STAFFORD Rangers are in shock today after learning of the death of club stalwart Mike Hughes.
Manager Neil Kitching learned the news this morning after receiving a telephone call from his son.
Mr Hughes had been on holiday with his wife on a walking holiday.
Mr Kitching said: “He was Stafford Rangers inside out.”
TRIBUTES are pouring in for Mr Stafford Rangers, Mike Hughes, who has passed away.
It is understood Mr Hughes, who was 68, was having a walk with his wife on holiday in Devon, on Tuesday when he collapsed.
An announcement on the club’s website on Thursday said: “It is with deep regret that Stafford Rangers have to announce that on Tuesday, August 5, Michael Hughes, long serving football secretary and ardent supporter of the club, sadly passed away.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this awful time.”
The former accountant had been with the club for 34 years and had done every job there including chairman, director, treasurer and secretary.
Club president John Downing said: “I can’t believe it. He was as large as life on Saturday. We have worked together at the club for more than 20 years – he was there before I was.. He’s been such a dedicated football man, he loved the club inside and out. He was a character. He was always first there and last to leave. My condolences go out to the family.”
Assistant secretary Robbie Mullin said: “It’s sad news, a real bolt from the blue. It’s a big blow to us. He was the leader, the frontman of the club.”
Shellshocked manager Neil Kitching said: “He will leave a massive hole, he did everything. The club is in shock. In the time I have dealing with him it’s just been me and him sorting everything out.
“He was Stafford Rangers inside out. Anything I needed I rang Mike. He was a lovely guy, there was no edge to him, he was just a level headed guy. Mike was almost full time at the club. I got quite close to him.”
Former Staffordshire Newsletter sports editor Dave Mclean had known Mr Hughes for more than 30 years.
He said: “He ran the club especially in recent times. If it wasn’t for him there wouldn’t be a club. He was a wonderful guy. I’m devastated. My thoughts go out to his family. He was Mr Rangers and he will be greatly missed especially on the eve of the new season.”
Allan Smith, one of the founders of fan group Stripes, said: "I have known Mick most of my life. He was my manager when I layed for Stafford Town. He was brilliant, he was Stafford Rangers through and through. It's a big shock."