By Alicia Dziak
Wally Holland is well known in both Ellicottville and Springville. He’s lived in Ellicottville for nearly three decades and has ties to Springville, where he currently spends several days a week working out at the Spring Creek Athletic Club. Holland also said his late wife, Kathleen, was a world languages teacher at Springville-Griffith Institute.
Holland is the type of person everyone should talk to at least once. He’s full of opinions, humor and great stories. So many stories, in fact, that he’s spent the last several years writing them all down for his new book, titled “Dear God, What’s on the Second Floor?”
The synopsis goes something like this: “An English boy survives one war, volunteers for another, learns a trade, mixes some drinks, bets on some horses, goes to sea, takes to the air, marries an American, starts a business, raises two sons, and ends up refereeing soccer in a little village in New York. Along the way, meanwhile, he makes a nice living as a petty thief, gets arrested for murder by Interpol, annoys a belly dancer, dodges bullets on a train, goes AWOL, gets court-martialed (quite unrelatedly), encounters a spot of trouble at knifepoint in London, runs perilously late in the South African bush, makes a grand debut as union man, slightly embarrasses James Bond, and disagrees with a Parisian swan over the matter of a baguette.”
On Friday, April 6, the University Express/SCENe Speaker Series will feature Holland talking about his book at the Concord Senior Center at 1 p.m. The event will also include door prizes and refreshments.
The following day, Holland will be inducted into the Cattaraugus County Sports Hall of Fame. The 16th annual banquet will be held at 6 p.m. at the Little Valley American Legion. Holland will be recognized for his accomplishments as a soccer official, and he says he is the oldest soccer official in all of New York State, and possibly in the entire U.S.
And just how old is the state’s oldest soccer ref? On Sunday, April 8, he will turn 84 years young.
Holland, who said he officiated six games a week last year, is clearly proud of this achievement and what it means, saying he has always been one to get out of the house and keep busy, not letting his age define him. “I am old, but I don’t feel old,” he said.
Being the No. 1 oldest soccer official in the state recently led Holland to reflect on his life. He said his wife was number one at many things; his son, Wally Jr. was number one after he won the New York state spelling bee in the early 1990s; and his other son, Felipe, was valedictorian of his high school class at Ellicottville Central. Holland is proud that after only four years of schooling as a boy, he is number one at something.
Join the Ellicottville Times in congratulating Wally on all of his and his family’s successes, and be on the lookout for his book, which will be available soon on Amazon.