TRIBUTES have been paid to one of South Tyneside’s most popular sportsmen following his death at the age of 85.
John Burn has been described as one of the best goalkeepers ever to play for South Shields Football Club, and he also served Marsden Cricket Club with distinction for over 50 years.
Mr Burn, of South Shields, died in hospital on Saturday, 10 days after his 85th birthday.
He is survived by his wife Margaret, 82, of Imeary Street, South Shields, sons Raymond, 56, and Graeme, 53, and daughters Margaret, 54, and Denise, 51.
He also had six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mr Burn and his wife recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary.
He first played for South Shields Ex-Schoolboys FC between 1945 and 1948, before going on to join Chelsea, Chesterfield, Carlisle United and South Shields.
He ended his football career with the Mariners, spending six years at the club between 1956 and 1962.
Mr Burn then concentrated more on cricket and is believed to have spent over 50 years at Marsden Cricket Club in numerous roles, including player, treasurer, vice-chairman and life member.
His son Raymond said: “My dad’s proudest moments were with South Shields FC.
“He even played football on his wedding day. He got married at 9.30am, had a wedding breakfast and then went to Simonside Hall and played for South Shields against Sunderland reserves.
“He was a very modest man, and we only really found out about his football exploits within the last six months or so. He rarely mentioned his football to us.
“He had always played cricket, and he got involved with Marsden Cricket Club, which was his life for the next 50 years. He was a cricket umpire as well.”
During Mr Burn’s football days at South Shields, the Mariners were among the biggest non-league clubs in the North East, with one of their games attracting a gate of 20,000.
He played in some of the club’s biggest matches of the era, including a famous 5-0 FA Cup victory over Crewe Alexandra in 1958 and a 2-1 FA Cup win against Chesterfield a year later.
Long-time Shields supporter Bob Wray, still a member of the club’s committee, said: “John was an outstanding goalkeeper, who I had the pleasure of watching on many occasions during the club’s time at Simonside Hall.
“He is very well remembered, and I was saddened to hear the news of his death.
“He is without a doubt one of the finest players to have played for South Shields.
“John played for Shields when they were one of the best non-league clubs in the country, and he was a great favourite for the six years he was there.
“I’m sure people will remember him with great affection.”
A Marsden Cricket Club spokesman said: “John was an integral part of the club for a long, long time.
“He was a huge part of the survival and progression of the club, and he was also a very committed cricketer during his playing days.
“He captained the first team and was a role model to a lot of the younger players who played for the club in his era.
“Later, he went onto the committee, and his contribution to the club was immense.
“He was also a total gentleman, and everyone in the club looked up to him. You couldn’t meet a nicer man.”