IT'S the end of an era for the Staffordshire Newsletter and Stafford sport today as sports editor Dave McLean blows the final whistle on his career.
Dave, who turns 65 on Saturday, is retiring after a 36-year innings at the helm.
Friends and colleagues this week paid tribute to the lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers fanwho has been at the heart of community sport for more than three decades.
He joined the Newsletter as a sports writer in 1977 having gone into journalism straight from school with the Midland News Agency, later becoming sports editor.
"We just had typewriters in those days," he said. "We were one of the first to have computers and we had individual printers on our desks. The waste paper basket was full because you can't just delete like you can on screen. You had to start again.
"I did everything about every sport and I have learned more about other sports in the time I have been here. I'm still learning now with the social media side and websites."
In his time in Stafford he has worked in three offices for three editors and seen 25 managers at Stafford Rangers including the incoming chief Neil Kitching.
"The 1970s were their glory days," he said.
"My dream when I came here was to see them playing at Wembley and get to the Football League. Two years after I started here we were at Wembley in the FA Trophy final so that was one dream realised."
Having built a close relationship with Rangers he used to write a column in the club programme and travel to games on the team coach.
Rangers club secretary Mick Hughes said: "Dave has become a permanent fixture here over the past 36 years. He's like part of the furniture. It will be strange to kick off the season without him in the press box. He's been great to work with and is going to be greatly missed."
Dave was instrumental in setting up the Stafford Half Marathon, which is now run by Stafford Borough Council, and the borough's sports awards.
Stafford Borough Council's sports and leisure manager Jim Arnold said: "He has been a central part of promoting sport in Stafford and encouraging participation. He has been influential in promoting those sporting stars that have gone on to bigger and better things. Dave has been a good friend to me and the council for many years and we will miss his involvement with us."
Adam Hill, the council's head of leisure and culture, said: "Dave has been a fundamental part of sports in the borough for such a long time and his knowledge has been invaluable in covering this area. He has been an integral part to the success and promotion of Stafford and a good ambassador."
Stafford Borough Councillor and leisure portfolio holder Mike Smith said: "I knew him when he was in North Staffordshire Road Runners. He was a good running partner when we used to run races at Tittensor.."
Steve Glover, of Stafford Sports and Performance Academy, said: " I have known Dave McLean since I was a young child competing in sporting events throughout Stafford. He has been a huge advocate of sport in the district for many years. He supports all sports and for all ages."
Killoran Wills, editor of the Newsletter, said: " Dave's professionalism and dedication has been second to none. We shall miss him greatly in the newsroom."