TRIBUTES have been paid to one of Altrincham FC's most stalwart supporters following his death from cancer.

Mark Eckersall, known by many at Moss Lane as 'Ecky', had been far more than a dedicated Robins fan.

He had previously served as the club's commercial manager and was known for some time as Alty's away-day travel co-ordinator, as well as for his stints on Radio Robins.

Mark, who lived in Hale, had managed to witness the side's highly-anticipated promotion to the National League last week.

One poignant picture of him, shared by the club as his death was announced, shows him being greeted by boss Phil Parkinson at an away match versus Kidderminster.

Mark was very ill even then but he had made the trip to the Aggborough Stadium, though not without medical supplies to guard against any downturn in his condition.

Later Phil said: "He was so ill he might have been sick at any moment and he had to take all sorts of medication at set times.

"But all he was bothered about was making the long trip to Kidderminster and making sure he got behind the lads."

The manager relayed his loyalty to the players - who "all thought the world of him" - and is convinced that Alty never looked back from then on.

Added Phil: "I told the players all about him at the end of the game and what he had gone through to offer his support.

"I left that echoing in their ears, and we never looked back after that.

"I would like to think that, by demonstrating that desire and determination to remain an Alty fan in the most trying circumstances, he left an imprint on the upturn in our fortunes."

Club media officer Brian Flynn said: 'Ecky was one of my closest friends and the funniest person that I have ever met.

"'He did an incredible amount for the football club that he loved so dearly, from painting the ground during the school summer holidays as a teenager through to organising the coach travel for what must have been more than 20 years, up until our last coach trip to Hereford in February.

"He was the fans' leader at home and away matches; it wasn't the same when he wasn't there, and he worked tirelessly to encourage people to support Alty as much as they possibly could.

"I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a huge number of memorable times with Mark, and my feeling of loss today is greater than any that I have experienced outside of my own family."

An announcement is yet be made concerning funeral arrangements.