TRIBUTES have been paid to a Vale of Clwyd footballing stalwart who died earlier this week.

Derek Hughes, a long-time groundsman at Denbigh Town Football Club and a stalwart of the Llanrhaeadr Summer League team, died on Monday morning.

Mr Hughes was the groundsman at Denbigh Town's Central Park ground for over a quarter-of-a-century and he was a talented goalkeeper during his playing days.

Denbigh Town secretary Stephen Whitfield told the Denbigh Town website: "The place simply will not be the same without Derek knocking about.

"When any of us went to the ground on a Friday, we would initially see Derek's car in front of the open shed doors and so go over.

"He was a straight talker was Derek and so there was always an interesting chat to be had.

"I will miss him so much and so will everyone here.

"We cannot believe he won't be back. It is heartbreaking."

Denbigh Town chairman Shon Powell added: "After hearing the terribly sad news, we are all devastated at the loss of a dear friend above anything else.

"He will be sorely missed by all.

"Derek was involved with the developments at the club over the years and it is difficult to see how we will manage without him."

Paying tribute to Mr Hughes, Llanrhaeadr FC's Bryn Evans said: "All I can say is that he will be a huge loss to us all at the club.

"He started taking me to summer league games when I was 8-9 years old.

"He was always on the phone Tuesday and Friday morning asking about the score and who scored.

"He spent hours before the season on getting our pitch playable."