Community Hero honours for Rotherham grassroots football legend

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A Rotherham local and Town Council employee who has been an active member of the grassroots football community since childhood has had his commitment recognised.

Stephen Bradford is the first recipient of Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care’s Community Hero Award in the North.

The branch on Effingham Street didn’t hesitate to nominate Stephen, a customer for more than 20 years, and present him with a luxury afternoon tea hamper and £100 Scrivens voucher.

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Scrivens branch manager Carina Kelly said: “Stephen is such an inspiring person, and we’re delighted to have awarded him the title of Community Hero. An active member of the grassroots football community in Rotherham, Stephen has become a local legend thanks to his dedication to supporting the town’s children through sport.

Scrivens Rotherham team with Community Hero, Stephen BradfordScrivens Rotherham team with Community Hero, Stephen Bradford
Scrivens Rotherham team with Community Hero, Stephen Bradford

“My son plays grassroots football, and I can see how much time, energy and passion goes into organising the teams, games and everything else that makes the clubs run smoothly. The fact that Stephen dedicates so much time to the sport is truly inspiring. In 25 years, he’s never taken a personal fee when officiating matches. The fee has always returned to grassroots football, giving local children more opportunities and creating jobs for others. He’s the true spirit of grassroots!

“We’re delighted to give Stephen a well-earned treat and thank him for everything he’s achieved.”

Stephen, who’s in his fifties and has lived in Rotherham for his whole life, started playing grassroots football as a child and has been involved in the community ever since.

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He started officiating games over 25 years ago and has never taken a referee fee, allowing the clubs to maintain this income. To advance this, Stephen recently worked with Becky Dawson, Club Welfare Officer at Greasbrough Youth FC, to create an official fund where his fees are used to support the education of trainee referees. It’s already paid for several young adults to complete the official Football Association (FA) course, with more enrolling over the coming months.

Stephen believes that football's real meaning is happening at the grassroots level and that it is more than just a game.

He added: “I was very surprised and honoured to be told about my award and look forward to enjoying my afternoon tea. I can’t take all the credit, as it’s the children and families involved in the clubs I work with that make my involvement in grassroots football so worthwhile.

“It gives me a great sense of pride to see children engaging with and developing both their physical football skills and social skills alongside their teammates and competitors. It’s the highlight of many of the children and their family or guardian’s week – it gives them a way to escape their daily life and brings players together from every background.

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“In my experience, grassroots football has the power to improve mental, physical and social wellbeing, setting in motion positive changes and friendships for those involved which can last a lifetime.

“I’m proud to have been involved as a referee for a quarter of a century and hope that the fees I’ve donated have gone some way to help the teams continue their incredible work. I look forward to being involved for many more years ahead!”

Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care is a family run business which was established over 85 years ago in 1938. It has 169 high-street stores in towns and cities across England and Wales, with 1,000 employees. For more information, visit