ONE of Corbridge’s best known sporting and business personalities, pitman turned milkman John Graham, has died at the age of 81.

A native of Ponteland, John spent his mining career in the North-East, initially at Prestwick Colliery, which was literally at the end of his garden.

He ended his career as a miner at Westoe Colliery in South Shields, where he took early retirement, and had the opportunity to purchase a milk round in Corbridge.

Eventually, he swapped pintas for papers and postal orders, taking over the village paper shop and Post Office.

He was a great supporter of village life in Corbridge, well known for his infectious personality and willingness to help others.

However, he will perhaps be best remembered for his sporting prowess, particularly his 25-year career with Corbridge Cricket Club, where he was a stalwart member from 1971 to 1996.

He captained the club’s 2ndXI during its most successful period in the Northumberland League.

Between 1982 and 1994 his team appeared in nine cup finals, winning five and losing four. In 1991 John captained his team to the League Championship in what was a very strong division.

John was primarily a slow bowler, his cunning off breaks helping him claim 492 wickets for the club.

He was also a more than capable batsman, scoring 2,388 runs, as well as being an exceptional fielder with a very safe pair of hands which earned him 135 catches.

Not only did John serve the club well as a player, he was also the club groundsman for many years.

His sporting activity was not limited to cricket. He also enjoyed darts bowls and golf, and was humbled when appointed captain of Matfen Hall Golf Club following a personal invitation from Sir Hugh Blackett,

John was a lifelong supporter of Newcastle United and took great pleasure in watching games from his privileged position in the directors’ box.

John met his wife Ann Turner at a dance in Whalton village, and they were married in October 1962, enjoying more than 50 years of wedded bliss before Ann sadly died in March 2017. They had daughters, Karen, Fiona and Nicky and four grandchildren in Joseph, Rosie, Charlie and Grace.

John’s funeral took place in Corbridge in Friday.