TRIBUTES have been paid to the president of West Hartlepool Rugby Club who suddenly died after watching his beloved club.
Respected Reg Turner collapsed in the car park at the club’s Brinkburn base just moments after the final whistle on Saturday afternoon.
Players and paramedics battled to save his life but he died shortly afterwards.
Reg, 81, had enjoyed watching a close fought victory over visitors Chester from his usual seat in the stand.
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He was on his way to the club house for his usual post-match pint when he collapsed.
The club and internet message boards have been inundated with tributes praising Reg’s contribution to sport in the town.
Teams around town held a minute’s silence before their matches yesterday morning.
Les Smith, chairman of rugby at West Hartlepool, said: “The club is absolutely devastated at his loss.
“He was extremely respected in rugby circles and was a leading sportsman of his time.
“Reg didn’t just watch the first team, he was a regular figure on a Sunday morning and watched the junior teams.
“He sat in his normal chair and watched an exciting game which West won.
“On his way back to the club house for a drink he collapsed in the car park beside the visiting coach.
“Their players and physio were the first people to his aid.
“Paramedics were here very quickly and did everything they could, but they just couldn’t save him.”
Reg, of Bishop Cuthbert, Hartlepool, even introduced rugby to Houston in America when he worked in the States as an electrical engineer in the eighties.
He formed and coached the Texas State Rugby team.
On returning to Hartlepool in 2002, he immediately took up the role of President with West Hartlepool who he had previously played for.
He also played for Hartlepool Cricket Club and was a regular supporter at their Park Drive ground.
A club spokesman for described him as: “One of life’s true gentlemen who will be sadly missed by his family and many friends from around the sporting world.”
Reg leaves behind wife Joyce, children Stephen and Susan and seven grandchildren.