A FORMER top-flight football referee from York who oversaw clashes between some of the biggest teams in the game has died at the age of 90.

Peter Rhodes, who died after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease, “went the full 90, and managed a little extra time”, said his daughter, Sally Wilkinson.

A former Second World War pilot, Mr Rhodes began his footballing career as a goalkeeper while a pupil at Dringhouses School, before entering the minor leagues.

He eventually took up refereeing after admitting that fellow player Ken Cooper, a former Lord Mayor of York, was a better keeper than himself.

Over his 20-year career as an FA official, Mr Rhodes oversaw some of the most daunting derbies for any referee, including the Sheffield clubs, Tottenham against Arsenal and Newcastle versus Sunderland.

He is also known to have shown a red card to legendary player Denis Law.

It was this uncompromising style which saw him recognised by the fledgling world of American Soccer in the 1960s and he was “headhunted” by the US.

Speaking to The Press in 1994, he said: “They asked me to be top ref and I picked three others to go with me. The players came from all over the world and they were the hardest in the world. We had to get hold of them and we did.

“The headhunters had the whole world to go at and they came for me. The brief was the man we want has to be hard but fair and have some administrative ability.”

Sally said: “As a little girl I grew up around football grounds. He was such a lovely man – you didn’t mind supporting him all the way.

“He had a fantastic career, but he was a lovely man in private too. He adored my mother Sheila and they were happily married for 55 years.

“He was determined to live to 90. He had a lovely party with lots of family and friends. A football game lasts for 90 minutes, and he went the full 90 and managed a little extra time.”

A funeral service will be held at St Edward the Confessor Church in Dringhouses on Tuesday, November 1, at 1.45pm, followed by cremation at York Crematorium at 3pm. All are welcome.