The Club is very sad to report the death of former Scottish international referee David Leslie (75). Apart from his illustrious refereeing career, David was a much liked and respected Member of Fylde and served as Chairman of Rugby and Chairman of Discipline. He was also a member of the Club’s General Committee.
Our sincere condolences go to his wife Barbara, his family and friends.
His funeral will be held on Thursday 5th July, 3.30 pm at Lytham Crematorium. It will be followed by refreshments in Fylde’s Clubhouse.
David Leslie was born in Glasgow and lived on the Isle of Lewis until he was five where he spoke Gaelic as his first language before moving back to Hamilton. His academic career started at Hamilton Academy and then onto Glasgow University. His professional life eventually brought him south to Lancashire and into local government and then environmental consulting.
He was a very good player in his youth before taking up refereeing in Scotland and he immediately stood out as a great talent. On moving south, he joined the Manchester & District Referees Society in 1970 and was also a loyal member at his local club, Thornton Cleveleys RUFC.
He joined the RFU’s Referees Panel and officiated at top level club fixtures such as Leicester v Harlequins before being appointed to his first international on behalf of the Scottish RFU in 1988. He was in charge of some huge international fixtures including France v the All Blacks and, perhaps his most prestigious appointment, England v Wales at Twickenham in 1990.
David joined Fylde in 2000 when he retired from top level refereeing and progressed to Chairman of Rugby in 2006-7 and was subsequently Chairman of Discipline at the Club and for Lancashire RFU as well. He was honoured to serve as President of the Manchester Society in 2007-9.
A year ago, David was featured in a local newspaper story when he jabbed his walking stick in a burglar’s chest after finding him stood in the hallway of his Lytham home. The thief beat a rapid retreat!
He is survived by his wife Barbara and his three daughters by an earlier marriage. Although gravely ill, he was delighted to hear recently that his grandson Joe was joining Fylde Colts for the 2018-19 season.
Fylde Chairman Dave Young spoke on behalf of all Fylde Members and supporters: “I was saddened to hear of David’s passing. I have great memories of him as a top referee and a regular at Fylde matches in my playing days and more recently as a loyal club member who contributed to the club in a number of roles. He was always happy to share his thoughts on rugby and the club with me.
“On behalf of the club, our condolences go to Barbara and all his family.”
Former Fylde Head Coach (and current Rossendale & Lancashire Head Coach) Mark Nelson said: “I first met David when I was playing for Lancaster RGS in a big school match against Rossall. The game was very close and we (LRGS) held a one point lead as normal time elsapsed. After 10 minutes injury time Rossall scored, David blew the whistle and that was that. We have talked about that game on many occasions since 1977. Now David has had a superb career as a referee all over the World at senior club and International level but it’s a mark of the man that he can remember schoolboy games from the ’70s and has been so enthusiastically involved in the rugby from the very top of the game right down to the grassroots and all levels in between.
“Many people will speak of David the rugby man but, beyond that, I will remember and miss him as a trusted friend and confidant through good and bad times. Both Barbara and he have always taken a great interest in my paintings and I am honoured to have painted several commissions for them and, in the process, got to know them both very well.
“He was a man of great wit and humour and very good company. More importantly he was a loyal and steadfast friend to many folk at Fylde and beyond and I know that he will be very deeply missed by his close pals in the Malcolm Phillips Lounge after matchdays as they discuss the game and the referee’s performance. He was passionate for the clubs he was involved with to succeed and gave his best in all the roles that he has been involved with at Fylde. Rugby has lost a special person.
“I will miss David very much and send my deepest condolences to Barbara and the family. The final whistle has gone but it was a fantastic game.”
Bill Beaumont, Chairman of World Rugby and Fylde RFC Member, said: “This is very sad news. David was an outstanding Club man and an excellent International Referee. I was commentating for the BBC when he refereed his first International game. He was always encouraging to all young referees and a great role model. He will be sadly missed. Sincere commiserations to Barbara and his family.”