SECRETARY and treasurer of the Bradford Premier League Umpires' Association David Ratcliffe has been made a life vice-president of their organisation at their final meeting before they disbanded at Cleckheaton Sports Club.

However, he will carry forward the honour, which he was "absolutely delighted" about, to the newly-formed Bradford Premier League Match Officials' Association - as will all the other life vice-presidents, life members and honorary members.

Ratcliffe joined the Umpires' Association in 1990 from the Bradford Central League, standing as an umpire until recently, when he stepped down for health reasons.

He has been the Umpires' Association's treasurer for the past 18 years and secretary for the last 13 years.

Ratcliffe said: "I have been honoured to stand in the league and serve the association as an officer.

"I can still remember the day that our late president Derek Shuttleworth introduced to me to the membership, along with Bill Holdstock, in 1990.

“Although I will not be on the executive of the new Match Officials' Association, I will be one of the trustees to the Derek Shuttleworth Memorial Fund.

"I believe the time is right for change with new people getting involved."

Ratcliffe took charge of the 2004 Priestley Cup final between Pudsey Congs and Woodlands before stepping in at the 11th hour to officiate in the 2007 Priestley Shield final between East Bierley and Woodlands at Undercliffe.

"I got a phone call from Tom Priestley on the morning of the game to tell me he had hurt his ankle the previous day," he recalled.

"It was meant to be his last appearance and he subsequently went on for another season before taking charge of the game between East Bierley and Cleckheaton."

Ratcliffe is also a highly-respected trainer of umpires, is considered an authority on the laws of the game and was chairman of the ACU&S's (Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers) technical committee.

"I may not be quite so hot on the laws now as they have changed a bit," he said. Mind you it is a fair bet that his knowledge will continue to be put to good use.