Walwyn a sad loss to the seasiders

ASK anyone what they thought about former Seasiders star Keith Walwyn and the answer is invariably the same: "Great bloke, wouldn't harm anyone".

And tributes continued to flood in today for the popular striker and dad of two, who died aged 47 on Tuesday night following surgery.

Blackpool FC goalkeeping coach Barry Siddall first met Walwyn when the pair played for Pool in 1986. They both went on to join Carlisle.

"We used to travel up in the car together from Blackpool to Carlisle every day for training," recalled Siddall.

Humour

"He was a great lad, very quiet and never once, on any of those journeys, did he have anything bad to say about anyone. He was a family man, who preferred going out with his wife after a match rather than the lads, and he had a very dry sense of humour.

"I got on very well with him and we had some good times together."

Siddall, who works for the Post Office in the Kirkham area, saw Walwyn just a couple of weeks ago.

"I was driving past the sports shop he owned in Kirkham and he looked in good health," added Siddall.

"I knew he'd had some problems towards the end of his career in non-League but I thought they were behind him.

"He used to coach the kids at Kirkham Carr Hill School and I'd seen him coming off the pitch a few times with the youngsters.

"I never thought there was anything wrong health wise and it was a huge shock when I heard that he had died."

Walwyn, of Conningham Way, Kirkham, who leaves a wife Liz and two young sons, James and Matthew, scored 16 goals during his two years at Pool in the mid-80s. He was caretaker at Carr Hill School.

Among those mourning him are The Mariners football club, who play in the Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance.

Walywn was, in fact, registered with the North Shore pub team as a player – as had been Manchester City's ex-Liverpool and Leeds star Robbie Fowler. Neither, though, was ever likely to play!

"It was a spoof signing, just like Robbie when he was invited to a karaoke night a few years ago and the lads persuaded him to put his name on a form," said Mariners manager Mark Griffiths.

"Three or four of our current players have followed Blackpool from when Keith played and to them he was a cult hero.

"They got him to present the trophies when they were with Clifton Rangers and kept in touch."

Griffiths added: "We feel so sorry for the family. As a player Keith did the business for Blackpool – a wholehearted centre-forward who gave 100 per cent."

Walwyn was a legend at York City, where he smashed 119 goals in 245 appearances, and was also a popular figure at Carlisle where he ended his League career. Going on to play non-League soccer, he quit in 1991 after collapsing while turning out for Kettering,

He underwent surgery and had a pacemaker fitted and his health was thought to have improved in recent years.

Strong

Blackpool's Reserve team coach Mike Davies, who played with Walwyn, said: "It is very sad. He was a great big, strong man and you don't think of someone like that dying so young.

"Last time I saw him at one of the Blackpool games we had a bit of a chat and he seemed fine.

"He was a tough competitor on the pitch. He was a big, strong, aggressive player. No centre half look forward to playing against Keith. I remember Colin Methven saying he used to go in the gym for two weeks when he was playing against Keith!

"Off the pitch he was a quiet family man. It is a sad loss, and my thoughts are with his family."

n GIVE us your memories of Keith Walwyn. Telephone Tangerine Talkback on 01253 361777 or e-mail us at: tango@blackpoolgazette.co.uk or text by typing jp pool blac, followed by your message, then send to: 82222.

Alternatively, write to Sports Desk, The Gazette, Avroe House, Avroe Crescent, Blackpool Business Park, Blackpool, FY4 2DP.