Tributes have been paid to a former club director to whom Accrington Stanley owe a debt of gratitude for years of dedicated voluntary work.
Terrace favourite John De-Maine died at home on Burnley Road, Huncoat on April 11 aged 70, after a short lung cancer battle.
A minute’s silence was observed at the Wham Stadium before the Exeter game on April 14. His son said he would have been ‘very proud’ to see his beloved Reds promoted, following Tuesday’s night emotional victory over Yeovil.
John worked tirelessly as an unpaid director of the club from 1993 to 2008. Especially talented in the commercial field, he worked to secure thousands of pounds of sponsorship against the odds.
A former welder, he grew up in Church and later had a window cleaning business in Huncoat.
For years he was a constant matchday presence, greeting fans on the terraces and selling half time draw tickets.
The affection in which he was held by fans was shown with his own terrace chant, starting with ‘Cheer up John De-Maine’, to the tune of Daydream Believer by The Monkees.
John leaves his wife of 49 years Judy, son Gary, granddaughters Bobi and Gracie, and dog Robbie.
Gary said: “For many years dad was at the club every day, always on a voluntary basis. There’s nothing he liked more than talking football, especially if it was Stanley.
“He was a great believer in knocking on doors and wore out pairs of shoes walking around Accrington selling the weekly prize draw tickets.”
He added: “Associate director Martin Dale and assistant manager Jimmy Bell invited our family to the Exeter game and there was a minute’s applause and the fans had a banner saying ‘Let’s Do It For John’, which was so lovely.
“The club’s promotion would have been something he would have been very proud of.”
Stanley supporters club chairman Peter Leatham said John ‘was instrumental in keeping the club afloat, along with the Eric Whalleys and Jack Barretts of this world’, adding: “Without those people there wouldn’t have been a club for Andy Holt to come and work his magic on.”
And manager John Coleman also added to the tributes in the aftermath of Tuesday’s match, taking the time to point out that they ‘would not be where they are now’ without the huge contribution of their former director.
Former Reds managing director Rob Heys said: “John was an amazing man who was instrumental in a hugely successful period at Stanley, but always behind the scenes.
"He played a big part in making it happen, avoiding the limelight wherever he could. But those that know, know.”
In a statement the club said: “It’s with great sadness we have learnt of the death of our former director John De-Maine.
John lived and loved Stanley and was a huge influence in our climb up the leagues from non-league.”
John’s funeral will take place at Accrington Crematorium at 1.40pm on Wednesday, April 25.
Family flowers only please with donations in memory of John on behalf of British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support via funeral director Champ Funeral Services, Bank House, Whalley Road, Clayton-le-Moors, Accrington.