Chairman of West Norfolk club is a ‘grassroots’ hero

A devoted chairman of a West Norfolk football club has been honoured with a 2023 Grassroots Hero Award.

AFC Lynn Napier’s Billy Simper has been recognised for going above and beyond for his respective club.

Clubs participating in this year’s Fosters Solicitors Anglian Combination Football League, which encompasses 96 teams across Norfolk and Suffolk, were invited to nominate

Simper was nominated and stood out for his “personal drive and commitment” in growing AFC Lynn Napier from its establishment in 2016.

The club currently competes in Division Four of the Anglian Combination League and through his chairmanship have also developed a strong reserve, veteran and youth team set-up.

Coach Daniel Turner, who nominated Simper, said: “We believe Billy should be recognised as the key driver in helping grow AFC Lynn as a club and involve so much of the youth within our area.

“Under Billy’s guidance we have a growing first team in the Anglian Combination and are getting sponsorship boards around the pitch to make this a place that people want to come and play.

“Our reserves and Under-18s both enjoyed league and cup success last year – and many of these players have now made the step up into our first team.

“This season we have added an Under-7s and an Under-12s team, as well as bringing back the Veterans’ team.

“Billy doesn’t just operate as a chairman, he actively gets involved with each team by attending their training and games.

“All of this is being done whilst he now needs a walking stick or mobility scooter to get around – but that doesn’t stop him from trying to help build the club in the Wiggenhall St Germans/Lynn community.

“The amount of effort that Billy puts into this club and making it a place for youngsters to come to, despite his health challenges, is incredible and in my opinion and others in the club, needs to be recognised.”

Simper’s award also brings with it a brand-new Macron kit for AFC Lynn for the 2023-24 season.

Darragh Leman, of Castle Acre Swifts FC, was one of two highly commended runners-up.