Former Barnsley footballer dies at age of 60

FORMER Barnsley and Grimsby favourite Paul Futcher has died at the age of 60.

Paul Futcher

The defender, who had cancer, enjoyed a long career that started with his hometown club Chester in 1972 and saw him finally retire in 2000 aged 44.

He was one half of footballing twins alongside Ron, a striker, while his older brother Graham was also briefly a professional footballer with Chester.

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Paul left Chester after only one season and moved on to Luton, for whom he made more than 130 appearances and was capped by England at Under-21 level.

His form prompted Manchester City to make him their club record signing in June 1978, splashing out £350,000 and making Futcher the most expensive defender in English football.

But his spell at Maine Road only lasted a year before he moved on to Oldham, Derby and then, in 1983, Barnsley.

Known for his elegance and speed of thought, Futcher was twice called up to the full England squad but both times had to pull out through injury.

However, he went on to become one of Barnsley’s most popular players, making more than 230 appearances for the Tykes before leaving in 1989.

At that stage it seemed his career was winding down and he was 35 when, after a brief period with Halifax, he signed for Grimsby.

But Futcher quickly became a firm favourite at Blundell Park, helping the club to the only promotion of his career and being named supporters’ player of the year in 1992 and 1993.

He moved on again in 1994 and played for Dundalk, Droylsden and Gresley Rovers before finishing his career at Southport.

Gresley and Southport saw him take on dual roles as player and manager and he later managed Stalybridge Celtic and Ashton United.

In 1998 he took Southport to Wembley for the FA Trophy final and, at 41, became the then oldest outfield player to appear in a competitive Wembley final.

Futcher’s son Ben followed his father and uncles into football and was until last week assistant manager at Bury, while former England international Danny Murphy was one of his nephews.