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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Millom rugby stunned by club chief’s death

CUMBRIA’S rugby league community is in shock following the death of respected Millom RLFC chairman Tony McKnight.

The 59-year-old, who had been associated with the club for more than four decades as a player and administrator, died in hospital yesterday afternoon.

Mr McKnight, of Millom, had battled the digestive disorder Crohn’s disease for a number of years and in late January fell ill with a serious chest infection.

The father-of-two was later admitted to Furness General Hospital in Barrow for treatment, but his health continued to deteriorate and he was placed on life support.

Barrow and District Rugby League public relations officer Jeff Coward had known Mr McKnight for years and said he was deeply saddened at the passing of his friend.

He described Mr McKnight as an unsung hero of rugby league in Cumbria and a true stalwart of his beloved Millom RLFC.

“I’ve known Tony for a long time and I can’t speak highly enough of him – he was a cracking lad,” he said.

“When we used to have our county meetings in Millom he would always be there to open up, make a brew and do a lot of things that people never saw.”

In addition to working at Sellafield and responsibilities as club chairman, this season Mr McKnight had started as assistant manager of the Cumbria county under-19s team.

Anthony Murray, from Wigan, in his third season as player coach for the Woollybacks, said last night he was shocked to learn of Mr McKnight’s death.

The 35-year-old said he could not speak highly enough of Mr McKnight as both a person and ambassador for the proud club.

“I found him a gentleman and a proper family man,” he said.

“His passion for the club really came to light for me when the Rugby League Challenge Cup came to Millom (in January).

“He was down there with the trophy having some pictures taken with his grandchildren and things like that.

“It was a really proud moment for Tony for the cup to come to his club and for the draw to be done in Millom.”

Mr McKnight death’s is a sad loss to the proud club during what should have been a year of celebrations.

Millom RLFC was founded in 1873, making it the oldest amateur rugby league club in the world, and a number of events are planned to commemorate its 140th anniversary.

Club secretary Dave Warren described his friend and colleague as a “genuine, all-round good person”.

“He was a very good friend and I’ve known him for a lot of years and worked very, very closely with him for a lot of years,” he said.

“He will be sadly missed.”

The Evening Mail’s amateur rugby league correspondent Paddy McAteer said nothing was ever too much trouble for Mr McKnight.

“Tony McKnight was a stalwart of Millom RLFC,” he said.

“He will be sorely missed, not only for the good work he did at the club but also the work for Cumbria County Amateur Rugby League.”

Have your say

Life can be so unfair, thoughts with the family x

Posted by Alan Moses on 31 March 2013 at 08:58

Tony you were an absolute gentlemen you always made me welcome when i worked there you will be truly missed by a lot of people. I will miss our Wigan cracks when we met.

Posted by unknown on 28 March 2013 at 21:09

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