A loving son scored a goal in tribute to his football fanatic dad on the day he died.
Arron Cross insisted on playing for Morecambe Royals just hours after his father Ashley passed away because it’s what his dad would have wanted.
Young Arron, who described Ashley as “my manager, my mentor, my idol, and my best friend” then scored in the North Lancashire and District Football League match with Millhead.
An onlooker said the goal was “a cracking header which his dad would have been proud of”.
Ashley Cross, assistant manager of local league team the Royals, passed away at 11.30am on Saturday aged 46.
Arron then posted on Facebook: “As some of you were aware, my dad was admitted into hospital about a month ago now.
“Unfortunately, my dad’s condition never improved and he peacefully passed away in his sleep, this morning. He was my manager, my mentor, my idol and my best friend. I cherish everything you ever taught me, from football to life skills; and I promise I’ll make you the proudest man alive. RIP Dad, I love you.”
Ashley, who lived in Heysham and was a manager for Royal Mail, was himself a former footballer who played for Lancaster City in the late 80s and early 90s.
A Nottingham Forest fan, he also played in the North Lancs league for Morecambe Royals and Marsh, and was in the Royals team who won the challenge cup in 1998/99 and league and cup double in 1999/2000.
He also coached Bare Rangers for many years and coached Arron from the age of five.
Paul Williams, manager and secretary of Morecambe Royals, said: “He was a dedicated man who gave his all to Morecambe Royals.
“He really did live for football, it was his life. He was a very passionate person with a massive drive to teach and educate young footballers with sound advice.
“Ashley was a very tenacious and tough footballer who gave 100% to his best ability.”
Paul spoke to Arron before the game and said Ashley’s son was determined to play in memory of his father.
“I phoned Arron on Saturday morning and I said to him it’s in your hands, do you want to play today?
“He was adamant his dad would have wanted him to play.
“The goal was a fitting tribute to his father.”
Ashley was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but moved to the Lancaster district at a young age.
He worked as a night shift manager for Royal Mail for around 20 years and was most recently collection manager at Lancaster.
Ashley had two children, Arron and Amy. He was divorced from his wife Joanne but they remained friends.
His daughter Amy wrote on Facebook: “There are no words to describe how I feel, except that I have lost the most loving, caring, thoughtful and inspiring dad after only a short battle with liver failure.
“Not just a dad but a best friend and a true hero. I hope I make you as proud as you’ve made me the past five weeks dad. I would do anything just to hear your voice one last time.
“I love you more and more each day x.”
A minute’s silence was held in memory of Ashley before the start of the Millhead v Morecambe Royals game on Saturday.
No funeral details have yet been released.