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Tributes paid to 'family man' and Grantham Town Academy manager Mark, who died aged 49

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Tributes have been paid after a “fantastic person and family man” died aged 49.

An outpouring of grief followed news of the death of Mark Bland, manager of Grantham Town under-23s and a director at the club.

Mark died early on Saturday morning, leaving wife Michelle and son Louis, who ran the Gingerbreads academy side with his dad.

Tributes have been paid to Mark Bland who died aged 49. (52704201)
Tributes have been paid to Mark Bland who died aged 49. (52704201)

Louis described his father as a “fantastic person and family man”.

He said: “My dad was the most caring and funniest person in the world.

“People say stuff like that when people pass away but this is all 100 per cent true.

Grantham Town held a minute's applause for Mark on Saturday. (52721045)
Grantham Town held a minute's applause for Mark on Saturday. (52721045)

“He was my inspiration and my best friend and I will never ever forget him.

“He is the reason I am who I am today because of the sacrifices he made to always put me first in everything we did.”

Mark was born on January 30, 1972, to parents Des and Carol.

He grew up in Ingoldsby and attended the village primary school before moving on to the Charles Read secondary school in Corby Glen.

He had two sisters, Mel and Donna, and met his wife-to-be, Michelle, in June 1990, marrying four years later.

Louis said that he and his mother had received hundreds of messages, and that it had been “absolutely brilliant to hear what everyone thought of my dad”.

He added that his family would miss him, but the Grantham community would as well.

Mark worked for Vale Garden Houses for 28 years until June this year , when he took up a full-time role at Grantham Town doing jobs for the academy and first team.

He was also recently elected to the board of directors.

Mark’s hobbies mostly involved sports, especially football. He has been involved in coaching for the last 18 years, working for Colsterworth Colts for 13 of those before moving on to Harrowby United. He then moved on to coach for the Gingerbreads four years ago, eventually working full-time for the club.

Details of the funeral are to be confirmed, but Grantham Town under-23s, run by Mark and Louis, are at home tomorrow against Keelby United with a 3.00pm kick off at The Meres.

All of Mark’s family are going along to watch, and Louis is encouraging people to come down to the match and pay their respects.

The news of Mark’s death sparked many tributes on social media, sharing memories of Mark, as well as a range of football clubs across the country paying their respects.

Sophie Cope, director and vice chair of Grantham Town, said: “No words can do this man justice, a massive loss to everyone who knew him.

“One of the kindest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Totally gutted! Thinking of all of his family at this sad time.”

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