ONE of the most pivotal servants at one of the district’s premier sports clubs has died following a period of deteriorating health.

Mike Coulson, a past president and long serving committee member at Corbridge-based Tynedale Rugby Club, died on Tuesday morning at the age of 81.

Mike was well-known around the club and was said to know everybody and everything about the club.

A retired teacher, he became an invaluable and very active member of the club after hanging up his boots as a senior referee.

During his time officiating games, he was well-known and respected by rugby clubs throughout the north of England.

At Tynedale, Mike carried out numerous voluntary roles over the years and this, said a club spokesman, epitomised the type of person that was needed for a club to run smoothly.

Among his many roles, Mike coached in the club’s mini/junior section and, for 11 years prior to the first XV’s promotion into the National Leagues, ran the touchline at Tynedale matches, both home and away.

He only missed the occasional match when his great love of skiing took priority.

Upon Tynedale’s promotion into the National Leagues, the club’s most successful spell in its history, Mike continued to referee junior and friendly fixtures and acted as the first team’s fourth official at home matches.

He also filled the demanding role of membership secretary and was always around to lend a hand, be it collecting empty glasses or serving behind the bar when things got hectic.

For many seasons Mike travelled around the country on the First XV’s away trips, hardly missing a match.

Along with his wife Joan, he took on the important job of providing sandwiches for all on these away journeys.

For a number of years, the couple also took it upon themselves to provide and launder the ball boy/girl bibs for first XV home matches.

Mike was rewarded for all his club involvement when he was elected club president between 2004 and 2006.

The club spokesman said: “Mike’s time at the club did not always run smoothly for him as he suffered disabling heart and kidney problems, both of which necessitated major surgery.

“Mike, however, appeared to take these health issues in his stride and his infectious smile and energetic lust for life continued unabated until the last few years when, cruelly, he suffered a disabling illness.

“At this difficult time, the club’s thoughts are with Mike, Joan and their family. RIP Mike.”