A MAN highly regarded in local sport has died following a short illness.

John Oliver (77) was still heavily involved with Hexham and District Sunday League and Prudhoe and District Darts League up until his 70th birthday.

The Prudhoe resident’s involvement in local sport stretched back well over 30 years, and he was highly regarded among players and fellow committee members.

A good footballer himself, Mr Oliver was on the books of Newcastle United when he was aged just 15.

As well as serving as manager and secretary of Prudhoe Hospital and Prudhoe Social Club, Mr Oliver was secretary and treasurer of Hexham’s Sunday League.

Current chairman Colin Smith said Mr Oliver was a caring and helpful member of the league committee, who was also very efficient in the roles he carried out.

He said: “I remember when he told me the league needed a referee representative, and he asked me if I would do it. A few years later, the league needed a chairman and again he asked if I could do it – he was very persuasive.”

“What I admired most about him was that, if you brought your team to our league, he would help you out as much as possible. He cared about the teams, but that’s not to say he was a pushover.

“Even when we were short of referees, he used to help out even though he wasn’t a ref and he was still doing that into his 60s.”

Mr Oliver was involved in all sports across Tynedale, and played a major role in the running of the darts league in Prudhoe.

It was through his involvement in which he met Anne, who played for one of the teams, 16 years ago. They went on to marry at the Queen’s Hall in Hexham five years ago.

During his career, he worked as a manager at the Co-op, and as an auxilliary nurse at Prudhoe Hospital and a steward at the Prudhoe Hospital Club before it closed.

Mrs Oliver said: “Everybody loved him and nobody would ever have a bad word to say about him.

“He loved his football and helping the league out and reffing, and keeping them right.”

Mr Oliver’s funeral is due to take place tomorrow, with a restricted number of attendees due to coronavirus asked to wear black and white, the colours of his beloved Newcastle United.