Figures across the borough have paid tribute to the work of John Coleman, after Accrington Stanley’s legendary manager announced he was leaving the club to take up a new post with Rochdale.
The ‘King Coley’ story could be made into a film, according to the club’s most famous son, David Lloyd.
Lancashire and England cricketer ‘Bumble’ was among famous faces to pay tribute.
Lloyd said: "His results and his performance have been absolutely staggering.
"He knew the club inside out and that has been important.
"He’s been fantastic for Accrington Stanley and will be very difficult to replace.
"He’s a big cricket fan and a good man and I just wish him well."
Former Accrington Grammar School pupil Jim Bowen, of Bullseye fame, said Coley had ‘raised the club to new heights’.
He added: "He’s done very well to get them to come up through the divisions and it has given the whole area a big boost. He will be a big miss."
Stanley founder member Jack Barrett described the Liverpudlian as ‘a grand chap’.
Jack said: "He ran things exceedingly well and I think he was liked by everyone. We were good friends and always had a chat.
"It’s a sad day for the club. He has been very well regarded and it’s a pity because we’ll struggle to get another manager like him. He’s brought them up and put them up where they are now."
Eric Whalley was the chairman who made Coleman manager back in 1999.
He said: "With John’s contribution they really should have made him Lord Mayor. John is his own man.
"We did fall out more than once but we always bought one another a drink and shook hands."
Tributes have also been pouring in from supporters’ groups and the club.
Ultra fan Rob Russell said Coleman’s achievements were ‘nothing short of a miracle’.
He said: "It’s a bit gutting to see him leave, but everybody wishes him all the best.
"There’s 20 or 30 pages of posts on the message board and there’s not one derogatory thing said about him.
"How we got through the winding-up process and still produced a team challenging for the play-offs is beyond me.
"You want to win matches, but for me the big thing about John was that he was the face and character of the club.
"It will feel strange to look over and not see him standing there with the first team."
Club president Peter Marsden said Coleman and assistant Jimmy Bell had been the very model of professional hard work.
He said: "They have accepted with stoic resilience whatever has been thrown at them, and come out not only ahead of the game, but with honour and dignity intact."