Francis Hillier MBE 1929-2023
It is with the greatest sadness that we have to report to you the death of Somerset FA President Francis Hillier MBE; who has passed way at the age of 94.
Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family, in particular his wife of many years Megan, son Brynn, daughter-in-law Jilly and his grandchildren, along with his many friends, both inside and outside football.
Francis has spent a life in service of the game of football in Somerset, in particular to the county association, but also to several leagues and Peasedown. A former player of Peasedown Miners Welfare FC, he followed his father in playing for the club, when he joined in 1946. Francis later became a member of the management committee for a number of years, serving as secretary of the club during his tenure. He also served at Clandown FC also acting as club secretary. Francis also took up the whistle, spending 17 years as a referee.
Francis had been a member of Somerset FA for an astonishing 51 years having joined the SFA Council in 1972, becoming a Life Member of the association as far back as 1993. During his tenure on council he served as Chair of Discipline, where his skills as a Justice of the Peace were invaluable, he also served as the chair of the Benevolent subcommittee for many years through which countless donations were made to injured players. For the last 27 years he has served as President of the Association where he was very much more than just a figurehead of Somerset FA. As President he was an ex-officio member of all committees and exercised the right to attend many of the various committees, where his wise and experienced counsel was always valued. In particular he attended many meetings of the representative team committee and very rarely missed representative team matches the committee organised, where he was a fervent, and vocal, supporter of Somerset teams. He would also take great pride in awarding our players with their county caps.
In 1999 he became one of the inaugural directors of Somerset FA and continued to serve in that capacity until his health caused him to step down in 2022, in the 23 years it is hard to remember him missing more than very small handful of meetings, and for those of us who attended we know it was very rarely simply a watching brief for him. Likewise, as a member of council, he habitually attended meetings until his health prevented that; he took great pride in particular in presenting ties and scarves to new councillors at their first meeting of Council. He also presented Life Memberships to councillors at AGM and the FA Fifty Year Long Service Award (Of which he was a proud recipient himself). Mindful of the honour of both, he would diligently prepare a speech outlining the service of the recipient when they were presented with their award, so their achievement was fully recognised.
Francis was also an avid supporter of the various county cup competitions; he rarely missed county finals and took great pride on presenting the cup to the winners. However, he didn’t just attend finals, he would attend a match somewhere almost every week during the season (often more than one as he would go to a mid-week floodlight game as well), with games ranging from the very top to the bottom of the pyramid in Somerset. In recent years health issues meant that he may watch a game at a recreation ground from his car to keep warm and dry in the winter, but he would still be there watching, and only in the last 12 months or so of his life did he stop attending.
His death leaves a huge gap; literally there is no one that has known Somerset FA without him.
He will be missed by all at Somerset FA.
His funeral will be held on Wednesday 6th December at 11am at Midsomer Norton Methodist Church. Donations in lieu of flowers to Cancer Research and The British Heart Foundation. Somerset FA offices will be closed on that date.