Tony Jo, who was once a member of award-winning comedy band The Grumbleweeds, died on Sunday following an 18-month battle with cancer.
He was a celebrated after-dinner comedian, rubbing shoulders with sporting legends including Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks, Alan Ball, George Best over the years. He won the After Dinner Speaker of The Year Award in 1997, 1999 and 2001, and wrote for shows including You’ve Been Framed and Stars in Their Eyes.
In recent years, he was the chairman of Squires Gate FC, leading the teams to success in the North West Counties Football League premier division.
Club secretary John Maguire said: "Tony was the life and soul of the party, a big character, and a great chairman for the last five years. He was a bign bubbly prescence wherever he was, and did a lot of great work for Squires Gate.
"We worked together for the past five years very closely. It was really difficult watching him over the past few months. In the summer time he really started to struggle and it was very sad.
"I think this was his fifth or sixth time having the disease. He massively fought it. He was always very positive. He was always saying 'I'll get this club to Wembley'. We knew it would beat him eventually, but it was his strong will that kept him going as long as he did."
Squirws Gate FC media officer James Ashton said: "Tony, who has spent the last few years running the NWCFL Premier Division club, has helped stabilise the club on the pitch as well as pushing it forward off it.
"During his reign, Gate established themselves as the longest serving Premier Division club and have encountered many memorable moments, such as a 6-4 win over Macclesfield in front of a record crowd of 738 last August, as well as playing live on the BBC in September 2020 as they beat Maine Road 5-0 in the FA Cup.
"Tony was loved by all at the club, with his vibrant personality and kind heartedness touching everyone who met him. He was always so proud of the club he ran, and formed a great relationship with manager Luke Evans, whom he appointed in late 2019."
Club volunteer and barman Jay Hayden said: “Tony was a great man and I couldn’t have respected him more.
“Along with James, and my brother Dan, he was always so helpful to the whole media team and was just amazing for the club as a whole."
The club now plans for 'a lovely send off' for Tony at this Saturday’s game vs Prestwich Heys.
A Grand Theatre spokesman said: “A Blackpool entertainment legend has sadly passed, and our hearts are with his dear family and friends.
“Tony produced some fantastic shows at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre over the years and we know he will be missed by many.”
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