Blackpool's oldest living player Cyril Lawrence, 99, died after testing positive for coronavirus in care home

Lawrence would have celebrated his 100th birthday in JuneLawrence would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June
Lawrence would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June | jpimedia
Blackpool’s oldest surviving player Cyril Lawrence passed away at the age of 99 from the coronavirus, his family has revealed.
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Blackpool's oldest surviving player Cyril Lawrence passes away just two months s...

The former Seasider tested positive with COVID-19 when he was taken into a care home after his wife Clara, also 99, was taken ill after suffering a fall.

According to his daughter, Lawrence was fit and strong before suddenly falling ill at a private care home in Bolton on Good Friday - eight weeks before his 100th birthday.

He tragically passed away on Tuesday.

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His daughter Elaine told the Daily Mail: “It all happened so fast - he was fine on Friday and had a good evening meal, even asking for an extra helping.

“But by 8pm the staff were concerned and a doctor was called because they thought he had a chest infection. At that time we didn't know it was coronavirus.

“He was only in the care home for respite while mum was in hospital; if he hadn't been there he may not have caught this dreadful disease.”

She added: “To be cruelly taken like this is just so, so very sad as they were both in good shape for their ages.

“Mum isn't doing very well, it is such a shock for her.”

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As he continued to deteriorate, the family said their goodbyes via a video call on Sunday.

“We told him how much we all loved him - he was a hero to my son and to all of us,” Elaine added.

“His eyes were closed but they said he could hear us.

“It was the most dreadful and heartbreaking thing I've ever had to do.”

Elaine and her sister Norma are arranging their father's funeral but fear they won't get proper closure because of the restrictions around services which limit just 10 mourners to attend.

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Lawrence, who was due to celebrate his 100th birthday in June, was one of Blackpool’s rising stars prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.

At 19, he was close to making a breakthrough on the Fylde coast as part of a Blackpool squad that also included Stan Mortensen.

Blackpool topped the old First Division at the time, winning their opening three games of the season under manager Joe Smith.

Lawrence’s progress as a footballer was halted when he lied about his age to register for national service before conscription was introduced.

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As he completed his military training with the Royal Navy he was able to represent Blackpool in a wartime fixture against Bolton Wanderers in December 1939 and returned for another game, while on leave, against Stockport County in September 1943.

Having spent five years on the battleship HMS King George V, Lawrence re-signed for Blackpool in 1946 on a deal worth £5 a week with a £3 bonus when he made the first team.

The winger, born in Salford, left in 1947 to join Rochdale before going on to feature for Wrexham.

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