A Highland League stalwart has been described as an “absolute gent” and a huge loss to his club.
Tom Christie, director of Huntly FC, has died at the age of 62.
A minute’s silence will be held before Saturday’s home game against Nairn as a mark of respect.
The club last night hailed Mr Christie’s “tireless” efforts to boost their profile and said they were devastated by his death.
In a statement, they said: “Tom was the driving force behind establishing what has been described as ‘the best matchday hospitality in the Highland League’ and worked tirelessly behind the scenes on sponsorship and commercial activities as well as assisting with key fund raising events.
“All at the club have been left devastated by the news and he will be sorely missed by everyone at Christie Park.
“All our thoughts are with Tom’s wife Susan, his family and all his friends at this sad time.”
Businessman Mr Christie was appointed as director at Huntly FC in 2013 and went on to be a vital cog in the side’s operations.
In 2015, he helped co-ordinate a new partnership between Huntly FC and Pipeline Technique Limited, with the aim to promote football in the community from youth through to senior level.
Huntly FC chairman Gordon Carter said: “Tom was a very popular and hugely respected figure at Christie Park during his six years at the club.
“He was a dear friend to me and many others in our close knit club”.
Fans and fellow football team bosses shared their tributes online.
Stevie Dolan, former assistant manager at Huntly FC and current manager at Deveronrale FC, had fond memories of Mr Christie.
He said: “Tom put things right when he joined Huntly.
“He was a big character and a pleasure to know him.
“He would always be the first to greet you after games and really improved hospitality at the games, as well as fundraising and sponsorship.
“His death is just such a sad event.”
And fan Debra Lorimer described him as a “gentleman”.
Mr Christie was a regular visitor to Christie Park and known to many in the Huntly area.
His children both attended Gordon Schools and his son David was a regular in the club’s under-21 team which played in the Aberdeenshire league last year, as well as playing as a trialist for the first team against Formartine United in January.
Mr Christie’s background was in insurance, and his own business, Independent Insurance Brokers Ltd is one of the largest of its kind in the north of Scotland.