HUNDREDS of mourners turned up to say their last goodbyes to Stafford Rangers stalwart Mike Hughes.
Yesterday St Mary’s Church, Stafford was overflowing with family, friends, club colleagues and fans who wanted to pay their last respects to the 68-year-old who died suddenly while on holiday in Devon earlier this month.
Mr Hughes’ coffin was borne into the packed church to the strains of John Lennon’s Imagine.
His son Jason Hughes said his father loved many things.
“More than anything else he loved his family. And we loved him. Especially mum. He was a truly wonderful husband, father and grandfather. A provider, a protector.
“His presence and impact has been so big, he lives on in so many people and places, that he is too big to die. He gets to die only when we die.”
Through tears his daughter Clare Hollis remembered her father as “our friend, teacher and confidante and our rock” while his brother Peter read a passage from the Bible.
Former club director David Montgomery said: “If Mike loved Stafford Rangers then Stafford Rangers loved Mike Hughes. For more than 30 years he gave everything to the Boro, did every job in the place, and knew more about the club than anyone else.
“For Stafford Rangers Mike is irreplaceable and we mourn his passing, angry that he has been taken from us so suddenly.”
Among the mourners were past and present managers and players, as well as fans in Rangers’ shirts.
The funeral service was followed by committal at Stafford Crematorium and a wake at Stafford Rangers social club.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the British Heart Foundation and the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team in memory of Mr Hughes.