JOHN McAteer, mainstay of Middlewich Town for nearly 20 years, died on Monday - just weeks before the redevelopment at Seddon Street he initiated was due to be completed and possibly only days before his club won the Mid Cheshire League.
He was aged 60 and had suffered a long illness.
Chairman Steve Morris said: 'Our thoughts are with his family. As far as our club is concerned, the timing of his death is especially poignant. His presence, commitment and dedication will be missed by Middlewich Town and the community as a whole.'
John was a driving force behind the fundraising for Seddon Street's all-weather pitch and various improvements, including new changing rooms and social club refurbishment.
'He had a great knowledge of non-league football and shared it with managers and coaches.'
Manager Terry Murphy said: 'It is a massive blow for us. I could hardly believe the work and effort he put in. He was a terrific man with so much energy, one of the nicest I have ever met in football.'
Dave Twite, former Town manager and now boss of Winsford United, added: 'He appointed me and I'll always be grateful for giving me that start. Middlewich is a great club and he more than anyone made it so. At times he held the club together and I don't know of anyone who was not impressed with John McAteer the man. A smashing fellow, football will miss him.'
John was formerly chairman of Middlewich Athletic and deputy to Morris since the club changed its name.
A further tribute to John appears on our news pages.
He last watched Middlewich against Barnton, a victory that swung the Mid Cheshire League title their way.
Now Murphy will exhort the players to complete the job in John's memory.
They have three games remaining and if they win them, they are champions for the first time since 1975.
They are at home to Rylands tonight - a game that will be preceded by a minute's silence.
Graham Kay returns after injury, while Mark Tomlinson has a slight knee injury. The holidaying Les Miranda is back in time for Saturday's trip to Daten.
MIDDLEWICH Reserves needed a point at Crosfields on Saturday to win their league title and, weakened by withdrawals, crashed 9-2.