Tributes to Leeds football referee who collapsed at junior match

COLLAPSED: Chris Leggatt had set a target of refereeing 100 games this season.
COLLAPSED: Chris Leggatt had set a target of refereeing 100 games this season.
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A super-fit referee who died after collapsing during a junior football match has been hailed an “inspiration”.

Chris Leggatt, who was 65, died after being taken ill during a game in Esholt, near Guiseley, last Sunday, September 23.

He had suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Mr Leggatt, who was a keen fell runner and is understood to have run several charity marathons, had set a target of refereeing 100 matches for the West Riding County Football Association this season.

Bobby Madley, referee development officer at the FA, said: “He was the kind of referee you want – he was reliable and his commitment was absolutely phenomenal. He was an inspiration to referees everywhere.”

Mr Leggatt, a father-of-four and grandfather-of-two from Pool in Wharfedale, was overseeing an under-18s’ game when he collapsed in the second half.

He was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary before being transferred to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, but doctors were unable to save him.

He had only been taking charge of matches for the West Riding FA for the last two seasons, having taken a course in the North Riding County area.

But Mr Madley said he took to the role with relish.

“He did it for the love of football and that came across to everybody. It’s the reason he will be so sadly missed and we’d like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family.”

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Mr Leggatt was also a former parish councillor and was heavily involved with several sports clubs in Pool. As chairman of Pool Tennis Club, he was involved in training the junior players.

He was also a well-respected figure at Pool AFC. Club secretary Peter Wilkinson said: “We lost a great servant to our club with the death of Chris.

“He was the sort of guy who would never say no if you ever needed a hand. He’d always be there to step in to referee a game at the last minute.”

Mr Leggatt leaves wife Sue and children Karen, Andrea, Duncan and Jonathan. His funeral will be held at Rawdon Crematorium on October 12.

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