Derek Brooks gave loyal service to Linfield
Irish League football and Linfield in particular will be mourning the death of Derek Brooks, who sadly passed away earlier this week.
The former secretary of Linfield finally succumbed to a neuro-degenerative disease which had decreased his quality of life after retirement.
I've been lucky to meet the great and good of sport. The stars, the rich, the famous, the heroes, the villains.
I've also met the men and women behind the scenes who invariably turn out to be much more fascinating and hard working characters.
One was Derek.
Brooksie had served Linfield for 31 years. He did so brilliantly, with professionalism, integrity and class few could ever have competed with in world football, let alone in the Irish League.
Regardless of the questions you posed to Derek about Linfield or the game in general, be they awkward, difficult or straightforward, he would always answer them in that calm, collected, knowledgeable manner of his.
No hysterics or glares that you get from some 'stars' unhappy that you haven't followed their script.
It wasn't too along ago, to mark Linfield's 125 year anniversary, that the Belfast Telegraph counted down the club's top 25 players of all time.
Had we been assessing the top 25 people who served Linfield the best, Derek, loyal husband to Roberta and proud dad of Mark, would have been up at the top of the list.
For sure, we must celebrate and enjoy the sporting gods and all their talent that makes us smile, stand, applaud and take our breath away.
But also remember those wonderful sports people who in their own way make it all possible. People like Derek Brooks.
Derek's funeral will take place at St Elizabeth's Parish Church in Dundonald tomorrow, 11am.