Today’s match ball sponsorship comes from the family of the late Phil Johnson.

Phil was the club’s loyal Press Officer during the Dabbers’ rise from the depths of the NW Counties League to the cusp of the Conference North.

Previously Non-League correspondent for BBC Radio Stoke, Phil’s gravelly tones were a perfect pitch for the football airwaves but when he hung up his mic, he brought his love for the game to Jackson Avenue. With typical enthusiasm, he took up the new role of Press Officer – perfect timing as his professionalism and passion was used to great effect as the Dabbers came under the national spotlight in lifting the FA Vase in 2006. Phil’s warm humour would always light up a cold afternoon at a North West Counties League outpost and the words he crafted never failed to do justice to the players or the occasion. Never any need for spin – just true authenticity.

It was a real privilege to have Phil around the club,” recalls former Secretary Bernard Lycett. “He knew the game inside out and you couldn’t have hoped to meet a nicer guy – a true friend.”

Those who met Phil could not fail to be impressed by his shrewd knowledge or touched by his kindly manner and integrity.

Six of Phil’s family members will be in attendance this afternoon and there will be a pre-match presentation where his family present the match ball to officials.

Once a Dabber, Always a dabber