Marine FC Chairman Paul Leary was named Sefton Unsung Hero of the Year, sponsored by River Law, at the 2024 Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards. Photo by Kevin Brown Photography

By Andrew Brown Stand Up For Southport

One of Merseyside football’s most dedicated figures has been honoured for decades of work in the game at the 2024 Pride Of Sefton Awards. 

Paul Leary, the Chairman of Marine Football Club in Crosby, won the Unsung Hero Award, sponsored by River Law, in a glittering awards night at The Grand in Southport.

Paul first became a fan of the club in 1964 seeing all the club’s many ups and downs, including their recent Liverpool Senior Cup victory, their legendary FA Cup 3rd Round tie against Tottenham Hotspur – and their current promotion play-off push! 

He has led £1 million fundraising to drive redevelopments at College Road and saw the club twice win the National Community Club of the Year Award.

Paul has also driven the growth of  Marine In The Community which supported thousands of local people during the Covid pandemic and saw donations of football kits and boots to impoverished children in Africa and in Asia. 

Marine FC Chairman Paul Leary was named Sefton Unsung Hero of the Year, sponsored by River Law, at the 2024 Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards. Photo by Kevin Brown Photography

Marine FC Chairman Paul Leary was named Sefton Unsung Hero of the Year, sponsored by River Law, at the 2024 Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards. Photo by Kevin Brown Photography

Marine Football Club CEO  James Leary said: “For 45 years, Paul has worked as a volunteer at Marine Football Club in a number of roles. Starting as a fan in 1964, before moving onto setting up a supporters group, the Marine Supporters Association in 1970, onto the management committee in 1978 then finally stepping up to be the club Chairman from 2004 which he is still to this day.

“Paul has never taken a wage. He has dedicated his whole life to serving Marine Football Club and the local community.

“His passion and his life has been to support a fantastic community club in any way that he can.

“For the last 19 years he has served as chairman, however even though his roles and responsibilities have changed over the years, he still spends seven days per week at the club doing anything and everything he can. 

“From talks to groups to support the reduction of knife crime, helping to run a weekly Sunday social with a bingo for the elderly, presenting awards at football tournaments, climbing ladders to change the fixtures board, going to the club every week to tidy litter from the ground and wiping down seats, doing all of the clubs accounts. You name it if there is a job to be done at Marine he has done it. 

“Marine won the National Community Club of the year in 2009 and 2010 which was an incredible achievement which has never been matched. He has also played a key role in the growth of Marine In The Community since its inception, supporting in many ways including the delivery of thousands of lunch parcels to pensioners during Covid.

“Paul has carried out so many community activities over the years, benefiting people internationally as well as people locally and nationally, such as:
– Donations of over 20,000 of kit to Kitaid which was delivered to Africa
– Donations of 1,000 football boots to Africa and Thailand
“On the field, through nothing but hard work, he has helped the club to become one of the most recognised non-league clubs in the country. His work has helped the club to achievements such as the 3rd round FA Cup tie against Spurs in 2021.

“Off the field he has overseen 5 major developments over the last 25 years of the stadium and fundraised over £1m to deliver the changes.

“His achievements for his club and his community and the scale of his achievements will never be equalled.”

Marine FC Chairman Paul Leary was named Sefton Unsung Hero of the Year, sponsored by River Law, at the 2024 Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards. Photo by Kevin Brown Photography

Marine FC Chairman Paul Leary was named Sefton Unsung Hero of the Year, sponsored by River Law, at the 2024 Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards. Photo by Kevin Brown Photography

The 2024 Pride Of Sefton Awards saw 13 categories on the night at The Grand in Southport, with incredible stories behind all the finalists. 

There were over 1,300 nominations for community figures from Southport, Bootle, Crosby, Formby, Maghull and across Sefton. 

The Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards were organised by Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group and Stand Up For Southport in association with media partners In Demand Radio. 

The night was hosted by In Demand Radio presenter Claire Simmo, with entertainment from Whitney Houston tribute performer Michelle Lawson, soul singer Dave Broe and DJ Baz Todd. 

Marine FC Chairman Paul Leary was named Sefton Unsung Hero of the Year, sponsored by River Law, at the 2024 Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards. Paul Leary with Cllr Les Byrom. Photo by Kevin Brown Photography

Marine FC Chairman Paul Leary was named Sefton Unsung Hero of the Year, sponsored by River Law, at the 2024 Grand Pride Of Sefton Awards. Paul Leary with Cllr Les Byrom. Photo by Kevin Brown Photography

As Sefton celebrates its 50th birthday, VIP guests attending the awards included Sefton Council Leader Cllr Marion Atkinson; Mayor of Sefton Cllr June Burns; and council Chief Executive Phil Porter. 

Also enjoying the evening were boxing world title challenger Martin Murray and Liverpool FC legend Gary Gillespie. 

Pictures on the night were taken by Kevin Brown Photography with videography by Zack Downey from ZED Productions

Fundraising took place on the night with proceeds going to ICU Steps, the intensive care patient support charity. 

 

  • For more details about Marine Football Club please visit: marinefc.com

 

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