Barbarians chairman Dave Harman has led the tributes to former player and referee Roy Maye who has passed away after a long illness, aged 69.

Roy, who lived in Erdington, played the game for many years with Birchfield RFC and later with Birmingham Barbarians, after the merger of Birchfield and Kynoch RFC in 2003.

He was also an active member of the North Midlands Society of Rugby Union Referees and was also a long-standing committee member at Birmingham Barbarians where he served as Treasurer, Vice President and Life Member.

Harman mourned his close friend’s passing: “Roy was loved and respected by everyone at Birchfield and latterly Birmingham Barbarians and he’ll be sadly missed. He battled against cancer for a number of years but continued to come down to matches to support the club as well as refereeing from time to time.

“Roy once told me that he started playing rugby when he was in the Army after being approached by a sergeant asking if he was doing anything and so played his first game.

“He didn’t intend to play a second game until he was informed that the sergeant was in charge of the payroll and if he wanted to be paid on time it would be advisable to keep playing. After that he never stopped.

“He was well known in and around Birmingham on the rugby circuit as one of the few Jamaican referees and for his stand on strict discipline by players on the pitch.

“He refereed up until 18 months ago at the age of 68 when his illness started to take its toll.

“His last game of rugby for the Barbarians was on tour to Scarborough five years ago.

“He was running the line with the help of a walking stick and when one of our lads was injured. Roy ripped off his tracksuit to reveal he was wearing his kit. He threw the walking stick to one side and promptly ran on the pitch.

“He also played regularly in Golden Oldies and Vintage Rugby tournaments around the world,” added Mr Harman.

He is survived by daughter Deanne and sister Sheila.