Highland League grounds fell silent at the weekend to honour the memory of one of the competition’s most popular characters.
Sandy Stables rose to senior levels within the SFA while spending nearly half a century running his beloved hometown team Keith.
The 69-year-old died on Friday, on the eve of the new Highland League season, following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Keith postponed their match against Forres Mechanics at the weekend as a mark of respect while a minute’s silence was held before all the other games.
Last night, family friend and Keith FC ambassador, Ian Thain, described Mr Stables as a “father figure” to many in the sport.
The former goalkeeper said: “A lot of us stayed at Keith for a long time. We had seven testimonials within about 11 years at one point – and a lot of that was down to the involvement of Sandy and the family feel he had helped create.
“Wherever you went, if you said you were involved with Keith, then people seemed to know about Sandy. He was absolutely synonymous with the club.”
Mr Stables joined the club’s committee in 1966 and only stepped down as chairman in 2014 to assume the title of honorary president.
During that period, the Moray club won six Highland League titles, six League Cups, two Qualifying Cups, two Aberdeenshire Cups, five Aberdeenshire Shields, five Aberdeenshire League titles and six Highland Youth Cups.
When he stepped down from the team’s committee, the main stand at his second home at Kynoch Park was renamed in his honour.
Mr Stables, who worked in the whisky industry before retiring about a decade ago, also joined Scottish football’s upper echelons – spending 28 years as a Scottish FA councillor.
Highland League president Raymond Cardno, said: “Sandy is the only person to have served two terms as Highland League president in the last 100 years – initially in 1984 and then in 2006.
“He was a huge advocate of Highland League football and staunchly fought its corner during his service with the SFA.
“He was held in high esteem as a football administrator, but also as a thoroughly decent man.”
SFA president Alan McRae described Mr Stables as a “true one-off”.
He said: “Sandy’s enthusiasm and passion for the game was infectious.
“He was a stalwart of football in the Highlands and was a respected voice in a variety of roles for the Scottish FA for over 25 years.”