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West Cumbria football family in mourning as 'Father Cato' dies

West Cumbria’s amateur football family is in mourning after ex-Sunday League player turned official Graham Caton died.

TRIPLE TRIUMPH: Graham Caton, front, celebrates the Portland FC side he managed winning in 2003 the Workington & District Sunday League treble – the President’s Cup, the League Cup and the Championship trophy. Also pictured are team members, from left, Kevin Rowntree, Graeme Peers, Andrew Rowntree, Paul Fowler, Liam Cooke, Adrian Gate and Darren Mullins

Known fondly as Father Cato due to his knowledge and dedication to the sport locally, Mr Caton, who also owned Silica Discs record shop on Finkle Street, Workington, died in the early hours of Wednesday.

Believed to be in his late 50s, father of three Mr Caton was the Workington & District Sunday League’s fixtures secretary for almost a decade, and his death has stunned the amateur game.

This weekend’s matches have been cancelled as a mark of respect.

He was known best for his time with Portland FC, which later became Hall Park Hotel FC, and he won all four trophies on offer, including a league and cup treble in 2003 and quadrupple in 2008.

Mr Caton was also a keen speedway fan, supporting Workington Comets for more than 40 years.

In 1970 he was the supporters’ club chairman when Workington competed in their first ever meeting against Berwick.

Arthur Peers, of Hall Park Hotel FC, said: “Anybody who knew Graham would agree that he was a dedicated follower of sport.

“He followed local football and speedway as well as his beloved Everton.

“If his own team didn’t have a game he would be out watching others because he just loved football .

“Graham always said unity was the reason for the success, but Graham’s knowledge of the game had far more of an effect than he realised.

“Sundays just won’t be the same again. Many players have worn the club shirt but not one would have a bad word for Father Cato.”

No details about his death have been released, and Paul Kelly, league secretary, said: “At times like this football is insignificant.

“Graham was very passionate about the local game and his death is both shocking and devastating.

“Canceling Sunday’s matches is right. If it causes problems then tough. Football takes a back seat when someone as dedicated to the game passes.

“Graham was also a top player, who never shirked a challenge. He had his run-ins with players, but he was fair.

“Graham has given so much to the league and to Hall Park Hotel, who were the Portland FC before.

“He has played a huge role in the league for as long as I can remember, and all our thoughts are with his family.”

Mr Caton was a former chairman of the Cumberland branch of the Everton Supporters’ Club.

His sons Graham Junior and Kevin also played in the Sunday league, and he also leaves behind a daughter Sarah and partner Val.

Mr Peers’s brother Graeme, who is also a member of Hall Park Hotel FC, said: “We will all as one will truly miss Graham. He was part of the Hall Park Hotel FC furniture and we’ve had some great times both as a club and privately as friends and we will remember those times fondly.

“We will miss the stories which never had a punchline and we will miss putting the football world to rights, but most of all we will miss Graham being there.

“As a manager he was passionate. He loved football and, as a person, he told you straight. There were no punches pulled if he had something to say.

“If you stepped over the line, he did something about it, and didn’t back down from anybody.”

Fred Conway, chairman of the Cumberland Football Association, said: “Graham was one of the unsung heroes of grassroots football.

“His commitment, passion and love for the game were clear to anyone who had the pleasure of being in his company.

“However, more importantly, he was good man.

“His loss will not just be to the Sunday league, but will be felt by the wider football family within Cumbria.”

Have your say

Miss him so much!

Posted by val on 1 February 2014 at 01:56

I am stunned at reading of Graham's passing. I knew him and his family all of my life. We were like family. I travelled and lived overseas from the late 70's and re connected with Graham 10 years ago during a visit home. This news leaves me shocked and saddened. It's like losing a brother.

Posted by Barry Peile on 23 April 2012 at 23:42

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