TRIBUTES have been paid to former Newport County director, programme editor, radio presenter and super fan Ray Taylor.

Born and bred in the city and a lifelong football fanatic, Mr Taylor died yesterday morning after a long battle with illness aged 61.

Survived by wife Gail and the Taylor family – with his father and brother particularly well known among the Amber Army at Spytty Park, he was a helpful and interesting character who, by his own admission, was completely besotted with Newport County.

In addition to his many roles at the club, he also frequently submitted match reports for the South Wales Argus and other publications.

His lifelong commitment and support of the club made him a familiar face on the terraces and his recent work on County’s I-Radio station also made him the unofficial voice of the Exiles.

Leading the tributes was Councillor David Hando, president of Newport County AFC.

“Ray was the very essence of support for Newport County,” he explained.

“He was exceptionally knowledgeable and when the club went under was serving as a director with a very difficult task.

“There was a lot of ill-feeling towards the club because of outstanding debts and in the role as community director he did a lot of great work re-establishing links with local schools and clubs.

“Ray has probably visited more football grounds than the rest of us put together and in recent times I don’t think it’s wrong to describe him as the voice of the club.

“He was also a wonderful programme editor, winning awards for his efforts and setting a benchmark that the current team are following.”

Chairman Chris Blight added: “Ray was a totally unique character and one everyone at the club will miss hugely.

“He has been part of everything for a number of years and never asked for anything in return.

“His presence has been sadly miss since the start of his illness and he’s an irreplaceable character at the County.

“Our thoughts are with Gail and the family at this sad time.”

Argus football writer Michael Pearlman said: “One of the most essential aspects of covering Newport County over the past eight years has been regular contact with Ray Taylor.

“If a fact or a statistic needed checking, Ray was the man to speak too and I have spent more hours than I could count travelling to games or discussing them with Ray who would happily argue with you until he was blue in the face!

“If I wrote something he liked or disliked he’d be very quick to let me know and both as a journalist and a friend, I will miss Ray’s passion and enthusiasm for Newport County enormously.

“His love for football was absolutely infectious.”

The Exiles have confirmed they are planning to honour Mr Taylor at Saturday’s home clash with Fleetwood Town.