Vernum picks up top award for more than 55 years service

Derek Vernum at Craven Cottage with his Unsung Hero award.
Derek Vernum at Craven Cottage with his Unsung Hero award.
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Peterborough’s Derek Vernum has done it all in football and after winning a national award, he hopes the younger generation will follow his lead.

Vernum last week picked up the NLFA Unsung Hero gong at The Non-League Paper’s National Game Awards in association with the NLFA.

The event, held at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, saw him honoured for over 55 years service to football as a player, coach, administrator, scout, president and director of Northamptonshire FA.

But Vernum insists he never expected to receive recognition for his work, especially on a national scale.

“Winning this award has made me feel very emotional but I’m very honoured because it is a national award. I’m just delighted,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting this in the slightest because it’s on a national scale. You expect people in your immediate vicinity, your own little burrow so to speak, to be aware of what you’re doing but I didn’t expect it to be recognised nationally.

“It’s unbelievable – I’m totally amazed, surprised and delighted.

“Hopefully this will encourage others to get involved. My days are coming to an end, so hopefully it will encourage younger people to come into the game.

“What I’d really say is to look at me – I’ve had this marvellous award, so roll up your sleeves, do what you can and it could be you in a few years time.”

Of all his roles, Vernum says his time as youth team manager at Peterborough United will always hold a special place in his heart.

And while he will still be involved with football, Vernum admits it will be hard to top those memories.

“I still have people come to me about the game – just this week there has been a referee problem and I’m trying to deal with that in a dignified manner,” he added.

“I’ll be helping in any way I can.

“But in the early days, what I really enjoyed was helping young people get into the game, which I did as youth team manager of Peterborough United and at county level.

“That has been the highlight – to help somebody along the way and to see them succeed in the professional game is fantastic.”

The NLFA are delighted to have sponsored the National Game Awards.

With a new membership package coming soon to include Income & Career Ending Insurance, The NLFA are becoming a very important role in the lives of Non-League footballers. Visit http://www.thenlfa.com/ for more information.