A RESPECTED top-flight football referee and cricketer who became known as a pillar of Barnsley’s sporting community has died.

Trelford Mills, 77, died in Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield on Monday.

A well-known figure in local sporting circles, alongside working as a top-flight football referee Trelford was a talented cricketer, captaining Barnsley and playing for Stainborough for several years.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Stainborough Cricket Club said: “Trelford was a man with cricket in his heart, and devoted much of his life to the great game, both at Barnsley and at Stainborough.

“After finishing playing he was heavily involved behind the scenes in local cricket, with coaching, committee work and fund raising.

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“Trelford was an outstanding MC for our dinners, and used his many contacts in the sporting world to supply a great range of memorabilia for our fund-raising efforts.

“He was simply incomparable as an MC, and who can ever forget how he ran our games of stand up bingo and heads and tails to ensure that everyone had a fun evening.”

Trelford began his refereeing career in 1965 in the Barnsley and District leagues before working his way up the ladder to the Central and Football League.

In a career spanning more than two decades, Trelford became a well-respected and firm official, overseeing a UEFA Cup game in 1976 and an FA Challenge Trophy semi-final the following year.

He became social secretary of the Barnsley and District Referees’ Association in 1978, also becoming an honorary life member of the association in 2005.

Trelford will be well-remembered by a certain generation of Newcastle supporters, who for a time were convinced he had cheated them out of an FA Cup third round match against Brighton in January 1983, as he disallowed two goals that would have seen them progress in the competition.

Trelford and his assistants had to be escorted by police away from the stadium - and 2,000 rabid Magpies fans - with the Barnsley referee deemed one of the bravest men on Tyneside for his part in the match.

Coincidentally, one of the players denied on that day was Kevin Keegan, whose Newcastle debut Trelford had overseen earlier that season.

Trelford’s final match as the man in the middle was a First Division clash between Tottenham and Southampton in 1990, after which he retired at 48.

But he couldn’t leave the game completely and in his later years, Trelford worked as matchday liaison officer for Shaw Lane AFC in the Evostik League and could often be found chatting to Barnsley fans in Oakwell’s Legends Suite on matchdays.

Trelford’s funeral will take place next Friday at 11.30am at Dodworth St John the Baptist Church, arrangements by Simon T Anderson 733119.