PNE fans and players pay tribute as supporter dies age 54

GENTLEMAN: Mick Murphy was a Preston North End mascot aged 50

GENTLEMAN: Mick Murphy was a Preston North End mascot aged 50

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Preston North End supporters and players have paid tribute to PNE ‘super fan’ Mick Murphy who died this week.

Mick, 54, was a lifelong North End supporter and a keen autograph collector, and was known by footballers up and down the country.

Fun: Mayor of Preston, Coun Veronica Afrin pulling a cracker with Mick Murphy at St Catherine's Hospice, Lostock Hall

Fun: Mayor of Preston, Coun Veronica Afrin pulling a cracker with Mick Murphy at St Catherine's Hospice, Lostock Hall

Despite battling against lung cancer, he continued to attend Preston games home and away, with him making the long trip to Ipswich for the Lilywhites’ FA Cup tie just a few days before he passed away.

For the New Year’s Day win against Port Vale, Mick and his family and friends were special guests of North End in an executive box at Deepdale.

PNE striker Iain Hume said: “All the players and staff knew Mick, he was a lovely guy who we saw outside the ground at every game getting autographs.

“We knew he was very ill but he bore that very bravely and was always cheerful.

“For him to make that long trip to Ipswich in his last few days was testament to him.

“His last game at Deepdale was on New Year’s Day when the club had sorted out the executive box for him.

“Some of the lads went up to see him afterwards to sign autographs and have a chat with him, and it was nice to know he had such a good time.

“Mick was Preston’s super fan in many ways.”

Other North End players and past players posted their tributes on Twitter.

PNE skipper John Welsh wrote: “Saddened to hear about Mick Murphy passing away. He was a nice fella and supported us home and away. It was a pleasure to know him.”

Defender Bailey Wright posted: “A true supporter and a top bloke, always smiling. Going to miss him around the place.”

And midfielder Keith Keane wrote: “RIP Mick Murphy, a pleasure knowing you.”

Ex-North End centre-half Sean St Ledger said: “Got to know Mick pretty well, what a fella, Preston through and through.”

Mick travelled to away games with fellow PNE fans Lorna Slater and Cath Sarginson.

Mrs Slater said: “Mick was a genuinely nice person, good humoured and loved Preston North End.”

For his 50th birthday in December 2009, Mick - nicknamed ‘Wack’ - was a mascot for North End’s game against Plymouth.

He was a keen footballer himself, playing seven-a-side regularly until well into his 40s.

Last month he took part in the St Catherine’s Hospice Santa Dash, helping raise money for the Lostock Hall-based centre.

Mick died peacefully at his home in Ashton, Preston, on Wednesday morning.

He leaves wife Debbie and son Matthew.