Tributes are pouring in following the sudden death of popular local football figure Kevin Stonehouse.
The former Darlington player, who lived in Newton Aycliffe, passed away suddenly on Sunday, aged just 59.
Stonehouse was well-known and respected not only to Quakers fans as a player in the 1980s, but also in his Football in the Community role for many years, coaching thousands of local children.
His son Ryan said on Facebook: “Worst day of our lives. Sadly our dad Kevin Stonehouse, father, husband, grandad, top man and overall legend passed away today at 15:08.
“He was doing something he loved ⚽. We’d like to thank the paramedics and hospital staff and everyone else involved in trying to save our dad.
“Our family is deeply in shock and absolutely devastated by what has happened please have respect for our family.”
Several people have also posted tributes on social media.
His former team-mate and close friend Kevan Smith said: “It’s a very, very sad and tragic day for me and many more who admired, loved and were proud to say ‘Stoney’ Kevin Stonehouse was their friend!
“I can’t really put into words my feelings and there certainly isn’t enough words to describe a truly good human being such as he was.
“RIP Kevin. You will be missed by many.”
Stonehouse, from Shildon, played as forward during a career that saw him begin at Blackburn Rovers at the beginning of the 1980s.
Most recently he was doing scouting work for Newcastle United.
A Newcastle statement read: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of club scout Kevin Stonehouse today. Our thoughts are with Kevin’s loved ones and his many friends across the club and football community.”
Blackburn Tweeted: “Rovers are saddened to learn of the passing of former player Kevin Stonehouse. Stonehouse spent four years at Ewood Park (1979-1983), making 91 appearances and scoring 29 goals. Our thoughts are with Kevin’s family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”
After Blackburn he spent time with Huddersfield Town and Blackpool before returning to the North-East with a transfer to Darlington in 1987, when Dave Booth was manager.
He played wide left in two years at Feethams and among his team-mates were David Currie, Paul Ward Alan Roberts, making 87 appearances and scoring 24 goals.
He was the team’s second highest league scorer with 13 in 87-88, behind Currie on 21, when Darlington finished 13th in Division 4.
After leaving in ’89 he later played for both Bishop Auckland and Shildon.