DEREK Nuttall told me once that he preferred to work at night during his time as secretary for Northwich Victoria.

He would sit in a small office at his house in Lostock Gralam and, by lamplight, complete the paperwork for some of Vics’ most famous signings.

It’s a tiny detail, but one that captures his dedication to a club with which he fell in love when he watched them for the first time as a schoolboy.

And he filled in those forms until his retirement, aged 83, six years ago.

He may not have had to switch on his computer after darkness as often, but his unconditional commitment to supporting his favourite team never wavered.

It was a quality that earned him the admiration and respect of many who follow non-league football, not only in Northwich but beyond.

For proof, read the many messages of support sent to the club in the past few days.

They are warm, and appreciative of the sheer effort – sustained over half a century, remember – he was prepared to make to keep the club going.

Few people have that sort of bond with their local team any more.

And that’s a bad thing.

Clubs like Vics, or Witton Albion, or 1874 Northwich rely on volunteers to run from week to week.

Put simply, they’re looking for Derek Nuttalls.

“I’m just proud to have played at least a small part,” he said during an interview with the Guardian in 2010.

Few, regardless of which colours they wear on a Saturday afternoon, would agree his role has been a minimal one.

Indeed a tribute I received on Monday from one of my predecessors in this role, Mike Talbot-Butler, argued the opposite.

“If ever there was a one-club-man it was Derek,” he wrote.

“And I dread to think what might have happened to the Vics without his foresight, leadership and example.”

Derek had been due to address supporters at a meeting last week to discuss the club’s future.

It went ahead, and a chair was left empty as a mark of respect.

“My dad was there in spirit,” said his son Chris.

It feels a long time ago since Vics lifted the FA Trophy.

Nor have they played again in non-league football’s top flight since they were relegated in 2009.

There is little prospect of a return any time soon either.

If anything, that hardened Derek’s resolve.

“I’ve been lucky,” he said when asked for his favourite moments while supporting the club.

What he did not add, of course, is they’ve been lucky to have had him.