ASKAM lost one of its best-known and loved gentlemen following the sudden death of former Barrow player John ‘Chipper’ New aged 71, writes Paddy McAteer.

Likeable and a friend to so many, John loved to talk rugby whether at Fallowfield Park, Devonshire Road in Millom – a place he had so many Woolyback mates – or Craven Park .

He rarely missed a Raiders home game and was a stalwart of the club from 1969 to 1976.

In eight seasons he played at first team level on 72 occasions crossing for five tries and kicking 10 goals. John was one of four rugby playing brothers who played for Askam along with Dave, Paul and Derrick. He also leaves two sisters, Helen and Lorraine.

‘Chipper’ signed for Barrow from Dalton on August 11 1969 and made his debut away to Whitehaven five days later. His last appearance was at Leeds in 1976.

He trialed at Barrow in 1967, but it took two years before he signed professional forms and though his spell was long-term he played mostly for the A team, for whom he scored over 400 points.

Many observers of Barrow A in the ‘70s reckoned John was worthy of more than the 72 appearances he made.

Following his retirement from the professional game, John returned to Dalton, but when the A team were short in numbers he would help out. His best senior season was 1970/71 when he played 23 times, scoring two tries and kicking one goal.

He was a solid second row who could also slot in at prop and would not let the team down. ‘Chipper’ played alongside some class players including former England rugby union fly-half Tom Brophy and Welsh golden boy Keith Jarrett, along with Welsh rugby league prop Mick Murphy.

Neighbour and close friend for over 50 years Chris Carter said: “Chipper was a good guy who not only loved his rugby but also his pigeons, which he was heavily involved with.

“He once broke his ankle while at Barrow and at the time we worked at K Shoes. If you didn't work you got no pay so we sorted him out with a makeshift chair as most of your work was with your feet.

“We spent many a happy holiday together with our families and only this season back at Askam he asked me if I would help him to man the gate. He was there only last Saturday and was in good form. He was also a good cricketer, playing for Askam.”

Speaking from Texas, Barrow & District League PRO Jeff Coward said: “When I got news you could have knocked me down with a feather. John was great lad who loved the craic – he will be missed around the Village.

“I played alongside him at Dalton, a good player he was. Also a good cricketer we often had a chat about who was the first to score a century at the K Shoes ground – it was Chipper.”

Millom stalwart Gary Kelly added: “John was a lovely bloke who I always looked for when playing at Askam. It’s a sad day.”