TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular football stalwart who died aged 70.

George Michael McManus, known as Mike, was a former referee and one of the founders of Deeside Sunday Football League.

He also officiated in some of the professional game’s biggest clashes – including the Merseyside and Manchester derbies.

Mr McManus, from Hadfield Close, Connah’s Quay, died on Saturday following a period of ill health. He leaves behind wife Gill, children Steve and Karen and grandchildren Connor, Freya and Benjamin.

Mr McManus was born in Shotton and always lived in the Deeside area.

He was well known for his work in local football and the newsagents he ran, GM and AG McManus, with his wife.

Paying tribute to his father, Steve said: “He has always been into his sport, he put so much effort into the Deeside Sunday Football League.

“He did a lot of work to encourage schoolchildren to play football in the school holidays and organised competitions.

“My dad loved his grandchildren. Every time he chatted to them there was a big smile on his face. He always did anything and everything for his family.”

For a time Mr McManus juggled running the newsagents with regular duties in football’s upper echelons.

Steve said: “Primarily when he had his Football League career he was a linesman. He did what would be the Premier League now.

“He covered games like Liverpool vs Everton and Manchester United vs Man City. He went to Bulgaria, Portugal and Copenhagen as a linesman in the European Cup.

“He was also a referee in the Welsh FA. He didn’t cover the FA Cup final but I think he did big games like Wrexham v Swansea.”

Mr McManus sold the newsagents in the mid 1980s, when he was most actively involved in football, to return to his original trade as a cabinet maker.

Steve added: “He had a lot of association with the Cheshire FA and the Welsh FA.

“He also played cricket in Connah’s Quay in his late teens and early 20s before he became involved with football. A lot of local people knew my dad.”

The funeral of Mr McManus will take place next Wednesday, July 6 at 11am at Blacon crematorium.

The family have asked for family flowers only but any donations will gratefully be received for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital or the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Six-month-old Benjamin spent time at the neonatal unit after being born
prematurely and Freya, 4, is undergoing treatment at Alder Hey for stomach problems.