Fans and players set to pay tribute to "Mr Doncaster Rovers" photographer Steve Uttley

Upset supporters and players will pay tribute to a man dubbed "Mr Doncaster Rovers" tonight following his tragic death from a massive heart attack.

Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 8:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 9:16 am
Doncaster Rovers "legend" Steve Uttley.

The club's former media manager Steve Uttley died on Sunday night aged 58 and hundreds of supporters and players were united in grief and shock yesterday as the tragic news began to spread.

Now fans and players are set to pay tribute to Mr Uttley, 58, at tonight's crucial relegation battle against local rivals Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park.

Darren Ferguson's team will wear black armbands while supporters are also planning their own tributes with proposals to chant Mr Uttley's name during the 14th minute of the match - he was at the club for 14 years - and also the 58th minute - his age.

Several fans have also mooted the idea of holding aloft lit mobile phones as a moving vigil to the much-loved media manager whose death sent shockwaves through the footballing world yesterday. One fan, Lee Jones wrote on Facebook: "He was Mr Doncaster Rovers. Let's pay a proper tribute to him."

Some fans have also suggested the idea of a collection for Mr Uttley's family instead of attending Rovers' away game at Bradford City on Saturday which has become embroiled in a row over expensive ticket prices for away supporters, with some supporters urging a boycott of the match.

The club has announced there will be a minute's applause for Mr Uttley at Rovers' next home game against Peterborough United at the Keepmoat Stadium on March 19.

Carol Smith, his partner of six years, broke the tragic news on Facebook yesterday morning writing: "I'm sorry to share that Steve my partner for the last 6 years and best friend who I loved dearly passed away very suddenly last night from a massive heart attack. His family and I are all devastated by his loss."

His popularity among Rovers fans was so immense that at one stage yesterday, his name was trending on social media site Twitter.

Scores of current and former players also lined-up to pay tribute.

The club's highest appearance maker James Coppinger tweeted: "Devastating news about @uttleymedia passing away.My thoughts are with his family.A true club legend #RIPSteve."

Defender Cedric Evina tweeted: Such sad news about Steve, one of the first people i met when I joined the club, made me feel so welcome. #RIPSteve #RoversFamily

Dave Syers, now with Rochdale, wrote: "RIP Steve Uttley. Top guy around the place whilst I was at #drfc. Thoughts with his family" while Spanish ace Marc de Val Fernandez wrote on Facebook: "So sad of the death of a true legend. A great friend and an amazing professional. Thanks Steve Uttley Always with us. R.I.P."

Striker Billy Sharp, who played for Rovers just days after the tragic death of his baby son Luey tweeted: "RIP Steve Uttley,you did a lot for me and my family,the photo u took after the goal for luey means everything to me."

Francis Tierney, dubbed Sir Francis Tierney by fans for his golden goal against Dagenham and Redbridge at Stoke's Britannia Stadium which sealed the club's return to the Football League wrote: "Very sad news about Steve Uttley today,a really nice bloke and my thoughts are with his family."

Striker Mark McCammon, the scorer of the first ever goal at the Keepmoat Stadium added on Facebook: "RIP Steve, Sad news you left us too early" and fellow goal grabber Iain Hume wrote: "Devastated to hear the news of another gentleman of the game passing away! Gone far too soon! R.I.P. Steve Uttley."

Former Rovers chairman John Ryan, supporters of Rovers and Mansfield, the Football League and members of the media both locally and nationally also paid tribute, along with fellow photographers.

Chris Morley, National Union of Journalists' Northern and Midlands Organiser, said: “Steve was a longstanding member of the union who cared passionately not just about his job and club but about football and his profession as a media worker.

“While wanting to do his absolute professional best for his club, Doncaster Rovers, Steve was always conscious of the ethics of what he was doing and he made sure that those he worked with and was working with were treated in an honest and straightforward way.

“Steve carried out a very stressful role assisting his fellow media colleagues cover Rovers and when he left it was a testament to his character, strong contacts and goodwill gained from years in the trade that he made the successful transition to the world of freelance.”

Mr Uttley, who also ran his own photography business, charted the rise of the club from the Conference to the Championship and captured some of the most remarkable moments in the club's history on camera including the League One play-off final victory over Leeds at Wembley in 2008 and the club's dramatic last gasp win over Brentford which earned the club the League One Championship.

He also took photographs of the club's Johnstone Paints Trophy win over Bristol Rovers at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2007 as well as the club's run to the Carling Cup quarter finals in 2005.

He was also part of the Doncaster Rovers team which conquered the Inca Trail in South America, joining players James Coppinger, James O'Connor and Mark Wilson for the gruelling expedition which raised thousands of pounds for charity.

O'Connor paid tribute on Facebook writing:" Great fella who will be sadly missed. My condolences go to Steve's family and friends. R.I.P. mate."

He left the club after a shake-up a few years ago and had been working for League Two club Mansfield Town in a similar capacity. The Nottinghamshire club are also understood to be planning their own tributes.

Mr Uttley's daughter Suzanne still works at the club as football administrator.

During his time at Rovers, Mexborough-born Mr Uttley, who lived in Mansfield, was charged with putting the matchday programme together, arranging interviews with players and managers and helping to promote the club both locally and nationally. He was also instrumental in setting up Doncaster-born One Direction star Louis Tomlinson's appearances at the Keepmoat Stadium.

He was also heavily involved in the production of Rovers World magazine, the publication produced by the club and Doncaster Free Press reporter Darren Burke during the club's days in the Championship and was a staunch member of the National Union of Journalists.

Details of Mr Uttley's funeral are expected to be announced in the next few days.

Watch Steve talking about his golden years at Doncaster Rovers in this interview with Free Press sports writer Paul Goodwin from February 2015