DONCASTER Rovers’ Community Foundation chief executive Eric Randerson is in the running for a top award.
The 53 year-old has been short-listed for the Europe-wide Stadium Business Awards in the unsung hero category and will travel to Barcelona for the ceremony later this month.
Eric, involved with the Foundation, formerly known as Rovers’ Football in the Community Scheme, for 24 years, was nominated by Nicola Moran - an administrator within the department.
In a supporting statement to the award organisers, she wrote: “Eric has worked many unpaid hours to ensure that the children of Doncaster maintain regular access to their local football club.
“He is so much more than just a football coach. He is a great friend to everyone he knows and is held in high regard by all at Doncaster Rovers.
“He treats everyone with respect and does not judge regardless of ability, sex, age or ethnicity. He is a genuine guy with a heart of gold.”
Eric said yesterday: “I’m obviously very honoured to have made it through to the last four. I think that I was nominated as a person who is always prepared to go the extra mile over the years and it is nice that fact seems to have been appreciated.”
Eric has seen the scheme grow from basically a two-man operation to an organisation covering five sections - education, social inclusion, participation, disability and environment.
Each section has it’s own manager and Eric also has five full-time coaches and various administrative staff working for him.
“We’ve got around 20 full-time staff and a number of part-time coaches - some of whom who have come up through the ranks,” he told The Star.
Although the Foundation receives monies from various sources since it achieved charitable status several years ago, Eric is quick to praise the support of the Doncaster directors - particularly chairman John Ryan - over the years.
“When we were promoted back to the Football League back in 2003, I think John realised that if the club was going to grow the community scheme needed to grow with it,” he said.
“The club have been very supportive over the years and they buy into everything that we do. Chief Executive Dave Morris is very pro active.
“Our head coaches and managers are all now based up at the training ground which means that there is a lot more integration between the community and manager Sean O’Driscoll now. Sean buys into everything that we do as well.”
As well as his work as head of the Community Foundation, Eric has always taken a keen interest in women’s football.
A former Doncaster Rovers Belles’ reserve team manager and first-team No 2, Eric recently steered the Keepmoat Stadium Ladies to Sheffield & Hallamshire FA Cup and league double.
Although he no longer holds any official role with the Belles, Eric still takes an interest in their affairs and is delighted to see them competing in the new FA Women’s Super League.
“I think that it is fantastic for the Belles and the town,” he said. “They just need a bit more support than they are getting - things are difficult for them at the moment.”
The three Rovers play are tackling the the NSPCC Childline Inca Trek next week will be at the Trespass Store (Inca Trek kit sponsors) at the Lakeside Village Shopping Outlet tomorrow at 1pm. Fans are welcome and there will be opportunities for autographs and photos with the three - Mark Wilson, James Coppinger and James O’Connor.