OLD Basing’s John Ward has decided to stand down as chairman of the Hampshire FA after 17 years in the role and 25 years as an officer of the association.

He is not about to retire from the game completely, as at county level he will continue as a board member and chairman of the rules revision and competition sanction committee.

Nationally, he will remain the county representative, chairman of the planning, training and administration committee and a member of both the FA Vase and disability committees.

To honour his time as Hampshire chairman, he was presented with a painting of the County HQ.

Hampshire FA Chief executive Neil Cassar said: “Quite frankly, there will never be another John Ward.

“His passion for grassroots football is unrivalled and his efforts have benefited thousands of participants over the years.

“We thank John for all he has done for football in this county and recognise that this would not have been possible without the support of his family and his wife, Freda, in particular.”

Ward, who turns 73 in October, will be replaced by deputy chairman Robin Osborne, while Jim Pearson is the new deputy chairman.

He said: “I had intended to retire at 70 because I felt I had been around long enough and had implemented a lot of change.

“I wanted to go before people started saying ‘Why’s he still here?’ “I was approached by county members, who asked me to stay for another two years, but it’s time now that someone else had a go.

“With the work I do for the FA, it’s become increasingly difficult to tie it all together and give attention to everyone.”

Ward’s work for both the county and national FAs has given him huge job satisfaction.

He added: “I was on the main board of the FA for seven years and during that period we had all the problems with rebuilding Wembley.

“I always said I wouldn’t lose sleep over football, but when you’ve got an £800m project to deliver on time and on budget, it does tend to keep you awake at night!

“We were building the new county FA headquarters at the Winklebury Football Complex as well, so it was a hectic period in my life.”

One of Ward’s most significant county contributions was assisting with the formation of the Wessex League in 1986.

“It’s one of the best things that’s been done, giving senior clubs the opportunity to play in a league appropriate to their talents.”

Ward certainly enjoyed watching Wessex League side Sholing win the FA Vase at Wembley in May