TRIBUTES have been paid to former Turton Football Club player and manager Andy Leece who has died, aged 50.
Mr Leece, who suffered a suspected heart attack, played for several clubs, including Turton, before going into management.
He was born in Halliwell and lived in the area all his life.
He played football from a young age, starting playing in the Bolton Junior League and then the Combination Senior League.
He went into management with Sunday league clubs before progressing to Saturday league, taking the reins of Turton FC Reserves. After two successful seasons, he was head-hunted by Paul Marriott, manager of Eagley FC, Pto take on the reserves, and he came close to winning the title.
Mr Marriott, aged 48, said: “As manager of Eagley, I brought Andy there for the 2009-2010 season.
“Eagley had a lot of success over three seasons because of Andy’s commitment and hard work.
“He gave a lot of time to lads who, if they hadn’t played football, may have gone down the wrong road.”
“This is a great loss. Andy was a fantastic man who had a lot of time for others.”
Mr Leece, a Bolton Wanderers fan, ran the Colliers Arms pub for three years and even set up a team there.
He had previously worked in sales and later went on to work for the Ring and Ride service.
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Andy Leece’s son, Mitchell, aged 26, writes his own poignant tribute to his dad — his hero.
MY dad was an old -fashioned family man. Very passionate in every aspect of life. He loved football whether playing, managing or watching.
He had a claim that in every competition he played in he won — and he had the trophies to back it up.
He always spoke about the Turton FC days where he played for years and won a lot of trophies.
After playing, he came watching me play for Bolton Lads Club before setting up a team with Conrad Henry and Mark Aspen which is where his managing career begun.
He managed my teams for years until I joined Eagley where he just came to watch.
In 2006, my dad decided he wanted to own a pub, which he did for the next three years. He set up a football team from the Colliers Arms which I played for.
By this time though I had an ego and nobody could tell me what to do during a game. That was until he dragged me off the pitch for answering him back in a quarter-final.
He continued the game with 10 men and still went on to win. He was always right. A couple of days later we kissed and made up.
By the end of the season he had been bitten by the managing bug once again and heard of the reserves job at Turton which delighted him.
I played there for him for two years. Until myself and a couple of other people talked him into becoming reserves team manager at Eagley.
More recently he watched me play for Atherton Collieries whenever he could make it.
He always had a smile on his face and enjoyed spending time with his friends.
My dad was an animal lover and had boxer dogs all his life. He has left behind a lovely boxer called Jonti and an African grey parrot called Coco.
He loved my sister Emma to bits and also my mum Nikki. He had time for anybody and he was a very wise man who enjoyed other people’s company.
He was a huge Bolton Wanderers fan and he never let me forget that he played football with John McGinlay for two years for Belle View veterans team.