PLAYERS, parents and fellow coaches have joined forces to nominate an unsung hero for a prestigious award for his dedication to grassroots football.

Adrian Pickup is in the frame for a Press Community Pride Sporting Hero award in recognition of his support of Fulford Football Club over the past eight years by helping both his sons’ teams.

He is now standing down as head coach for Fulford U12s after seven full seasons, but will continue to support the Under16s from September.

Adrian has managed the Fulford U12s’ Vikings and Ebors teams since the children were under fives. As well as weekly training sessions and Sunday matches, he has organised trips to football tournaments in York and further afield, including a two-day tournament in Blackpool where the squad took over a whole guest house. He has also attended regular committee meetings and run the barbecue at Fulford FC’s annual fun day.

“We are very much a family club where winning isn’t everything,” said fellow coach John Widdup.

“Adrian and Fulford have been more about accepting all comers, caring for the kids, having fun, and if the teams are successful that’s a bonus. Not only did he organise the football but he also organised end-of-season parties which have included bowling and paintballing, and awards days in the summer where he would write individual glowing reports on each player and everyone received a medal.”

In a joint nomination for the award, which is sponsored by York Racecourse, John and Jason Flatt who coaches the Ebors said: “Adrian has been an inspiration for so many players and parents at the club. His organisational skills, patience, dedication and hard work have been incredible. The players, parents and coaching teams will miss him incredibly. He is always positive, amusing and forever patient.”

Fellow coach and parent Martin Sainty said: “He provided an escape for me and my son in our world of disability and was a lifeline for both of us. He’s one of the good guys, understandable and humble and we owe him a massive debt of gratitude.”

William Flatt, 12, said: “Adrian has been really supportive and a great coach for many years. His coaching sessions have helped to improve me and many other players.”

Harry Lewis, 12, described Adrian as “a really nice, kind and funny man”, while Cameron Scott, 12, said: “He is fun and very supportive. I have enjoyed having him as our coach and will miss him a lot when he finishes.”

Alex Widdup, 12, added: “I have made loads of friends at Fulford FC and that’s because of Adrian and the club.”

On hearing of the nomination Adrian said: “I am really chuffed, over the moon. I am very surprised but it is brilliant. Looking back it has been a lot of hard work but I have really enjoyed it - seeing the kids’ faces, the football matches, and seeing them develop over the years and coming back each week. Regardless of winning or losing, they have always been really positive. The kids have been fantastic; that’s what makes it difficult for me to move on but it takes up a lot of time. I am hoping they will continue enjoying the football with Rob and Ollie.”

Tributes also poured in from players’ parents, with Jacqui Scott saying: “Adrian is lovely. He has always encouraged all the children, is extremely dedicated to the team, and holds training and matches in all weather. As a parent we are grateful to all the coaches who give up their time to train the team.”

Rob Dixon who will take over managing the Vikings with coach Ollie Souter said: “It is a family club where my son was accepted straight away. He has been made welcome from day one and loves it at Fulford.”

Emma Lewis said: “He is 100 per cent committed, even in the rain! He never called off training even when the parents were praying he would.”

The awards are run by The Press in partnership with City of York Council and the main sponsor is Benenden Health.

Nominations can be posted to York Community Pride Awards, The Press, 84-86 Walmgate, York Y01 9YN or submit at by Friday, July 26. Nominations must include a supporting statement and should include a photo and all nominees must live in, or contribute to life in and around York. Three finalists from each category will be invited to an awards ceremony at York Racecourse.