1874 NORTHWICH chairman Paul Stockton has died after a short illness, the club has announced.

He was 67.

A pivotal figure in their formation late in 2012, he served as chairman from the start.

“It is with enormous sadness that we have to advise that Paul passed away earlier today,” read a statement issued by the club on Friday.

“He was extremely proud of 1874 and everybody involved with us.”

A former maths teacher, Stockton followed Northwich Victoria for more than half a century.

He was chairman of Vics’ supporters trust before a vote by members of that group in favour of starting their own team.

“Paul was well-respected and set exceptionally high standards.

“He has been ‘hands-on’, and was involved in every aspect of running the club from leading the ‘Stadium Gang’ who prepare the pitch before match-day to collecting the famous Birties pies for fans to eat at the game.

“However he was happiest when he could settle down to watch his team play.”