The footballing community in Sussex has united in grief to pay tribute to Peter Bentley, who passed away in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Peter Bentley devoted his life to football in Sussex – indeed, as one Sussex County Football League (SCFL) colleague yesterday observed: Sussex football was his whole life.
Until standing down at the end of last season, Mr Bentley had been SCFL Chairman since 1976, its Treasurer since 1985 and its Fixtures Secretary since 2011. He was also a Life Member of the Sussex County League and was Chairman of the Sussex County FA.
The SCFL website posted the sad news alongside a tribute, saying: “It is with great sadness we write to inform you that Peter Bentley, President of the Sussex County Football League, passed away peacefully in the early hours this morning (7/11/13).
“I’m sure you will join the league in sending out thoughts and best wishes to Margaret and all of his family at this sad time. Once details of the funeral are received, we will advise you. Black armbands will be worn and a minute’s silence will be observed prior to matches kicking off.”
Tributes poured in almost immediately on Twitter.
Lewes boss Garry Wilson wrote: “Very sad news about Peter Bentley today a true non league football man, RIP.”
Newhaven FC added: “Newhaven FC would like to send its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Peter Bentley, who sadly passed away this morning.”
“Peter was Chairman of the Sussex County FA and had dedicated decades of his life to Sussex football. Rest in peace.”
Peacehaven FC posted: “Peacehaven & Telscombe FC send their condolences to Peter Bentley’s family, he was a great ambassador of Sussex football for decades.”
Mr Bentley’s ex-SCFL colleague, Alan Donald, said: “Just received the very sad news that Peter Bentley passed away, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family – Peter you were a true gent.
Eastbourne United AFC added: “EUAFC would like to send their deepest condolences to the family of Peter Bentley, a man who gave everything for Sussex football.”
East Grinstead Town FC wrote: “Very sad day for County League football as we mourn the passing of Peter Bentley, who did so much for league in nearly 50 years service.”
Mike Legg wrote: “Condolences to Peter Bentley’s family. Doyen of Sussex football and doubt anyone will ever match his devotion to the county game.”
Tom Betts said: “RIP to @SussexCountyFA chairman, Peter Bentley. Great guy and enjoyed speaking to him after every Sussex game I was lucky to play in.”
Anthony Scott, SCFL’s press officer, said: “Sussex football will never be the same, Peter Bentley has done so much, and his work will never be forgotten. A sad day for Sussex football. He gave football everything he had. Things will never be the same. He was an inspiration. Peter, you will never be forgotten.”
His colleague at the SCFL, Karen Scott, summed things up: “Sussex football was his life. He will be sadly missed.”