Harefield FC stalwart loses cancer battle
TRIBUTES have been paid to Harefield United FC president and club stalwart Keith Ronald, who died on January 25.
The 64-year-old grandfather ( pictured), who lost a long battle with cancer, was a former player and chairman at the club. During an association with the Breakspear Road North club which lasted around 30 years, Mr Ronald played for the team until his 50s, realising a long ambition to share the pitch with his sons Simon and Colin.
Club life vice-president Ray Green said Harefield United would never be the same again. He said: “He was very well liked and very well known. He will be a bigger miss than most people realise for the club.”
Mr Ronald’s passing is the second tragedy to hit the football club in recent weeks, after Dave West, a former president, died over Christmas.
Mr Green said: “Together they were Harefield United. It’s not a good time at the club at the moment.”
Manager Phil Granville, who was given the job by Mr Ronald said: “He was Mr Harefield really. He was fantastic, an absolute gentleman in everything he did.”
Mr Ronald, who lived in Harefield with his wife Delma, started playing for the club in the mid 1990s.
He became a committee member in 2000 and chairman in 2002. During the time in this position, which he held until last year before vacating it to become president, he oversaw a number of major improvements at the club. These included the club winning pitch of the year, and the club’s much admired youth set-up.
Mr Green, who now runs the youth set-up, said: “He encouraged youths in the village and the local area to take part. He was the man that did everything. You’d see him out there on match day in the freezing cold in his shirt and sleeves doing everything that needed to be done.
“He was a get-up-and-do person, not talk-about-it person. He kept talking about his Scottish blood and said that’s why he could go out in the cold! One of his proudest moments was when he played alongside his boys. He carried on playing well into his 50s to make sure he could have a game with Simon and Colin.”
Mr Green said the club meant everything to Mr Ronald, and this was never more apparent when it emerged he would not recover from his illness.
“In the last couple of weeks all he talked about was coming up to watch the games. He was here right up until last Saturday (January 17), when he came to watch his final game. It was against Dunstable and a 1-1 draw,” said Mr Green.
His funeral takes place at Breakspear Crematorium on February 10, the same day as his beloved Harefield United play at home against Oxhey Jets.