HE was a popular sportsman who represented Stamfordham at both football and cricket.

Now tributes have been paid to John Urwin, who lost his three-month battle against cancer on November 8, just weeks short of his 65th birthday.

Originally from Heddon-on-the-Wall, John spent his working life as a woodman at Cheeseburn Grange, Stamfordham.

He began playing senior football for Newburn and Heddon Institute.

He later became a key member of the successful Stamfordham Swinburne Arms team in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as a goalscoring centre forward.

The father-of-three was also a talented cricketer, and represented Corbridge initially as an opening bowler, before developing into a steady opening batsman.

Later in his cricketing career, John played for Stamfordham, where he opened the batting and occasionally served as wicketkeeper.

The avid sportsman was also a very keen golfer, and became a member at Matfen Hall Golf Club, where he was a popular figure.

Long-term friend and golfing partner Ian Harkness said: “John loved the social side of his sport but was always a tough competitor on the field of play.

“A lot of people will remember the goals he scored and the contribution he made to that Stamfordham football team.

“He was a very versatile cricketer and there is no doubt that John made his impression on the local sporting scene.

“I knew John for about 40 years. He was a real nice bloke, and very much a family man.

“He had been settled in his job as a woodman at Cheeseburn, where he lived, and he was due to retire.

“It’s devastating that we’ve lost John at a time when he should have been looking forward to retirement, and no doubt playing plenty of golf.

“Everyone at Matfen Hall and elsewhere will miss him greatly, and our thoughts are very much with the family.”

John was married to wife Trish for many years, and had three sons, Jamie, Robert, and William.

The latter is a golf professional, who has worked at clubs including Matfen Hall, and Celtic Manor in Wales.

John’s family and friends will gather for a service at Newcastle West Road Crematorium tomorrow, at 11.15am.