THE founder of the Ashbourne Aztecs junior football club has been described as “a true gentleman” after passing away aged 86.
Les Shaw formed the Aztecs in 1975, since when it has thrived and currently boasts more than 300 members, spread over 21 teams.
As well as forming the junior setup, he arranged exchanges for Aztecs players with an American soccer team, and his work with young people was even recognised by the Queen.
Aztecs chairman Julian Burton said: “On behalf of Ashbourne Aztecs Junior Football Club, I would like to pay tribute to one of our founder members, the late Les Shaw.
“The club was established by Les and his friends back in 1975 with just one team representing the youth players of Ashbourne.
“His dedication, commitment and sheer hard work was the inspiration for our present day managers and committee.
“Some of our managers remember being coached by Les from an early age, which means his memory will stay with us for many years to come.
“The club has expanded rapidly over my past four years and we are now proud to boast 306 members throughout the 21 teams, with a further two being added in the new year at under-6 level.
“Les was kept up to date with the progress regularly via his son and the sport section of the Ashbourne News Telegraph, for this we are extremely grateful, and I know he remained very proud.
“We were extremely honored when Les agreed to attend our presentation night at the Empire in 2010 to celebrate 35 years of the club.
“At this event, Les was able to shake hands with Tom Glick, chief executive of Derby County, who was our guest presenter that evening.
“It caused a lump in all our throats to see him reveling in the stage presence.
“As chairman of the club, I will insist that his legacy continues and that we continue to get as many children involved in the beautiful game as is physically possible.” His son Chris said: “He followed Ashbourne cricket, but he was really about the junior football.
“He was a true gentleman and a thoroughly nice man.”