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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 13 February 2006

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Formby Loses Favourite Father Figure
Jim Rourke MBE
1912 - 2006

IT all started when Jim Rourke took his young son Frank to play football in the park and was joined by other local youngsters. From this small acorn grew the mighty oak of "Rourke’s League". For many years, supported by his wife Louise, he dedicated himself to nurturing the talents of local youth. Long after others would have lost their enthusiasm, he remained a familiar figure, alongside his stalwart helpers, on the local playing fields.

In fair weather and foul, he was there guiding and encouraging his players. Importantly, not only did he foster sporting talent but also he strove to inculcate a sense of team spirit and fair play, so often apparently lacking in today’s approach. He was later supported and eventually succeeded by his son, Frank.

As if all this were not enough through Formby Junior Sports Club he also devoted many hours, again supported by loyal helpers, to teaching chess, again with the same expectations of good conduct. Prize givings reflected these ideals. Talent was rewarded, but there were also shields for unselfish behaviour and commitment! Many people have been enriched by his skills.

In 1977 his own efforts were acknowledged when he was awarded the MBE. He was justifiably proud but typically he remained modest and unassuming.

This quote by one ex-pupil will be typical of the thoughts of many.  "Jim Rourke is a man who will be remembered by a great many people for a very long time, mainly for the 'Rourke's League' football tournaments he ran. Like so many others, lots of my childhood memories involve playing at events organised by him, but for me my main memories of him will not be related to football, but of the weekly chess club he also ran. Mr Rourke was a truly amazing man, and seemed to be always going that extra mile to make the world a better place for those around him. Dear to so many, he will truly be missed by all."

Such people as Jim Rourke are exceptional and the world will be a poorer place for his passing. Goodbye Jim, and thank you!

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