By Bobby Mathews, sports editor
BIRMINGHAM — When Trussville’s Greg England made the move from athlete to official, he didn’t know exactly how far that change would take him.
Turns out, it took him to the Alabama Sports Officials Hall of Fame.
“This is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had, being selected to the Alabama Sports Officials Hall of Fame,” England said. “When I first started officiating, I had played a lot of basketball already, but once I stepped over to referee, I learned a lot more than I thought I already knew. I had a lot to learn, and I had to learn it quick.”
England, now 75, refereed high school and college basketball for 48 years. His hard work, dedication and leadership earned the respect of his peers. After joining the Birmingham Basketball Officials Association in 1970, he held numerous positions there for the next 32 years, including a decade-long stint as president of the association.
When England stepped down as president in 2006, the organization voted to change the name of its highest honor, the President’s Award, to the Greg England President’s Award. The honor is bestowed annually to an official who demonstrates outstanding character and moral values.
England’s character is clear to the people with whom he worked.
“At one time, three-person crews were optional,” former BBOA President Bobby Stewart said. “The school only had to pay for two. Greg would always take a younger official and get them the experience they needed to advance and pay them out of his own pocket.”
Although he’s accomplished and well-respected by colleagues, England remains modest.
“I just try to treat people right,” England said. “I try to treat them like I’d want them to treat me.”
Not only did England officiate at a high level. He played at one, too.
He graduated from Tarrant High School in 1965, where he played football, baseball and basketball. The year before graduation, he starred at running back on the 1964 Tarrant High state championship football team, and he was selected to the All-Jefferson County football team as a running back and defensive back. In the 1965 state championship season, England was selected as the most valuable offensive player.
England was also selected to play in the Alabama East-West baseball game played at Rickwood Field in 1965.
England worked the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s regional basketball tournament for 10 years, and officiated the state tournament for 25 years. He has officiated two Alabama-Mississippi All-Star games and is an observer for the AHSAA North Central District. He was also one of the original crew for the AHSAA State Basketball Camp, remaining as an instructor with that camp for 12 years.
England officiated collegiate basketball for 25 years, logging games with the Gulf South Conference, the Southern States Conference and Alabama Junior College Conference. In 2000 he was named ‘Official of the Year’ for Alabama by the National Federation Officials Association, and was also awarded the same honor by North Central District that year.
England was inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. His induction to the ASOHF came at the third annual ceremony on August 14, 2021.