2010 Centurion Awards For Service to Lacrosse

Richard Ambler and Jon Cooper are the latest recipients of a Centurion Award for Service to Lacrosse. Each was presented with an engraved silver salver and a framed citation by Lord Taylor of Edmonton at the Centurion Club Annual Dinner held at the House of Lords.

Centurion Awards are made to individuals who are considered to be worthy of recognition for the service that they have given to the game either on or off the field of play. Typical of the reasons for the award are exceptional performance as a player; exceptional contribution in developing new schools, junior teams or clubs; extraordinary loyal continuous work in holding a club together; or exceptional administrative work.

Both recipients had worked continuously to maintain and develop their clubs but each was also outstanding in developing new fixtures systems for the NEMLA and the SEMLA respectively. As lacrosse has expanded nationwide, the earlier systems for planning the annual fixture programme, recording the results and maintaining the several league tables could not have coped.

The citations presented to Richard Ambler and Jon Cooper were:

Richard Ambler

Richard is a member of the Ambler family who have all been regular players for, and leaders of, Ashton-under-Lyne since the inter-war years so it was natural for him to graduate from playing for Audenshaw Grammar School as soon as he was big enough.

During a playing career that lasted for 40 years, he served in a series of leadership roles, namely Team Captain, Treasurer, Match Secretary, Social/Publicity Secretary, and President. When he ceased playing, he refereed regularly. He became the Lancashire representative on the N.E.L.A. for which he was appointed Fixture Secretary and is still Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee.

Club and Country have many reasons to be grateful for Richard's varied contributions to lacrosse but the most enduring appreciation must be for his ten-year work as N.E.L.A. Fixture Secretary. He inherited a hand-written set of schedules collated into one master schedule. Preparation of the basic season schedule occupied many days, even impinging on his summer holidays. Postponements for weather or Flag matches generated awesome complications.

Richard recognised the potential benefits of new computer technology. He consulted a Manchester University mathematics lecturer to devise a formula; learned from the Football League how they planned and recorded fixtures; and commissioned a computer programmer to design new software. The system gave surer control at the start of each season; quicker reactions when postponements occurred; speedier, reliable recording of results; and improved relationships with clubs and the press. Without such improvements, the game of lacrosse could not expand.

Richard's unique contribution, in addition to all his other roles, will be invaluable for years ahead and fully deserves a Centurion Award for Service to Lacrosse.

Jon Cooper

Jon started playing lacrosse as a founder member of the Southampton University Club and immediately adopted a positive leadership role as Social Secretary and Fixtures Secretary. After graduation, he continued to combine his pleasure of playing with his enthusiasm for development when he played for Hitchen, Hillcroft and Bournemouth. He became Treasurer and Fundraiser at Hillcroft and Club Secretary at Bournemouth.

During the seasons before he ceased playing due to living too far from a club, he became concerned about the paucity of information about match results and league positions and the lack of incentive for teams that did not know where they stood in their league table. He collected results within his league and published them on the internet. Demand led him to provide a similar service for other leagues. This comprehensive but unofficial results service led to his election as the S.E.M.L.A. Fixtures Secretary.

The remarkable growth of the S.E.M.L.A. during the past decade has required several changes to the league structure to accommodate hundreds of extra fixtures. Jon has dedicated much time to ensure the smooth running of the Association's fixture schedules. Even the benefit of new computer systems leaves much work. During the 2009-2010 season, approximately 25% of fixtures had to be rearranged due to bad weather. This generated more than 1500 e-mails from clubs.  A key element of his ability to provide such an excellent service is his quiet and patient manner when dealing with the many surprises that greet him daily. Problems are dealt with professionally and painlessly.

Absolutely reliable, completely dedicated and an excellent team member of the S.E.M.L.A. Committee, Jon is a worthy recipient of a Centurion Award for Service to Lacrosse.