Freddie Usher passed away on August 14, 2015 at about 7am. Fred was struggling with Alzheimer’s/Dementia for 8 years or so before he finally passed, peacefully at home with his family.
Freddie was very passionate about soccer. He always considered the soccer/referee community an extended part of his family.
As a young boy in England, Freddie never missed an opportunity to kick a ball, or can.
The highlight of school for him was lunch, during which time two teams would play with a tennis ball, using goals that were marked on the walls with chalk, for which he was regularly caned.
His passion for the game continued through his entire school experience, with his playing on school teams and, later (when he joined the British merchant navy), playing on ships’ teams in foreign ports, usually while he was fortified with an abundance of beer! It’s very likely, he believes, that during this time soccer actually kept him sane, with all the ribbing and torment he endured being a fifteen year-old boy on a ship full of men.
When he immigrated (1957) to the United States, he was drafted into the military service, but chose instead to join the U.S. Air Force. During his twenty-two years of service, he played on several of the base teams, the highlight of which was the European Arm Forces tournament, which his team won.
After being stationed back in the U.K., his oldest son, Mark, wanted to play on the youth soccer team. When Fred attempted to enroll him to play, he was told by a man who outranked him that to enable his son to play would require Fred’s becoming a referee.
Freddie politely informed that gentleman that he hated refs, and had no intention of joining their ranks! The threat, or conditions, were issued again, and so he took up the challenge, only to discover that there were many things that he thought he knew about the game, but really didn’t.
So, he took the course, and the Football Association (FA) test, and did quite well. From that point on, refereeing became an integral part of Fred Usher’s life. He did not miss many matches that he was assigned to, and later on he was picked to run the line of the
Cadstrian League Cup, which was a new milestone for his soccer career.
When he returned to the U.S., Fred was asked to take up the management of referees in Florida, which he did not want to do and did not accept, since he still wanted to referee. It wasn’t long after, that the North American Soccer League (NASL) was scouting for referees, and Eddie Pearson came to Tampa. Fred was one of a few who was selected through performance, to officiate in the NASL. During the following eleven years (1974-85), he went from linesman to center referee. He recalls, “Nobody could have received a greater challenge in soccer than to have officiated in that league; but, it was magic.” In addition to refereeing in the NASL; he was an active referee in NISOA; the ASL; the NASL Indoor Soccer League, along with any other game he was offered to officiate.
Upon his retirement from the NASL, Fred was asked by Roger Schott, to become a National Assessor and, consequently, after he took the certifying course in Chicago, he accomplished that.
During the 1994 World Cup in the United States, he was one of a few to be asked to participate in an instructional project involving the use of media for instructing the laws of the game. A video was developed, with credit for its success being given to the various persons who contributed to the group effort.
Shortly after that, with the inception of the Major Soccer League (MLS), he was a National Assessor for that league, a service in which he continues to be active.
For thirty-two years (since 1974), Fred has been a referee instructor for the United States Soccer Federation, providing training for entry and higher level referees, instructors and assessors in Florida, as well as serving as a National Instructor representing the USSF in many parts of the U.S. over the years.
Evidence of Fred Usher’s impact on the referee program in the State of Florida is illustrated in his being the second recipient into the Florida State Referees’ Hall of Fame. However, his passion, love and commitment to the “beautiful” game, and to those who contribute to its “FAIR PLAY,” has allowed the game, and a huge number of us who have experienced Freddie’s love for playing and refereeing it, to become much, much better.