Football community mourns the passing of referee Mick Fletcher
There is unlikely to be an amateur footballer in Burnley who has not found themselves on the receiving end of a wisecrack from referee Michael “Mick” Fletcher.
The stalwart football official died last week aged 70 after a short, courageous fight with illness.
His passing will be mourned considerably by the local football community, who can recall "Fletch" refereeing with a big smile on his face and a joke at the ready.
A long-time member of Burnley Referees’ Society, Mick first took up the whistle at the age of 20 in 1969.
Beginning on the local parks in the Burnley and District League and the Burnley Sunday League, he soon progressed to become a class one official.
He was promoted to officiate on the Lancashire Amateur League (LAL) and then became a linesman on the North West Counties’ League (NWCL).
After he finished on the LAL and the NWCL after many years' service, he continued to referee on local parks as well as junior matches before retiring around 12 years ago.
Fellow referee and long-time friend Phil Vercoe said: “Mick was a great laugh to be with.
“I have officiated many times with him over the years and he was a good referee.
“He was very fit, firm but fair and always commanded the respect of the players.
“I always remember once doing a game with him in the North West Counties' League. We were both linesmen.
“Anyway Mick seemed to have a problem. When the referee went over to ask what was wrong, Mick said, ‘I’ve just stood in some dog muck’.”
Away from refereeing Mick was a keen Burnley fan and used to follow the Clarets home and away when his refereeing commitments would allow.
Indeed, he lived in Brunshaw, just a short walk away from his two favourite places, Turf Moor and Towneley - where he would often be found either refereeing or taking his beloved dogs Billy and Teddy for walks.
Mick worked at Michelin for several years and then went on to hold positions at Crow Wood Hotel and Spa Resort, Kitchens Garage and Protec during semi-retirement.
A family man, Mick was married to Judith for 48 years and they had a daughter Gail and a son Martin. He was also grandfather to Nicole and Matt.
Judith said: "Mick was a great personality. Every time we went out on a night out, he would say, 'We won't stop too long Judith'.
"But lo and behold, we would always be the last ones to leave."
A twin brother to the late Mary, Mick leaves behind sisters Veronica, Jean and Anne, son-in-law Julian and daughter-in-law Laura.
His funeral will be held on Tuesday, June 9. His cortege will pass Turf Moor shortly after 2pm, along Todmorden Road and Rossendale Road to his final resting place at Burnley cemetery.
A family service at the cemetery chapel will take place at 2.30pm. Mick will be buried alongside his parents at the family grave. Anyone wishing to pay their respect are welcome to attend.