Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a lifelong Blackpool fan described as “Mr Football” and the “heartbeat” of Sunday football on the Fylde coast.
Peter Collins, who worked tirelessly in local football leagues for more than 50 years, passed away on Sunday evening at the age of 82.
Peter, who lived in Marton, was instrumental in setting up the local Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance league and held a number of committee roles over the years. He later served as Blackpool FC’s club secretary.
He leaves behind wife Sheila and children Damian, Gavin and Gabrielle.
Damian, who covers Blackpool games for Radio Wave, said it was his father who inspired him to get involved in sport.
“My sister coaches netball and Gavin used to play rugby, so sport is massive in our family and that’s all down to my Dad,” he said.
“But football was his life. He loved being involved with Blackpool Football Club and the local Sunday leagues.
“He followed Blackpool all his life and to be given the opportunity to work as club secretary was like a dream come true for him.
“I can’t imagine there will be many people in Blackpool involved in football who won’t know him.
“Away from football, he was a very family-orientated man. He was dedicated to my mum. People that knew him always said how genuine he was.”
Such was Peter’s dedication to football that Collins Park was named in his honour on Common Edge Road, serving as Alliance headquarters.
He was also recognised by the Lancashire FA for his 50 years of service to sport.
A spokesman for Blackpool FC said: “Blackpool FC is deeply saddened to hear the news that former club secretary Peter Collins has passed away.
“A born and bred Blackpool fan, Peter first became involved with commercial activities and the Centre of Excellence at the club before being appointed secretary, a role he fulfilled at Blackpool until September 2005.
“His contribution to Fylde coast football went further, however. He joined the Blackpool Fylde and Sunday Football Alliance committee in the 1968/69 season and dedicated his time to a variety of roles – press secretary, registrations secretary and league secretary.
“The thoughts and condolences of all at Blackpool FC go out to the whole Collins family.”
John Cross, chairman of the Blackpool FC Former Players’ Association, said: “He was a real legend. He was a very honourable man and a football man through and through.
“He served on the Sunday Alliance committee in various roles. He did everything you can imagine. He also had a football ground named after him and not many people can say that.
“He was very well thought of and he was always the life and soul of things. He had literally done everything and most people in Blackpool will know him.
“He was a very young manager of one of the Sunday league sides, Sands FC, who won everything at a time when the league was very, very strong.
“He was a very bubbly character and somebody who would speak to anybody. He wouldn’t look down on anyone.
“His opinion was very respected when it came to football. People would often come to him for advice and he was only too happy to oblige.”
Frank Kennedy, who took over from Peter as secretary of the Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance league in 2012, added: “He was a fine gentleman. He was one of the old school.
“He was involved in football for over 50 years, so he was totally dedicated. He was known as Mr Football around here.
“He was very friendly and very articulate, and I’d describe him as the perfect gentleman.”