Local soccer referee, Marky Lucas, who died suddenly at the age of 47 this week. Photo: Noel Browne.
The football family in Waterford was plunged into a profound sense of devastation on Friday last when the shocking news filtered through of the sudden death of well-known Waterford Schoolboy League referee Marky Lucas, Central Avenue, Lisduggan. He was just 47 years old.
Marky was one of these great characters of the local game and had a great passion for underage football firstly as a player before going onto manage his local club, St. Paul’s Football Club until his decision to take up refereeing many years ago.
While there’s no doubting that Marky had a great love for refereeing, his love for his beloved “Parish” was never as evident then at the WIT Arena the day before his shock demise as he really got behind the young kids of St. Paul’s NS in their Willie Moran tournament final against St. Declan’s.
He was the man that would always take charge of that final over the years but he handed over the whistle to his great friend Michael “Falla” Wall and it was no surprise that he became vocal on the sidelines in trying to encourage his local team land a final success.
Little did the football public think that when Marky left the Carriganore venue on Thursday evening that it would be his final contribution to the game as his passing has without doubt not only shocked the Parish but Waterford as a whole.
After lining out for the Parish on many an occasion, Marky along with his late brother Paddy, took up the managerial role with the underage teams at the St. Paul’s club where he unearthed some of the talent of the Larchville/Lisduggan area.
He took pride in trying to ensure that the kids in the area were given the opportunity to play the game and after deciding to take a step in another direction – into the world of refereeing, he forged many great friendships across the city and county.
After making a phone call to the current secretary of Seaview Celtic Sean O’Brien over 12 years ago, Marky became the official registered referee for the Annestown club where he took charge of many of top games across Waterford.
Marky built up a great rapport with the players on the field where he also gained the respect of the players instead demanding it. The man himself would be also the first to admit that he could be a wind-up merchant when it came to banter and I suppose that’s what really made him a distinctive character of our beautiful game.
As the footballing family in Waterford still attempts to come to terms with the loss of such an influential figure on the local scene, Waterford Schoolboy League secretary Pat Kelly said, “Marky was a great character and a most obliging referee, helping everyone who asked him. He had a vast knowledge of the local grapevine, so was a source of much information, which he always dispensed with a laugh.
“A few years ago, we hosted the South Dublin league and one of their officials was a senior referee’s assessor in Dublin. He declared that Marky was one of the finest schoolboy referees he had ever seen and that he would love to have him in Dublin.
“Marky knew, and was known by, almost everyone in football in Waterford and his humour and dedication will be deeply missed by us all. In passing sincere sympathy to the Lucas family I hope they find comfort in the knowledge that Marky was appreciated by so many people.”
The final whistle has certainly sounded on Marky Lucas early in life but I’m sure that we can all take comfort of the fact that he left his mark on the game that we all love so much for his love, passion and desire to do well. To his family and friends in football, we offer our deepest and sincere sympathy. May he rest in peace.