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Tributes for former Black Cats striker

TRIBUTES were paid today to a former Black Cats' striker who has died at the age of 77.

Harry Kirtley made 101 appearances for Sunderland between 1948 and 1955, scoring 18 goals in 95 league games.

An inside forward, he was born in Washington, but settled in Rhyl, North Wales, when he played for them in the 1960s.

Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn said: "It's always very sad when we lose a member of our Sunderland family.

"Harry was a local lad, playing for his home town club and his loss will be felt by everyone at the football club."

Born in 1930, Harry left school when he was 14 and he went to work in the pits as an apprentice colliery electrician.

He started his footballing career playing for Fatfield Juniors before being spotted by a Sunderland scout.

A critic in 1951 said: "Despite Sunderland's expensive forward purchases a place at inside forward must be found for Harry."

The Sunderland AFC footballing bible, All the Lads, says: "It was certainly true his alertness, speed in thought and action, and general effectiveness in both inside berths warranted a regular first-team showcase."

After leaving Sunderland, Harry played for Cardiff City for two years before a leg injury forced him to take a part-time role.

In his time in South Wales he scored four goals in 38 league games, then he moved to Gateshead where he scored 14 goals in 96 appearances.

Unusually, both his married daughters, Janice, 48, and Sharon, 44, share the same surname as they tied the knot with two brothers – Janice to Tim Caldecott, 48, and Sharon to Peter Caldecott, 44.

Janice, who lived close to her father, said: "He was a quiet, gentle person who loved his sport. He liked to dabble on the horses, but football was his life.

"He continued playing five-a-side locally until he was in his 60s. He cycled and walked everywhere – he had a car but he loved his cycling and walking.

"When he finished football he worked in a local shop as a cycle repair man. He retired there.

"He was very interested in Rhyl football club after he finished playing there."

Janice added: "He always said he played in the wrong era. Since he passed away we've gone through some of his things.

"We've found contracts and the transfer fees were nothing compared with now. Two thousand pounds and 1,300 ring a bell."

Apart from his two daughters, Harry, who was divorced, leaves four grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at St Ann's Church, Rhyl, at 10.30am on Monday, followed by cremation at Colywyn Bay Crematorium.