George (Geordie) Richardson’s devotion to Portadown Football Club ran far deeper than simply singularly defined by his 30 years of service as team attendant.
But, in the aftermath of his passing late on Tuesday night following a short battle with illness, it is in that role that the club, town and football family will remember the boyhood fan who became one of the most respected and trusted figures associated with Portadown.
In 2013, Geordie spoke of his pride at playing a part within the inner sanctum which spanned Shamrock Park’s greatest glory days and ended this summer at the age of 73.
“The lads have always treated me with great respect, with some superb friendships built over the years around the game,” he said following the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement award. “I love visiting other clubs and catching up with old friends and am happy to be able to help out in some small way.
“We have had some big names at this club and some amazing times but the personal moments stand out the most.
“I have been lucky enough to travel around Europe with the Ports and had plenty of stand-out memories.
“Walking out for European competition as part of a squad representing your own town just fills you with pride.
“Winning the league for the first time in 1990 was obviously special but my personal highlight remains the Irish Cup final against Glenavon in 1991, just in terms of the atmosphere.
“As a fan, I recall cheering the 1953 Gold Cup-winning team when they showed off the trophy from the veranda at the Old Savoy Ballroom in West Street.
“I still think like a fan now.”
Although on matchdays this past season he spent most afternoons in the social club among friends and family just yards from his Rectory home, Geordie’s passion for the Ports remained undiminished.
It was fitting that his final appearance in a Portadown dressing room arrived during an exhibition match in August surrounded by many of the players from the golden era of the 1990s with whom he shared the fondest memories and proudest moments.
However, the depth of respect generations of players felt for the unassuming but ultra-professional Portadown stalwart was reinforced by the wide-ranging messages and calls of support to the Richardson family in the aftermath of the sad news late last week of Geordie’s illness.
A plaque erected a few seasons ago above a small area off to the side of the main Shamrock Park dressing room reads simply ‘Geordie’s Boot Room’ in recognition of that dedication.
It stands as a fitting mark of respect but is, in truth, redundant - no player who ever entered any area under Geordie’s command in search of a spare item of training gear or pair of boots was under any illusion who held the upper hand.
For those who shared in the success, secrets and suffering across decades of Portadown football, Geordie will always be remembered as one of the town and club’s great characters.
Funeral Service at the family home of 4 Moeran Park, Portadown from 11 o’clock on Friday morning followed by funeral at 12 o’clock in Thomas Street Methodist Church and committal at Kernan Cemetery.
Mourners can also pay respects following the committal at Portadown Football Club’s boardroom in Shamrock Park.
Donations in lieu of flowers c/o Milne Funeral Services, 59 Seagoe Road, Portadown, BT63 5HS.