Former chairman of Stafford Rangers dies aged 70

An upstanding and well-respected figure in Stafford has died aged 70.

Rodney Woodward
Rodney Woodward

Rodney Woodward was a humble butcher from Greyfriars who went on to became chairman of Stafford Rangers Football Club.

Woodward was born and bred in Highfields, and son of famed local hardman Stan Woodward

A professional heavyweight boxer in the 1970s, Woodward fought ill health for many years with the stoic good cheer that made him a self-made millionaire.

His boxing career was cut short by lung cancer – a chunk had to be removed while he was still in his 20s.

At the time, he could not understand why he would run out of steam in fights, but it was because he was operating on one lung.

His day job for many years was as a butcher at Fowell's where he worked behind the counter, even though it was long hours on his feet and he struggled financially, he described it as his best job.

Known as 'Rod' to many, he also run a packed amateur boxing gym at St Paul's off the Wolverhampton Road – and helped out at Stafford Rugby Club for many years too.

Everyone who knew him did not have a bad word to say about him, and at 6ft 4in and prone to drive around Stafford in a beach buggy, he wasn't hard to spot.

A former gym-goer Tony Wallace said: "I remember when my brother Josh took me to the boxing cub for the first time, we go bundled into the back of his butcher’s van, dropped off at Cannock Chase and told to make our own way back to the gym."

Woodward gravitated to running his own butcher's business in the Spa in Great Haywood, then alongside Bernard Bartlett set up the security firm Mayflower Control, which cornered the market, at one stage employing hundreds of security guards around Stafford and district.

Ray Edensor, the former 'running paramedic' who ran 25 half marathons in 25 days to celebrate the silver anniversary of the annual town 12-miler, paid tribute.

He said: "Rod was my mentor in life.

"We have lost a true gentleman who will never be forgotten."

Always a 'South Ender', he spent years living in Rowley Grove before spending his final decade in a beautiful bungalow on Burton Manor Road.

His home was a port in a storm for rich and poor.

“I wouldn't give them money but I'd always give them something to eat," he once said.

He visited a housebound friend weekly near the village of Weston just to provide him with a portion of chips from the chippie on Weston Road.

Always a fighter, he also overcame major heart surgery in his 60s.

His beloved wife Pat sang Songbird by Eva Cassidy, one of Rod’s favourites, to him on his deathbed, they would have celebrated 50 years of marriage next Boxing Day.

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