AFC Fylde Chairman David Haythornthwaite described the late Jimmy Armfield, who sadly passed away yesterday aged 82, as a gentleman on and off the pitch.

Haythornthwaite admits he will remember family friend Jimmy Armfield, who was famed for his spell with Blackpool, not just for his exploits on the pitch but more for his life off it.

PHOTO: Jimmy Armfield, alongside Preston North End legend Sir Tom Finney, opens the old AFC Fylde club shop in Kirkham to fans ahead of the FA Vase victory in 2008 (Photo: Albert Cooper)

Above all when he helped Haythornthwaite’s parents at a time when they were struggling through the same disease that saw Armfield pass away. The Fylde owner counted Armfield as a family friend as his father Alan went to Arnold School with the footballer.

He said: “It wasn’t necessarily football, which he will mainly be remembered for, but the kindness that he showed to my mother Pat and father Alan when they were both struggling through cancer.

“In football he was known as ‘Gentleman Jim’ but outside of football he was also Gentleman Jim. He was at my dad’s house all the time and was a very close family friend.

“They were both Old Arnoldians. Jimmy had a lot of loves and one of them was school, Arnold School, and of course my dad was also a big Blackpool fan which he had been all of his life, before he passed away a few years ago.

“They became friends through Arnold and the Old Arnoldians. My grandfather taught Jimmy at school and he became friends with my father.

“Jimmy was often at our house; my parents both died of cancer and Jimmy was around everyday seeing my mum and dad through those difficult times.

“I knew Jimmy pretty well myself and that is one of the reasons why he was a patron of the St George’s Day festival that I run in Lytham.

“One of his first loves was his family and he was a very big church man, he played the organ and he will be very much so missed. He didn’t have a bad word about anyone.

“It was a sad day because you don’t get to say your goodbyes, I know a lot of people would have liked to. I knew he was very ill and I’d spoken to him just six or seven weeks ago; in actual fact I was trying to get him down to Fylde to watch a game, to get him out of the house.”

AFC Fylde will be one of the first clubs to pay tribute to Armfield as they host Maidstone United in the National League tonight.

Haythornthwaite said: “We will have a minute’s applause tonight. The team will be wearing black armbands and we will probably be one of the first clubs to pay our respects.

“He is a Fylde coast legend. We have a picture of him in the hallway here at Mill Farm from when he was a very young man under a sign saying Fylde legend.”