Phil Cain – 1958-2016

Phil Cain 1958-2016

Phil Cain 1958-2016

Dave Mcloughlin – AP Chairman

My heart is heavy when I recall how some devastating news came my way on Tuesday. Phil Cain passed away on his beloved houseboat on Monday night. Phil was a much loved character at the club. He played in the late 80s and 90s for the club and was a self proclaimed hatchet man. You always knew you had played a game against Phil, mainly because your ears hurt as much as your ankles from his constant chat. This is something that he continued both in his coaching and his refereeing career.

Phil was the architect of youth football at Alexandra Park. He had a genuine interest in developing youngsters to both enjoy and play good football. Early on he was a youth coach at Arsenal, combining this with working in a school for youngsters with Specialist Needs. APYFC grew out of his Palace Soccer School. Large amounts of recent AP members like Ozan Gunes, Les Manu, Nana Kadua, Michael Hubbard, Jay Hughes, Matt Kelly, Will Hancox, Rob Hubbard, Lee Carlin and Kieron O’Leary were coached by Phil as youngsters, as were virtually all of Old Garchonians (who were APYFC Youth players) and a few of the Vamps. In fact, Phil was actually moonlighting over at Garches as their referee secretary! Phil mentored Martin Egan as a coach, and was able to support the running of both the youth and adult sections with his expertise in coaching – his preseason sessions were as hated as they were legendary, but good God they got you fit (as those who attended preseason this year will know!)

Most of the SAL and AFA family will know Phil as a referee however, and he was much loved in this guise. He was definitely a players Ref – he would talk to you, have a laugh but firmly put you in your place when it was required. I remember once we played a game away at Old Stationers. Striker Danny Hunt was clean through on goal and sheared down by an oppo defender. It was less foul, more GBH. Phil had a look, but didn’t fancy it and waved play on. In the bar back at the club after the game over a Diet Coke, I asked Phil why he didn’t give a Penalty. Phil’s reply – ‘He annoyed me – Tosser should have got a shot away shouldn’t he!’ Phil was an excellent ref, and served as a mentor for younger referees in the AFA – one of the best young referees in the league – Deryll David – was mentored by Phil.

Phil was very well regarded in official circles and actually acted as MC at the SAL dinner in June. Phil was dynamite in any social gathering. His heckling at club dinners saw no possible response as it was so cutting, and particularly in his younger days he was well known around the bars of Ally Pally – he once told me at length how a regular Saturday night would see him turfed out of both the Starting Gate and Park Inn!

The biggest tribute I can pay to Phil is that everyone who knows him will have their own tale or story to tell about him – and it will most likely be riotously funny. Phil was a people person through and through, and loved to be with and around social situations, despite being teetotal for years. Everyone will also know his beloved dog Sooks, who went everywhere with him. A bloody great Alsatian, you wouldn’t want to be chased by her, but she was soft as anything – her bark was worse than her bite. Phil was similar – he was rough round the edges but had a heart of gold.

We pass on our sincere condolences to his family, and we will publish the details of his funeral service when we know them. All our games on Saturday will be marked with a minutes applause for the memory of Phil. Also, to make his legacy in youth development at the club, we will be renaming our Young Player of the Year award the ‘Phil Cain Award’. I would ask you all to make an effort to get to the clubhouse this Saturday, but a Diet Coke as well as a beer, and share a story about this larger than life character.

Phil Cain – 1958-2016 – Gone but never forgotten.


Phil Cain with Sooks


Martin Egan – Player/Youth Football Coach

A one in a million person who’s charisma, distinctive growling voice and opinions would light up a room. Phil was instrumental in me becoming a coach and establishing the LFA. Without his support and guidance at a very difficult time in my life, my journey would be much different. Phil’s ability to motivate with an aggressive yet positive attitude was infectious. Playing for him you would run through brick walls. Play against him and you would want to hide behind one. His final whistle came far too soon, but his legacy within youth development and refereeing, individuals and teams, will last for generations. He is an inspiration to me and will be sorely missed and always remembered.

It’s impossible to forget someone like Phil, who gave so much to remember.


Phil Cain AFA Referee

Duncan Anderson – 1st Team Manager

Words are hard to find to describe a man who influenced me so much. Firstly though I will always think of his raucous laugh that illuminated the changing room or clubhouse and brought smiles too many even if the jokes were frequently not for the faint hearted. Having played on the same team as Phil he is amongst the few who passed on advice and knowledge that shaped both the way I played and the way I expect people to play. This was a man who played the game through his heart, give 100% and others will follow. And we did. He had his prickly side which was evident on occasions when Refs, opposition and even his own team did not reach his standards. But after the game he would always shake hands and it would be laughed off.

His ability to integrate younger players and make them feel part of a team and actually needed was another skill that hopefully I have gained from him. Although in a very small way in comparison. I remember having conversations with him over youngsters who he felt could make the transition to adult level football. This in particular was a skill that cannot be taught and it comes from within, showing Phil was a true football man who was aware of the bigger scheme of things than his own performance.

As Referee he commanded respect. He gave it as he saw it, talked to players and laughed with them. And also booked some!

A man who instilled in me to play hard but fair, but more than anything to enjoy playing the game and the camaraderie of being in a team. He was affable, laid back yet committed, upfront and straight talking, and very very funny. Just one of the nicest guys I’ve known.

Phil left a mark on me that I will never forget. Miss you Pal.


Ron Inkersole – Previous Coach and Manager AP Youth U18’s

As a friend of Phil’s I am so sorry to hear of the loss of a genuine man.  I worked alongside Phil for a decade starting from 2000 onwards at AP Youth.  I would describe him as a growly man with no “airs & graces” but had a warmth and care about him that made him special.  After barking out instructions in his own way, he would always end up with a broad grin.  He taught the kids in the area much more than the usual teamwork, coaching and camaraderie, but he taught life skills, how not to be prejudice, but to be humble, respectful and well mannered, as well as having a sense of humour, basically turning kids into good people.

For me, the best thing about Phil was his honesty, he would tell you straight, which I respected so much.  On a funny note, I have a habit of giving people nicknames and he must have been named after Phil Silvers because he was found affectionately on my phone under B for BILKO. The growly man with a big heart always remembered. RIP Mate!