WITTON Albion are mourning the loss of three men who have made significant contributions to the club.

Club announcements over the past few days have confirmed the passing of vice chairman Reg Hardingham, ex-player Keith Higgins and loyal supporter Eric Steele.

Hardingham, 93, was a director for 11 years. He died in the early hours of this morning with a club tribute stating: “Reg was a gentleman and will be sorely missed.”

Former chairman John Salmon highlighted Hardingham as an ‘unsung hero’ when revealing an incredible act of generosity from the staunch Wittoner and his partner Judith Kelly three years ago.

At a time when Witton were finding a way through the Covid-19 pandemic in a steady position, Salmon said: “Director’s loans have assisted over many years with the running of the club, and Mr Hardingham and Mrs Kelly have been instrumental in helping with that.

"They’ve decided to write off their existing loan [over a number of years] which is worth £45,000 to the club so that massively improves our balance sheet.

“I would have loved to have met him in his heyday because he’s brilliant now – in other words, he must have been some fella to work with. I’ve told him that several times, he’s quite an unsung hero!"

Meanwhile, Higgins, born in 1938, was a Witton great on the field and a servant off it.

From his 10 years as a player between 1956 and 1966, he took to the field 429 times which sees him the fifth highest post-war appearance maker.

After hanging up his boots, Higgins became the team’s trainer/physio – a role he continued for many years including during 1992 when Witton reached the FA Trophy Final at the old Wembley.

Steele, 97, was a huge supporter of the club and a former associate director who, according to the club’s website, was hugely involved in the recovery process after ‘everything went pear shaped’ in 1998.

Having previously lived in Wheatfield Close, Barnton, he died peacefully at Acorn Hollow Nursing Home.

His funeral service is to be held at Christ Church, Barnton, on Monday, February 26, at 11.30am, followed by interment at Barnton Cemetery.

The wake will be at The Hayhurst in Bostock following the service and anybody looking to attend should contact his daughter on 07720 742261 as numbers are limited.

Witton Albion have expressed their sincere condolences to the families and friends of the three men.