I begin by thanking the association most sincerely for allowing me the privilege to share this personal tribute with the membership.
Having known George (GBS or in early years Mr Smith) since the day I joined the EDRA in 1977, it was in January 2016 that our relationship took on a completely new slant for reasons out-with football.
Prior to this, I was as aware, as were all other members, of the unrivalled career George enjoyed in terms of refereeing, all of which has been well documented and will remain documented in the history of this association.
Whilst I will always be aware of the success George enjoyed, both on and off the field, it is the more personal side of George that I have the great pleasure of sharing with you all.
George and I readily acknowledged and agreed that we could not be considered as ‘buddies’, albeit he had been instrumental during my refereeing career or should I say he ensured I remained there until my retirement from the senior list in May 2000. Nevertheless, we had mutual respect and the call I referred to above in 2016 was to move things in a different direction.
I do not use the word ‘Dignified’ to often, but I assure you that from that day forward and until his sad passing, George epitomised the meaning of the word in every sense of it. He took me into his confidence and something that remained there until the latter months of his life when he thought he should release me from what he called a ‘burden’. I never considered it that, yet also respected his opinion. I have to say at this juncture that it was my pleasure to offer any support for a man who had provided the same for me.
In the early days following diagnosis of Prostate Cancer, George was placed on medication and closely monitored, albeit even then, he had a very good idea of the eventual prognosis / outcome. Notwithstanding, never at any stage did he resort to self-pity or defeatism but instead being an extremely proud man, he fought through things whilst only thinking of others.
I was allowed and extremely privileged to share in George’s journey, regularly visiting to enjoy long chats, nostalgia and his aspirations for the younger members looking to replicate the success George enjoyed from refereeing.
Regular Monday visits included Hot X buns on offer from Pamela, when she was also more than happy to throw in her tuppence worth into the varied topics of conversation.
George was also a very proud family man, married to Pamela and their two children (Euan and Lynsey) gifting them with four lovely grandchildren. Away from refereeing, and particularly after retirement from the day job, it was the family that took up most of George’s time, including some excellent cruises that Pamela and he enjoyed.
I would like to suggest that if ‘Legends’ exist in football, then that was what George achieved in terms of his 58 years as a member, during which witnessed him refereeing at a level only some can dream off.
He was extremely proud and supportive of this association to the end. Whilst he fought his illness with great dignity and support from his loving family, he may have succumbed to the illness, but I would suggest that his memory will live long with us all.
One fond memory I share with you in terms of refereeing took place when we attended the various Observers meetings, where for some obscure reason, George insisted that I sat close to him when it came to the Laws of the Game tests. I can only assume he got the same results as me then, and therefore, albeit only on the odd occasion………..for that I’m truly sorry George.
A gentleman, his standards were of the highest calibre throughout his career, and on becoming a ‘Supervisor’ (As it was known in those days), you would only have to ask referees who allowed unparliamentary language to pass without intervening what the feedback was like.
In closing, I am aware that a separate note has been posted regarding George’s funeral arrangements, and I would like to think that time permitting in our busy lives, as many as possible can attend to say farewell to our ‘Legend’ and show respect and support for the family at this desperately sad time.
Thank you yet again for allowing me this platform to share some of my thoughts with you.
Tuesday, 28th May
Warriston Crematorium, 36 Warriston Road, Edinburgh EH7 4HW