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Grantham Town mourn former manager 'Wilko'

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Former Grantham Town manager John Wilkinson's death was announced by Lincoln United on Friday evening.

Wilkinson managed both Town and United multiple times, first arriving at The Meres in the 1999-2000 season and winning the Gingerbreads promotion to the Dr Marten's Premier League in 2002.

A club statement from Lincoln United announced the following: “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we share the devastating news that Lincoln United legend, John Wilkinson, has sadly passed away.

John Wilkinson RIP
John Wilkinson RIP

"All at Lincoln United send their love and thoughts to the Wilkinson family.”

Wilkinson held other roles at Ashby Avenue, Lincoln, where a stand is named after him, whilst his son Sam, a former Gingerbread, is United's current manager.

Grantham Town vice-chairman Sophie Cope paid tribute to the former Gingerbreads boss. She said: "John firstly was a friend to us, we'd all spent many hours chatting, laughing and enjoying a drink.

"His time as a manager at the club was successful, but he made his mark on everyone with the fun and love that he had for life. We'll be honouring him at The Meres as soon as possible.

The Gingerbreads are scheduled too play Lincoln United at Ashby Avenue on Tuesday night.

Sophie added: "It'll be a different day on Tuesday when we're at Lincoln. You heard him before you saw him as he made his way past people.

"I am sure, though, everyone will be telling a story or two about him.

Former players took to social media to share tributes to their 'gaffer'.

Sean Cann: Such sad news. An absolute legend. Snapped me up at 17 for Lincoln United, gave me my first real full time job and opened my eyes to the world of business. Thoughts go out to his family. RIP Gaffer.

Kallum Smith: Lincoln United wouldn't have been the same without him. Grantham Town wouldn't have been the same without him. Non-league wouldn't have been the same without him. The lives of so many footballers wouldn't have been the same without the gaffer John Wilkinson.

Danny Brooks: RIP gaffer, you’ll be missed, influenced so many lads careers in non-league and will always be remembered. Absolute legend. Thoughts are with the Wilkinson family.

Sam Mullarkey: Will never forget his bad jokes to break the nerves in the changing room just before everyone went out. A true gent and non-league legend. RIP John.

Jack McGovern: Really sorry to hear this. He was a great bloke and a pleasure to be around. My thoughts are with all the family. X

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