Non-league football was in mourning today after losing one its most enduring and respected characters.
Mervyn Rowe, a former goalkeeper and later manager who served Chasetown FC and Shifnal Town over several spells, has died, aged 84.
Mr Rowe, who had successfully fought cancer and pneumonia in recent years, died peacefully at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on Monday surrounded by his family.
A keen golfer at Wergs Golf Club in the last decade, Mr Rowe was a fit and active man all his life.
Using his six foot four stature to good effect, he served his country in the Grenadier Guards for many years.
The son of a machine gunner and born near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, the family moved to Tettenhall in his early years, and he attended St Michaels junior school before he joined the Guards at the age of 16.
Within a year he graduated to corporal and he went on to become a gold sergeant, which is one level above a sergeant major, seeing active service in Palestine, the Suez and Malaya, south-east Asia, where he was ambushed by Chinese bandits and injured by shrapnel.
He married first wife Sheila, now 81, and they settled in Tettenhall and had four children.
Following his departure from the Guards, Mr Rowe worked for Wolverhampton department store Beatties for 40 years and progressed to departmental store manager before retiring.
But it’s perhaps for his achievements in football that he is best known.
Signed by legendary manager Stan Cullis, Mr Rowe, who lived in Shifnal for the last 19 years with second wife Pauline, served as an amateur goalkeeper for Wolves, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday and Lincoln City in his younger days.
Later he scouted locally for Chelsea when Geoff Hurst was manager, courtesy of his association with the England World Cup winner from when he was Telford United boss in the late 1970s.
He also managed the Wolverhampton Sunday League representative team, Codsall 440 and Armitage, when they were in the Southern League.
But Mr Rowe enjoyed his most successful spell as manager of Chasetown, steering the Scholars to two Walsall Senior Cups in the 1990s and runners-up spot in the West Midlands League, over three spells in charge.
Eldest son Michael, aged 60, said: “He was a massive man in every way and I always looked up to him, despite our many differences of opinion down the years.
“He was never late and always immaculately dressed. No one messed him about but he was loyal to people.”
The father-of-four leaves wife of 33 years Pauline, aged 79, sons Michael, Anthony, 57, and Ian, 54, daughter Diane, 55, and 11 grandchildren.Subscribe to our Newsletter