The family of former Eastbourne headteacher and football stalwart Mike Spooner say they have been “overwhelmed by the amazing outpouring of love” following his sudden death on Sunday.
Mr Spooner’s daughter Abi, his partner Sam and Abi’s fiancee Tom said he had loved his time at Langney Sports since he moved to Eastbourne and opened Stone Cross School.
She said, “The amazing outpouring of love has made this difficult time a little easier.
“Football is a family - great friends made through bad times and good, goal droughts, long trips to the far reaches of the country, and promotion joys. I know my dad had a wonderful time here in Eastbourne doing what he did best - making things happen, behind the scenes, and any excuse for a pint in the meantime.
“Thank you to everyone for their friendship and contribution to the great time he had here. He loved what he did. I love that what he did has had such an impact on so many people, whether through teaching, through the club or in so many other ways.”
Mr Spooner died on Sunday evening shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He stepped down as CEO of Eastbourne Borough last week prompting a flood of tributes.
“I was so pleased to be able to tell him last Saturday that Boro won, and even the Non League Paper had reported on his resignation as CEO,” said Abi.
“He’d have hated all this fuss, never wanting to be centre of attention, but it’s wonderful, you have all been so generous with your praise, and I’m delighted that, as much of it came on the news of his resignation, he was able to read it himself before he died.
“The last week has been horrible, I am overwhelmed by the heartfelt response of all, my dad’s non-league family. He was so frustrated not being able to be as active as he wanted, and I’m relieved he finally is at peace after such a shocking and fast-moving illness.
“Mike Spooner will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone at the club and in the footballing world, and that means so much to me. It is a consolation to know there will always be a part of him on the touchline watching every game. I am devastated to be without Daddy, but hearing him referred to as Mr Non League, a gentleman, a lovely man, and that ultimate accolade, a footballing legend, by people across the football world makes me so proud and will help me through it. He’d be really chuffed.”