TRIBUTES will flow for the undisputed champion of Orange's soccer community when Bernie Stedman is laid to rest on Tuesday.
Mr Stedman passed away on April 19 - Good Friday - two days short of what would have been his 89th birthday.
His lifetime of service to Orange soccer, and Orange and District Football Association causes in particular, will be a central theme at his funeral service, scheduled for 11am at Orange Cemetery.
We will miss his presence on game days and his valued advice on the game he loved.Orange District Football Association
Mr Stedman's involvement with the sport in the city can be traced back as far as the 1950s when, in his early 20s, he laced up the boots for the Wanderers club, before a stint with Email Rangers.
In 1980 he turned his hand to refereeing, and spent in excess of three decades' worth of Saturdays with whistle in hand, while also serving as appointments officer, referees' inspector, and conducting referee classes.
At the same time he served on both the ODFA and Orange District Football Referees Association executives, as senior vice-president and president respectively.
His service was duly recognised by several bodies, with Sir Jack Brabham Park's main, enclosed field named in his honour in 2013, and a Football NSW State Award issued in late 2014.
In a post on its Facebook page, the ODFA started what will undoubtedly be a long chain of tributes to a "much-respected and long-time stalwart".
"[He] happily imparted his vast knowledge and experience of the game to young referees and players," the post read.
"Bernie was also a very valued and enthusiastic committee member of both associations, and we will miss his presence on game days and his valued advice on the game he loved."
The efforts of Mr Stedman and his wife, June, in operating the canteen at Sir Jack Brabham Park had led to a mass of improvements to grounds and facilities "from which our football community greatly benefits to this day".
"His passion for football was very evident in his active involvement throughout his life. He will be very sadly missed," the post continued.
"Our deepest sympathies go to our close friends June and Glenn and to all of Bernie's family and friends."
Mr Stedman's family requested donations to the ODFA at the funeral in lieu of flowers.
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