Football NSW is today mourning the sad passing of one our games greatest ever ambassadors and 2019 George Churchward Medal winner Vince Laws.
His dedication, commitment, passion and love for the game and his beloved Canterbury Junior Football Club was second to none and will leave a massive absence not only in the Canterbury District Soccer Football Association, but our sport on a whole.
Vince started playing at the age of 11 with the Lilyfield Wanderers Club in the Canterbury Association and eventually played football for the Pyrmont Club in the old NSW Association.
At the time of the great split in the 1950s which saw the formation of the NSW Federation of Soccer Clubs, Vince stayed with the Association and played with the Pyrmont Balmain Club. He then went and played for a number of years with the St. George Club which competed in the NSW Federation of Soccer Club’s competition.
In 1964, Vince registered his son with the Canterbury Junior Football Club and was persuaded to coach a team in the Under 9 competition. Vince accepted the request to coach thinking he would do so for one year. How wrong he was, as he continued to coach teams with the Canterbury Club for 33 consecutive years. He also did a stint of 5 years with the APIA Club during this same period.
During his coaching career at Canterbury Junior Football Club, he coached the Premier League squad, both 1st and Reserve grades for 9 years. In that time, the reserve grade squad won the premiership 6 consecutive years and the CDSFA acknowledged this achievement in presenting the Perpetual Trophy to Vince in recognition of his achievements.
Vince also coached teams in the NSWASF Amateur Cup, winning the Tournament in 1982 when his Canterbury Junior side defeated Sylvania from Sutherland Association.
In 1994, Vince retired from major active coaching at Canterbury Junior Soccer Club after suffering a heart attack. Vince had somewhat of a reputation for being a very animated coach on the sideline when his teams were playing. So, he had to stop at the insistence of his wife Val.
From the period 1972 to 1985, Vince was the President of the Canterbury Junior Football Club. During this time, there were two break away clubs formed, Campsie United and Ashbury United. Throughout this period, Vince focused his energies on keeping the club strong and recruiting more junior players from local schools and other sports such as Rugby League.
Vince also coached Metropolitan Representative Teams for the Canterbury & District Soccer Football Association. Vince did this for nine consecutive years during which time the Association won a number of Metropolitan Representative Competitions conducted by the Sydney Branch of the NSW Amateur Soccer Federation.
A highlight for Vince was when his Metropolitan Representative team played a curtain raiser against Sutherland Association before the Manchester United game at the Sydney Sports Ground.
From the mid 1960’s Vince served the CDSFA on a continuous basis holding positions on the Appeals Committee, Grading Committee, Judiciary Committee, or Executive Committee of the Association. Vince eased back on his commitments to the Association in 2000, thinking it was time for some younger folks to take up roles.
When Vince ceased major active coaching in 1994, he took on the role of ground manager for the Canterbury Junior Football Club. Every weekend he was responsible for the two separate grounds from which the Canterbury Junior Football Club operates. He ensured the fields were properly marked, nets and corner posts were in order.
Over the last decade, Vince has looked after the young referees appointed to Lees Park and Croydon Park to ensure that adults do not harass or abuse junior referees. Vince still attends the park on a semi-regular basis, depending upon weather conditions.
Beginning in 1968, Vince’s late wife Val ran the Canteen for the Canterbury Junior Football Club and one of Vince’s additional chores, was to ensure deliveries have been received for the weekend, and where necessary, do “pickups” and keep tabs on the Canteen inventory. A role which only ceased in 2014, when Val felt it was time for someone else to be responsible for the Canteen operations.
Vince and Val both featured on the Football NSW television program “Football Stars of Tomorrow” which was shown on both Channel 9, SBS, Foxtel and One HD that ran from 2006 to 2010, which focused on community football in Associations.
In 1994, Vince was presented with a State Award by the NSW Amateur Soccer Federation. The Presentation was made by the then Chairman of the Australian Soccer Federation, John Constantine, on behalf of the NSWASF. In 2008 he received a special Soccer NSW Award for distinguished service to football.
In recognition of the contribution Vince and his late wife Val had made to their club and more broadly to the Canterbury & District Soccer Football Association, the CDSFA inaugurated the Vince and Val Laws Medal in 2013.
2019 marked the year Vince was honoured with the George Churchward Medal at the Football NSW State Dinner, presented annually to an individual who has exemplified an outstanding commitment to the sport – something Vince did and always went above and beyond.
At 91, Vince has now joined his lifelong partner Val in heaven.
Football NSW would like to pass on its deepest condolences to the Laws family, a great leader, ambassador and beautiful soul – Vince will always be remembered, may he rest in heavenly peace.