TRIBUTES have been paid to former Harrogate Town and Harrogate Railway captain Lee Dutton, who died last week at his home in Halifax.
Lee, 38, was well-known in local sporting circles and had a long, successful career at non league level.
His journey started in the early 80s as a schoolboy at Manchester United.
He moved to Rochdale as a trainee before travelling across the Pennines for spells at Halifax Town and Hatfield Main.
In January 1992, Lee joined Harrogate Town under manager Alan Smith. He was one of the club’s youngest ever captains, making 165 appearances and scoring five goals.
During the 1998/99 season he made the switch to Harrogate Railway where he was also made captain by boss Dave Fell and number two Rob Hunter.
Lee became an instant hit at Station View and led the side to the Northern Counties East Division One championship that same season. He also had a spell at Farsley Celtic.
Hunter remembered him as an exceptionally strong centre back, who will be sadly missed.
“It’s an absolute travesty,” he said.
“Lee was a lovely lad and was great to have in the changing room with the banter. I’ve kept in touch with him through football over the last ten years or so and he was the same each time, it’s such a shock.
“When we brought him to Rail’ there wasn’t any money. But the fact Lee played the entire season without missing a game shows you the type of person he was because he could have played at a higher level.”
Former Town boss Smith, added: “He was just a nice lad, good club man and a credit to Harrogate Town and Harrogate Railway.”
One of Lee’s former teammates was Steve Davey.
Davey, now coach at Harrogate Railway, said the news was a deep shock to him.
“He was an unbelievable player,” he said.
“Lee was good in the air, good with his feet but his best quality was his leadership skills. When the team was down Dutts was the one who got us up, I’ll never forget that.
“That championship winning side, there were some quality players.
“If you look back at the team we had players like Colin Darville and then youngsters coming through. It was an odd bunch of players, some quiet ones, some crazy ones, some who didn’t shut up and Dutts had to captain us all.”
If tomorrow’s fixture between Railway and Farsley gets the go-ahead a minute silence is expected as Lee played for both teams during his career.
Harrogate Town also plan a minute silence at their next home fixture.