Christian league win fulfilled legend Tim's dream
A win in the Norfolk Christian Football League Bishop’s Cup final on Saturday (May 13) was the fulfilment of an 11-year dream - inspired by a local footballing legend.
Heigham Park Rangers secured a league and cup double with a win in the Bishop’s Cup on Saturday May 13, staged by the Norfolk Christian Football League (NCFL), beating Norwich St John’s 4-2 (click here to see our report and picture gallery).
Afterwards victorious Rangers manager, Tom Woods, reflected on how the achievement for him and many others shone a light on the lasting legacy of league stalwart Tim Stapleford…
Eleven years ago, in 2012, I was heavily involved with some fantastic community work at Jenny Lind Park, set up by Tim. A footballing initiative set up to build relationships with the young people in the area, have a positive impact on their lives and share with them through our actions and words the love of Jesus. At the time I’d just finished player/managing a season in the Norfolk Christian Youth Football League which Tim was also heavily involved with!
I shared with Tim my desire to take the U18 side into adult football a year early, and he was so encouraging and supportive, drawing people into to support me, giving me freedom to make my own mistakes, but creating safety nets around me so I never got too discouraged or disillusioned.
Tim’s great passions of the community work at Jenny Lind and the Norfolk Christian League often overlapped, with him telling many a story of his old playing days, reminiscing around some incredible memories of league titles and some amazing players. However he also shared that despite his success as a player, he’d never himself lifted the Bishop Maurice Wood Cup. The closest he’d come was a semi-final, where he himself made an error in the dying minutes which sent the opposition through to the final.
Fast forward a couple of years and Tim sat in the stands as he watched the adult team he’d supported and encouraged me so well with, Holy Trinity, lift the Bishop Maurice Wood Cup. I remember running over to him and passing him the trophy eager for him to be a part of these celebrations, but he wasn’t interested in claiming any sort of credit, just extremely happy for the team. Over the next few months at Jenny Lind he was like a proud father reminiscing to everyone around our success.
Tim’s passion for the Christian League and community work at Jenny Lind continued to be closely intertwined. Tim had encouraged one or two of the young people that lived in the area to join Heigham Park Rangers - a team playing in the youth league. He then invited both the under 14s and under 16s to come along to the footballing sessions at Jenny Lind as part of their training. Players became so intertwined with the community work, and created some incredible memories at the park and also had an amazing amount of success in youth football.
Tim sadly passed away in 2016 after a battle with cancer. In the months leading up to his death, as he became weaker and weaker, his passion for the community work at Jenny Lind, the NCFL and his passion for sharing the good news of Jesus didn’t waver, in fact it became even more fervent! And it was such an inspiration to see and had a lasting impact on countless lives.
On October 15, 2016, the NCFL put on the Tim Stapleford Memorial Match, which raised funds for the work at Jenny Lind Park. Many of the lads who were involved in the Jenny Lind sessions played in what was a Heigham Park Rangers XI vs a rest of league XI, which also featured players that had played in Tim’s playing era.
Today Heigham Park Rangers are still going strong, with the men’s team involving many of the players that attended those Jenny Lind sessions all those years ago, and fittingly this season they lifted the club’s very first Bishop Maurice Wood Cup.
An incredible legacy, left by the most inspirational, father figure of a man, that continues to shine so brightly, always reflecting his passion for football, the community around Jenny Lind Park and the love of Jesus Christ.
Read our tribute story for Tim Stapleford.
Pictured top are 2023 Bishop's Cup winners Heigham Park Rangers and, above, the memorial Tim's Game in 2016.