WARM tributes have been paid to a well-respected Hartlepool sports stalwart who died suddenly.
Sports-mad Albert Kelleher dedicated most of his spare time to sport, particularly his love of football, cricket and boxing.
He died in hospital on Saturday aged 82 after succumbing suddenly to a chest infection.
Daughter Sue Hay, 55, said: “Dad was well known in town for his sport, he always loved it.
“He was a larger than life character and will be missed greatly by a lot of people.”
Keen sportsman Albert was a talented footballer playing for St Joseph’s in Hartlepool in the 1950s, before his talent was spotted and he became Hartlepool United’s reserve keeper.
Albert was involved with Pools for many years as match day announcer and helped train promising youngsters through the club’s youth set up.
He also enjoyed many years behind the stumps playing cricket for Hartlepool Cricket Club and Blackhall.
He even fought his way to the verge of county selection for Durham as a wicket keeper-batsman.
After his playing career ended, Albert could still often be found surrounded by pals at the Park Drive club house entertaining everyone with his legendary quick wit.
A self-confessed “boxing nut” Albert also served as leading timekeeper for the British Boxing Board.
He oversaw hundreds of bouts including the 1996 world title fight between Nigel Benn and Sugar Boy Malinga.
In an article in the Mail, Albert simply said: “I love my sport. I’m always watching something.”
Born in Adelaide Street, West Hartlepool, in March 1930, Albert left school at 14 to take up an apprenticeship as a welder with the William Gray shipyard.
He later worked at Heerema and Hartlepool Erection Company until his retirement in 1992.
Albert met his wife Gladys, 81, when he was 18 and the couple married seven years later at St Thomas More Church in Hartlepool.
They enjoyed 57 years together and had one daughter Sue, and later grandchildren Anthony, 32, and Natalie, 31, followed.
Albert, of the Hart Lane area of town, was delighted later by the arrival of four great-grandchildren.
Sue added: “He idolised his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“It didn’t matter which one came he used to always say ‘here’s my favourite’.”
Albert’s funeral will be held at 11.15am on Monday, at St Joseph’s Church, St Paul’s Road, Hartlepool. All friends are welcome.
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