TRIBUTES have been paid to a lifelong Bury FC supporter who died after collapsing in his seat at a game.

Ian Doody, aged 71, fell ill during the early stages of Saturday's match against Carlisle United at Gigg Lane, and was taken to Fairfield General Hospital where he later died.

Mr Doody's niece Di Eldred described the widower, who lived in Cuckoo Lane, Fairfield, as a 'family-oriented' and 'larger than life' individual.

She said: “Ian was very popular and was always busy going somewhere or doing something. He worshipped his daughter Katron, and thought the world of her.

“He liked a laugh and a joke, and loved fishing. He liked his nights out around Fairfield, and also had a little group of friends who he would meet up with and go to Greggs in the Mill Gate with every morning for breakfast.

"He was not unwell at all, this has come completely out of the blue."

Mr Doody, a regular at Gigg Lane since he was a young boy, had gone to the game with his brother Kevin, as well as Ms Eldred, her husband Shaun and their two boys.

Their pre-match routine was the same as every other home match with the family of season ticket holders meeting up in the club's social club to 'have a laugh, catch up, and predict the score'.

At about 2.40pm, the group headed for the ground, with Mr Doody taking up his usual seat inside the Main Stand.

He was found slumped in his seat shortly before kick off.

“We were sat in the family stand because we had the kids," explained Ms Eldred. "He left us to go to his seats and we went on to ours and got a call to say he had been taken ill.

“We ran down to where he sits and he was being resuscitated."

Despite the best efforts of club staff, he was taken to Fairfield Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The family now want to thank the club for their desperate attempts to save Mr Doody.

Mrs Eldred said: “Everyone at the club was fantastic. A nurse who was in the crowd was one of the first to attend to Ian. Then the club doctor came and the physios.

“Nobody was giving up on him and they tried their best.

“If this had to happen then it happened in the right place. He lived and breathed Bury FC.

"He had the same seat for years, he would not let anybody else sit in it.

“He liked nothing more than meeting up a few hours before the game and finding out what everyone had been up to.

"He has left a gaping hole and we are all heartbroken."

After the news was announced on Saturday evening, followers of clubs across the country joined Shakers supporters in expressing their sympathies on social media.

A statement posted on Bury FC's official website after the match read: “Everybody at Bury Football Club is truly saddened to hear of the passing of a fellow Shaker who was taken ill during today's game.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this devastating time.”

Bury boss Ryan Lowe also tweeted: “I’m absolutely gutted to hear the news that one of us Shakers has passed away today.

“My deepest sympathy goes to all the family and those close to him, it really does put football into perspective.

“I would like to send my condolences to all those affected at this sad time from me the manager, all my staff and all my players

“All our love to the family.

“Once a Shaker always a Shaker.”

And Mr Doody's family say the messages received over the past few days have proved to be a source of comfort in a difficult time.

"We cannot thank everyone enough. The messages have really helped us get through and we are getting some comfort from them in what is a traumatic time."