Sunderland rugby players will form guard of honour in memory of teacher John

John Drummond in action for Sunderland Rugby.
John Drummond in action for Sunderland Rugby.
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The mother of a Sunderland Rugby player who died in his sleep has paid tribute to one of his closest friends who passed away just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

Jamie Maclennan was found at home in December 2014. His Sunderland team-mate John Drummond died last weekend.

Karen MacLennan

Karen MacLennan

The 33-year-old Oxclose Community Academy design technology teacher married long-term partner Amy shortly before his death.

Jamie’s mum Karen said: “Our hearts go out to Amy, John’s parents, brother Allan and to Amy’s family.

“When I found out John had cancer it was a huge shock and then, three weeks ago, being told it was terminal has been devastating and brought back how we felt when Jamie died.”

The team dedicated its ‘Player’s Player’ award to Jamie after his death and John was the first recipient of the ‘Jamie Maclennan’ trophy: “It was no surprise ‘Jeano’ won at the end of that season,” said Karen, a fund-raiser at Grace House.

From the tributes we have seen he will be so sadly missed - his smile, presence, generosity, kindness, love, compassion and patience are just some of the qualities ‘Jeano’ will be remembered for.

Karen Maclennan

“He was unanimously chosen by all of the players.

“I also knew John the teacher and fund-raiser, as he took part in the Great North Run for Grace House, which Jamie supported. I also met John on a few occasions when I visited Oxclose Community Academy as the school supported Grace House and that was where John taught.

“John was a prominent player at Sunderland Rugby and trained with our younger son Aidan who is eighteen. From the tributes we have seen he will be so sadly missed - his smile, presence, generosity, kindness, love, compassion and patience are just some of the qualities ‘Jeano’ will be remembered for.”

Players from the club will form a guard of honour at Sunderland Crematorium at 10.30am on Tuesday.

Jamie Maclennan

Jamie Maclennan

Club chairman Paul Geehan paid tribute to a man he described as ‘unique.’

“John signed in 2005. He was a university student - his dad went to the same university when it was a poly and did basically the same course that John did,” he said.

“John played for Kirkby Stephen over in Cumbria but with all the travel, it was easier to come to the club. His friends all played here, so he joined us too.

“He started off in the second team and played in the development squad for under 21s, then he went from there to the first team.

“I described him as unique. He was popular amongst everybody. He used to help out with the junior side and worked with the under 15, 16s and 17s.”

John was no stranger to the trainer’s magic sponge: “He used to get injured quite easily and we would have to patch him up or take him to the hospital,” said Paul.

“He will be sadly missed. He had his own little song that he uses to sing, which can’t be repeated - but that was him.

“To get the news we got some weeks ago was unbelievable, but to the end, he was a fighter. He was a gentleman on and off the field.

“It has had a real impact. It has really shocked us.

“The rugby club is a massive family and we have done what every other family would do, and that is to look after each other.”