Tributes paid for ‘Mr Bideford’ who helped save club from extinction

Bideford AFC has paid tribute to club president Jimmy McElwee, who has died after a long battle with illness.

The club released a statement on Monday evening to say Jimmy, who represented Bideford across some 60 years both on and off the pitch, had passed away.

Playing as a goalkeeper for the Robins in the 1950s, he went on to play a major role in saving the club from extinction in the 1980s, forming a committee to organise a limited company.

He went on to become club chairman for nearly 20 years before becoming the club's president.

Sean Joyce was taken on by Jimmy back in 1998, and the manager led tributes to him, calling him 'Mr Bideford'.

"He was a lovely bloke, friendly and always smiling," said Joyce.

"He was a massive influence on me being at this club.

"He gave me this job when we were bottom of the league. I got forced into it by Jimmy at a time when I had never thought about managing and it never appealed to me.

"One of my greatest achievements is that we stayed up that season.

"He started me off on this journey and he probably should have sacked me two or three times over the years, and I really appreciate him sticking with me, because a chairman today wouldn't do the same.

"He's a massive loss for the club. He's Mr Bideford in my eyes."

A club statement said: "We are saddened to announce that club president Jimmy McElwee has passed away after a long battle with illness...Our thoughts are with Jimmy's family at this sad time.