Billy Ayre loses cancer battle

Although the current Lancashire rivalry is with Preston as the clubs never seem to be too far apart in league positions it was all so different in the early part of the last decade. Then both Blackpool and ourselves were fighting at the top of the 4th division looking to get win promotion.

We both made the play offs in 1991 but were both beaten by Torquay but the following year Blackpool were successful in the play offs as the Clarets carried off the final 4th Division Championship trophy. He was one of those managers who always attracted the chants of the Burnley fans who christened him Stalin, and the likeness was definitely there.

He had a spell with Cardiff just before moving to Bury where he was assistant manager to Andy Preece but has been suffering for some time with cancer of the lymph nodes. He was expected to return to his duties at Gigg Lane last month but was then taken ill again.

The Bury boss Andy Preece had played for Ayre's Blackpool and said this morning, "Billy was my best friend and he will be very much missed, none more so by me. He taught me a lot and I'm shattered by the news."

Clarets Mad would wish to pass on their condolences to his wife Elaine and children David and Rachel at this very sad time.