Andrew Guest reckons SJR Worksop wouldn’t even be a football club to speak of if it wasn’t for the behind-the-scenes work of Kev Stafford.
Tributes have been pouring in for much-loved Stafford after he sadly passed away recently.
Part of the club for almost 20 years, Stafford played an influential role in the club’s name change in 2002, allowing SJR to become the club they are today.
Making the move from Sunday League onto the National League system was a move that has seen SJR go from strength to strength – something Guest says wouldn’t have been on the table had it not been for people like Kev.
“The club wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for the help of people like him. The things he’s done have made a huge difference to mine and many other lives,” Guest said.
“We’ve lost not only one of our own but one of the best people many of us have ever known and without this man our club wouldn’t be where it is today.
“The work he did behind the scenes raising money for this football club gave us the platform to make the big move into Saturday football. He spent most nights in Joseph’s chasing up money and put a system in place that funded the club for around 20 years.
“His passion for the club shone through all the time, and he was always there with positive words no matter what had happened.
“In those early years of running the club, so many times I spoke to him about walking away from it, but he would always have a chat with me at the bar, reassuring me I was doing a good job. Little things like that make a big difference to your life.
“From the day I took over the club he was there from the beginning, even though he had supposedly retired.”
A football man through and through, Kev first helped Guest when he was his assistant manager at now defunct outfit East Midlands United.
His infectious character endeared him to many of the town’s young players.
“Many of us who grew up together have so much to thank him for,” Guest added.
“He gave us lifts everywhere when we played for EMUs, he took us on our first ever football tour to Ireland, he gave us so many laughs in Liverpool for Bassetlaw Boys.
“I rang him last July to tell him we were setting up a junior section. He loved the idea and said it was like we were stepping in to replace the EMUs set-up that had folded a few years back.
“I’m glad we honoured him in a small way a few years back, a lot of the time we say these nice things about people when they’re gone, but on that night, it showed how well thought of he was, when many of the old players come along to present him his award.”
Although he won’t be back on the touchline when football gets back underway, Guest is sure Kev’s legacy will be felt for years to come.
“How he lived his life was a fine example to us all. Great humour, a dedicated family man, and a hard worker. And he managed to find a balance of being a hard, strong character whilst also showing a very caring side.
“We won’t forget what he’s done for us and so many others. Our thoughts go out to his family, who are an absolute credit to him. I’ll miss you Kev but thanks for the great memories.”