A FOOTBALL referee who rose from the ranks of local league matches to officiating at big games throughout Europe has died aged 82.

Ray Chadwick, from Darwen, who died after a short illness, developed his interest in football as a youngster when he played in the Darwen League.

He worked at Shaws Newsagents on Railway Road before buying the business.

His wife, Marina, whom he married in 1958, and father to Garry and Pam, ran the shop while Ray pursued his refereeing career - even though he initially refused!

One of his favourite stories was when Leeds and Scottish international Joe Jordan once threw himself horizontally two-footed off the ground right under Ray’s nose.

He initially blew up for dangerous play, but as the ball flew into the top corner, and the Elland Road crowd went wild he decided that his whistle was just perfect to signal not a free-kick – but a goal!

He was also the man in the middle at the infamous game between Derby and Fulham at the old Baseball Ground.

Fulham needed victory at Derby to stand any chance of winning promotion to the First Division; Derby needed all the points to be sure of avoiding relegation to the Third.

At half-time, the game was goalless but the 21,142 crowd were very tense. It was Ray who complained to police that not only was the linesman on the Pop Side covered in spit, he had also been struck by a salt cellar thrown from the home crowd.

And in another memorable moment, he was once running the line at a big League match with a ref who was overbearing and officious.

He made the mistake of wagging his finger at the other linesman at the half-time break. The lad picked him up and slammed him against the changing room wall. He explained very carefully that ex-Barnsley miners don’t take too kindly to that kind of admonition.

As well as football, he was a keen athlete and helped to organise early triathlon events in Darwen in the mid-80s. Marina won the second one held in 1985.

A requiem mass will be held at St Joseph’s at 10.45am today, followed by interment at Darwen Eastern Cemetery.

Mourners are asked to wear brightly-coloured football shirts.