CRICKET clubs in Leeds and Wakefield have paid tribute to “gentle giant” all-rounder Simon Stirling after he lost his cancer battle aged 51.
Mr Stirling, of Stanley, Wakefield, was a talented Central Yorkshire League cricketer who played for clubs including Carlton near Rothwell, East Ardsley and Wakefield St Michael’s.
He was diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary in February this year and told he was terminally ill in September.
Mr Stirling died at Pontefract’s Prince of Wales Hospice last Wednesday.
originally from Palmerston North, New Zealand, Mr Stirling was a popular player at a number of West Yorkshire clubs.
He also played more than 40 games for the Manawatu Cricket Association’s (MCA) senior representative team in New Zealand.
Richard Walker, Mr Stirling’s friend of 15 years and first team manager at Carlton Cricket Club, said: “He was quiet but witty and a very good cricketer. He will be missed by a lot of people.”
Mr Stirling’s widow Carol, 55, said: “He told me every day how much he loved me. We were really close. He was just my gentle giant.”
She added: “It’s unbelievable the amount of support I’ve had from his friends. And everyone at the Prince of Wales Hospice was wonderful. They didn’t just look after Simon, they looked after his family and friends as well.”
Mr Stirling was stepfather to Paul Dean, 34, and the late Craig Dean, who died in 2007 aged 23 in a road traffic accident.
Lawrence Walker, of Rawdon Cricket Club where Mr Stirling played in 1989, said in a statement on the club’s website: “He was a very talented cricketer who had the ability to win a game single-handed with either bat or ball.
“He was very sociable and was a hugely popular off the field with club members because of the way he played the game and the way he enjoyed himself and always had that big infectious smile on his face.” The Central Yorkshire League’s website states: “An excellent cricketer and a fantastic man, the Central Yorkshire League has lost one of its most respected players.”
Mr Stirling’s funeral will be held from 10.30am on Tuesday December 30 at Stanley Methodist Chapel, Lee Mount Road, Stanley, Wakefield.
The funeral will be followed by a wake at the Travellers Inn on Lake Lock Road, Stanley.