‘We have lost a special person’ – tributes paid to influential AFC Portchester stalwart Steve Woods
The influential Royals figure passed away last Friday, aged 61, after a short illness.
All of the AFC Portchester family, present and past, as well as the local non-league scene have been rocked by the news.
Woods played a vital part in helping the club evolve to the position it finds itself in today during his 30 years at Wicor Rec.
Former Royals reserves and first team manager Stiles was someone who had a close relationship with Woods while at Portchester.
The pair held various positions at the club right from the youth ranks to senior level.
Stiles and Woods both travelled to Buckingham Palace in June 2011 when Portchester received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The Queen’s Award ‘recognises outstanding voluntary contributions and sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged to be of the highest standard.’
Portchester received the Award for supporting access to football for all ages and spearheading local charity fundraising activities.
Stiles said: 'I’d known Woodsy for 20-odd years.
‘I worked with him quite closely when I was at Portchester and it’s just really sad news.
‘Steve was always about and he was doing his bit.
‘I know him personally as well one of his sons and my sons were good friends at school - there’s quite a connection there, really.
‘He was the chairman at one time but I came up right through the mini-soccer, youth and everything.
‘He was the chairman of the youth section for some time and so on.
‘At various times we swapped roles of what we had, so we just worked with each other for quite a few years.
‘I was absolutely gobsmacked, I had a text at 5.30 on Friday morning and I couldn’t believe it.
Woods was also widely known across the Portchester community through his past career as a bank manager and for his support for a number of organisations, including being a governor at Northern School.
His son, Simon, is a former Portchester striker who is now part of Stiles’ first team squad at Wessex League Premier Division rivals Fareham Town.
He was a regular at games right up to when the current Wessex League season was paused in mid-December due to increasing lockdown restrictions.
Royals chairman Paul Kelly said: ‘Everyone at AFC Portchester is deeply shocked and saddened at the news of Steve’s death - it is a major blow for everyone connected with the club.
‘He played a massive part in helping to build the club to where it is today and without his help and influence we wouldn’t have been able to do it.
‘To so many of us he was a colleague and a friend. He was a great character to have around the club and loved by everyone at AFC Portchester.
‘On behalf of the club, I send our condolences to Steve’s family and friends at this sad time. I was absolutely gutted when I heard the news of his passing.’
Portchester vice-chairman Graeme Moir added: ‘There are not many people at non league football clubs like Steve Woods - those who put in so much of their time and effort for the good of their club and the community.
‘At Portchester we are lucky to have several people like this.
‘However, we have just lost one of these special people with the passing of Steve.
‘I've only known him for a few years but when I arrived at the club Woodsy was a constant friendly face who helped me to settle in and find my feet.
‘He was always there with help and advice and just as importantly he was great company with a great sense of humour.’