An era has drawn to a close at The J.Davidson Stadium after Derek Wilshaw reluctantly called time on his 20-year reign as Altrincham club secretary.
Derek's unerring commitment to the Alty cause began in 1996 when he answered a call for help on match days, manning the door at the main entrance and ensuring club personnel, visiting teams and guests were all greeted with a welcoming smile.
He took on the more onerous role of secretary a couple of years later and clocked up two decades of sterling service before a recent bout of pneumonia left him reassessing the demands of the job and concluding it may be time to step down.
Grahame Rowley led the tributes to Derek's priceless contribution to the club's smooth running behind the scenes and revealed he will continue to help with financial matters on a part-time basis, as well as acting as a sounding board for his successor, former Stalybridge Celtic secretary Paul Carter.
'It is with the greatest reluctance that Derek has decided it's time to step aside,' said the Alty chairman. 'It is typical of him that he has done it with the club's best interests in mind, because he feels, after his recent health problem, he may not be able to do the job justice in the way he always has done.
'He will be a massive loss to the football club as a day-to-day person, because he has been here in the office, keeping things ticking over, from 9am to 5pm five days a week - six, if we have a match on a Saturday.
'Those are massive shoes to fill, but we have a very able person coming in to replace him, in the shape of Paul, who a lot of people will know from his time at Stalybridge. He will feed off Derek's knowledge. They have already met, and it is again typical of Derek that he is happy to smooth the way for Paul and help him settle into the role.
'His knowledge really is exceptional. I still come to him if ever I have a problem that needs solving, be it about players, admin or whatever, and he always has the answer. He usually comes up with some gem. I will miss that.
'He has always been very meticulous, and I think that is why, in all the time he has been here, we have never had a problem on the secretarial side. He has been a real credit to the club, and I for one will be very sorry to see him step aside.
'But it's great to see he still wants to make a contribution by helping on the financial side of things. It's what he enjoys - paying the bills, looking after HMRC and PAYE payments!
'I don't think people realise how much work is involved as a club secretary. I have come to realise just how much during Derek's recent absence. Many a time, I've arrived at the ground in the morning with a list of jobs to do but have got none of them done because I've been too busy with the workload Derek would normally take care of. There's no doubt about it - that input will be missed.'