Lancaster nostalgia: referee's swift action saved player's life

Historian Terry Ainsworth looks back on the life of referee Norman 'Butch' Palmer.

Sunday, 8th January 2017, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:42 am
Storeys 1975-76.

The book on local referees called “The Second Tuesday in the Month” by Clifford Moffet reported the following:

“The year’s (1976) outstanding feat on the field of play concerned neither an appointment nor a promotion but an act which showed all the attributes necessary in a referee’s character which enables him to react swiftly and efficiently at times of crisis.

“Norman Palmer, whilst officiating in a North Lancashire League game undoubtedly saved the life of a player whose heart had apparently ceased beating as a result of a blow to the head. His prompt action in administering the ‘kiss of life’ averted what would otherwise have been a tragedy.”

Barrow's Yard, off Corn Market Street.

A gem of a photograph of Storeys in about 1976 that has been through the “wars” over the years has “Butch” resplendent and smiling as was the “norm” in his referee’s outfit.

I spoke with “Butch”, as he was always known, 40 years later in 2016 at his home in Torrisholme and he remembered the incident quite clearly although couldn’t recall the names of the two teams.

He thought the injured boy came from somewhere near Churchtown and his family presented “Butch” with a pair of trainers as a way of thanking him.

During our conversation “Butch” also said that he had been born in Barrow’s Yard, Lancaster.

Barrow's Yard, off Corn Market Street.

Go to for more photos.