FORMER Blackpool secretary Derek Allan has added his tribute as soccer still mourns the death of Billy Ayre.
Now secretary of promoted Brighton, Allan was at Bloomfield Road from June 1993 to January 1995. He travelled from the south coast to attend the funeral near Ormskirk.
“It was nice to have a manager you could get along with and work with, and Billy was certainly that,” he said.
“He was a lovely man, a good and dedicated coach and had a sense of humour – a typical Geordie.
“I first came across him when I was Preston’s secretary and he was Halifax manager. He was always popping in looking at players and it was a pleasure to talk to him. He enjoyed a laugh and was good at his job.
“I rang him about three months ago when I heard he wasn’t so well. He was very upbeat.”
Local referees also fondly recall Ayre, who was a teenage ref in his native North-East.
John Brown, chairman of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Referees Association said: “Billy was dedicated to football in lots of ways, and helping the local referees whenever possible was one of them. He was always there to give advice and guidance and would come and address our meetings when available.”
Jimmy Mullen, under whom Ayre started at Pool as number two, was at the funeral. He now works for the Welsh FA.
Also attending were ex-Pool midfielder Mark Bonner, who Ayre took to Cardiff City, and Steve Redmond, who was physio under Ayre and is now at Bradford City.