Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Remembering Stanley Lover
by Paul Gardner, December 30th, 2013 7:09PM
Subscribe to SoccerTalk with Paul Gardner

MOST READ
TAGS:  referees

MOST COMMENTED

By Paul Gardner

So another friend has gone. I can't say Stanley Lover was a close friend -- we didn't see enough of each other for that. But he was a dear friend, a respected friend, and I am greatly saddened to hear of his passing.

I don’t remember the first time I met Stanley Lover. But that seems right. Because everything about Stanley was low key. And that was how our friendship began, quietly, modestly, almost tentatively. But it grew quickly, even though we only met up maybe once a year.

Mostly we met at the Dallas Cup. We talked soccer of course, and we talked a lot about refereeing. That was Stanley’s special interest.

In his youth in England, Stanley had shown promise as a player -- enough to get him on to the youth team at Charlton Athletic, then a major first division club. But there was to be no athletic glory. Stanley was hit with a severe bout of tuberculosis -- which was, in the 1930s, a dangerous, often fatal disease.

Recovery was slow. A future without soccer loomed, but that was not to Stanley’s liking. He turned his thoughts to refereeing. As he studied to become an engineer, he also trained as a referee. He succeeded at both, becoming a Chartered Mechanical Engineer (I think that’s what it was), and embarking on a refereeing career that included 11 years of experience in the Football League, which, in those pre-Premier League days, was the top level of the English game.

It was eerie to find how close our lives had been. As Stanley told me how he used to travel to East London for one of his first jobs, I butted in -- “Right next to where my mother and father once lived” -- and so it went. He mentioned his first apartment in South London -- in Shooter’s Hill Road, bringing on another interruption as I recalled how, in 1953, I was barreling along that very road on my powerful new 650cc motorcycle, and received a speeding ticket for my efforts (I still have that ticket -- now why on earth did I keep that?). Then there his early ventures into amateur theater with Gilbert & Sullivan operettas -- I broke in again “But that was my mother’s forte -- she had trained at the Royal College of Music ... ”

And so it went -- much later, Stanley sent me a copy of his autobiography (“Chronicles of A Timid Lover”) in which he set out the tale of a lucky escape. It was December 1957, Stanley was working in London (so too was I) -- and the city was in the grips of what must have been one of the last of the thick London pea-souper fogs. Stanley made his way -- slowly groping through the fog-bound streets -- to Charing Cross Station to catch his evening train home. He got there late, and missed his train. That was where luck shone on him. The train he missed got as far as Lewisham in South London, where it was involved in a deadly accident -- 92 deaths, 150 injured. I called Stanley -- he lived in Paris -- to announce yet another coincidence. My cousin was on that train, and had been severely injured in the crash.

We got off to a flying start, Stan and I, we seemed to be tuned precisely to each other’s sensitivities. But we were soon having a colossal disagreement over the sending off of Antonio Rattin during the England-Argentina quarter final of the 1966 World Cup. Stanley took the side of the German referee Rudolf Kreitlein and said that Rattin was to blame for everything. I insisted that Rattin had done nothing wrong, and that Kreitlein had made an absurd and horrendous error.

That first Lover-Gardner disagreement was never resolved, and now it never will be. There were plenty to follow, but somehow they were always just disagreements. Never heated arguments -- it never came to that. How could it -- how could one shout at this mild mannered man, who never raised his own voice? Unthinkable. With Stanley, you were confronted with a man made of smiles. Of course his mouth smiled, modestly, agreeably -- but so too did his eyes, and his eyebrows and his voice -- and his whole intelligent face.

That is not to say that Stanley was a mild man. Because there was authority to his mildness. He needed that as a referee, and understood very clearly how to assert himself without being a bully. Leadership was natural to him and he served for years as President of the Football League Referees Association and The London Referees Society.

But it was through that seductive aura of smiles that Stanley taught me so much about referees and refereeing and the rules of the game. Laws, he said -- but he did acknowledge in an article for FIFA News that rules was probably a better, a more modern, word. That pleased me. I was less enchanted with the fact that he’d written a number of refereeing books of the “how-to” genre. I said to him that I’d read such books, and never found them convincing. I got a lovely smile in reply, and “That’s because you’ve never read one of mine.”

