us all, I remember it well it was the day I was elected to Chairman, Ron has had a big part of my football life, right up to last year ,the last time I had a chat to him, THANK YOU OLD FRIEND REST IN PEACE

Scott Borthwick: Sad news what a great man.

Luke Gabriel: Gutted, R.I.P Ron a true blue

Jakob de Freitas: RIP Ron, sympathies to everyone at Barking.

Andy Edmunds: sad times. RIP Ron. Thoughts go out to his family and friends

Jim Cooper: he was around when both Kev (brother) and I played in 1984 True Non League servant RIP

Jay Devereux: A wonderful character who epitomised all that's great about Barking FC.  My thoughts are with Maureen and their family xx

Lee Pyne: RIP Ron such a lovely fella done anything for you and the club

Joe Staunton: best wishes to all Ron’s family and friends

Paul Glibbery: Hadn't been back for 11 years until game recently, still remembered me and we had a nice chat. Go and win the league for Ron. RIP

Ben O’Brien: A real shame. True gent who will be missed at Barking. RIP Ron

Joe Tungate: RIP Ron a lovely old school fella.

Chris Clark: sad news great character around Barking FC glad to have known the man he will be sadly missed #rip

Russ Harley: Absolutely devastated to hear the news that Ron has passed a true gentlemen one of first people I met at Barking FC him and Maureen always looked after people at the club there hospitality always first class and done so much for the club, I remember him doing sandwiches for college fixtures and ESL Games and giving me lifts to and from games, thoughts with Maureen and family one of the good guys, who make running non-league clubs possible massive loss for football

James Butler: gutted and sadden to hear, remember turning up as a 16 year old to the games and he'd always willing me on

Jeff Harriss: RIP Ron, a kind and lovely person

Paul Cullen: R.I.P. Dear Ron, Will be sadly missed at Barking as was part of the Furniture.

Ray Atkins: Sad news indeed, I have some good memories of Ron on match days. He loved the banter with players and fans alike. RIP Ron your be sorely missed...

Sam Dennis: RIP Ron, a true gentleman who done so much for the club

Billy Reynolds: Thoughts go out to his family #RIPRon

James Barlow: such sad news, R.I.P Ron, condolences to his family.

Joe Killingback: Thoughts with Ron's family!

Sipho Mtyanda: condolences to Ron's Family, He Will Be Greatly Missed & Also Club Won't Be The Same Without Him.

Luke Foster:  Sad sad news... Won't be the same down there without him, condolences to the family.

Andy Hall: condolences to Ron's family, RIP Ron x

Leli Bejada: my condolences to his family what a lovely man he was r.i.p Ron x

Omari Delgado: This is really sad I wonderful man spoke to you Tuesday so heart breaking at this time

Anthony Da Silva: condolences to Ron's family. The place won't be the same without him.

Garry Mackin: RIP Ron

Dan Mackin: RIP Ron! Mr Barking!

Kim Clark: Fond memories of Ron x

Steve Munday: Rip Ron mr barking will be missed by many

Wayne Baker:  RIP Ron  will always remember our chats will be missed dearly

James Knibbs: Lovely man to talk to shocked to see him go rest in peace Ron your be missed by so many people

Billy Nicholls: R.I.P Ron

Cameron Geddes: Top man! So grateful for his friendliness down the years.

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Barking Football Club established 1880. Who play at Mayesbrook Park and formerly at the Vicarage Field.

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