So I did read a couple of his books (both of them, as it happens used the word “Rules” in their titles) and found what I should have known I would find: Refereeing with a smile. They were fun to read, never boring. You could learn with this sympathetic instructor, almost without realizing you were being taught.

There was definitely a didactic streak to Stanley’s personality. Evidently FIFA thought so too. After his retirement he spent over 20 years as a FIFA instructor, conducting referee training courses all over the globe.

But it was the more intimate one-on-one courses that Stanley gave to me that mattered -- maybe in a corner of a bar (we sought the corners, we didn’t seek company), maybe sitting, or standing, together at a game (at games, Stanley was always telling me to watch the referee -- “Look at that, how he runs backwards, so light, like a feather almost, hardly touching the ground.”

You need to know: Stanley was not only a qualified engineer and a top referee -- he was a splendid golfer, and he was an artist and a painter. Stanley had all the necessary background that would have made him a stuffy English bore. But he developed -- developed himself, but no doubt with a lot of help from his charming French wife Gilberte -- into something utterly different. He became a modern Renaissance man, full of life, with a great love of soccer.

Yet, you know, such was my attachment to Stanley, that the soccer barely matters. I remember him as a wonderfully warm and pleasant and sympathetic gentleman, always a delight to be with, an honor to have as a friend. Keep smiling, Stanley.


4 comments
  1. Zoe Willet
    commented on: December 30, 2013 at 9:30 p.m.
    What a marvelous eulogy!
  1. Eric Offner
    commented on: December 30, 2013 at 11:32 p.m.
    I love your writing Once said hello at Adelphi game to you. You resolved a lifetime belief that Argentine captain was wrongly dismissed in game against England even though I was wildly rooting for England sitting at Wembley in 1966. Wish someone will write such a beautiful obituary about me
  1. bill steffen
    commented on: December 30, 2013 at 11:44 p.m.
    Hello, I'm sorry for your loss. Good luck. Take care.
  1. Randy Vogt
    commented on: December 31, 2013 at 6:40 a.m.
    Both Stanley and I are referees who became authors. But he wrote more referee books than any of our colleagues or I will ever attempt to write. Stanley could have viewed me as a competitor or looked down at me as I do not have the lengthy professional resume that he did but, instead, he was a very bright light. Any interaction that we had to each other's writings was very positive. Thank you, Paul, for a wonderful obituary. May Stanley rest in peace! Randy

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent SoccerTalk with Paul Gardner
Will fear of goalscoring affect MLS Cup 2016?     
Back in the 1970s I recall watching a soccer panel on English TV. They were discussing ...
The Klinsmann Interlude (Part 3): Damage Repair -- Bruce Arena returns: Tab Ramos waits     
Bruce Arena never had any doubts about his own ability to move smoothly and successfully from ...
The Klinsmann Interlude (Part 2): Total Failure to Acknowledge Latino Presence    
For decades now, a very special and specific conundrum has been making its presence felt in ...
The Klinsmann Interlude (Part 1): A Sorry Experience for American Soccer     
Sunil Gulati has done the difficult thing, fired his buddy Jurgen Klinsmann -- someone he had ...
The Howard Years -- Remembering Keith Aqui (1945-2016)    
There comes a reminder -- a sad reminder, alas -- from the 1970s. The death of ...
Playoff refereeing: A tricky business    
Playoff time always brings with it much discussion of playoff soccer. Which is held to be, ...
Carlos Alberto: One of Soccer's Greatest (1944-2016)    
Carlos Alberto, one of the sport's true greats, dead at 72. Unexpected, almost unbelievable. For me, ...
The Mauro Diaz tragedy: MLS at fault    
So we've seen the last of Mauro Diaz for this season. He will not be part ...
Another over-hyped game turns into an unwatchable 0-0 bore-draw    
You will have been aware of the recent game between Liverpool and Manchester United. Won't you ...
The Maturing of Wayne Rooney    
Wayne Rooney's career is coming to a close. Which seems ridiculous, given that my memory informs ...
>> SoccerTalk with Paul Gardner Archives