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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Obituary - John Stoddart, of Workington

A lifelong player and follower of Workington’s mass football game Uppies and Downies has died aged 90.

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LEGEND: Uppie John Stoddart leads the pack through the beck towards Curwen Hall at an Uppies and Downies match in 1949

John Stoddart, of Mossbay Road, started playing as a teenager with his father Jack, uncle Geordie and brothers Albert, Les, Jimmy and Harold.

He hailed around three balls for the Uppies during his time as a player.

The family as a whole hailed around 30 balls during the time they played.

So passionate about the game, Mr Stoddart was seen in the scrum in recent years with men half his age, despite being in his 80s.

He was born at the family home in Church Street on April 14, 1922, to parents Jack and Annie.

The family moved to Annie Pit and lived over the road from Annie Pit Castle.

Mr Stoddart moved to Richmond Park Care Home in Workington four years ago and then Dalton Court Care Home in Cockermouth for the final years of his life.

In the 1980s, he told of his experiences as an Uppies player to Workington author Keith Wallace for his book The Barbarians of Workington.

He was described by Mr Wallace as a “mine of information”.

Mr Wallace said: “He knew so much about the sport because he had played it all his life. He started playing as a young lad and was still active during his 80s.

“He was a very intelligent man and would have a good discussion on anything. He was very into his documentaries and art exhibitions and would travel abroad for these.

“John was a familiar and well-known figure around the town and would often be seen out and about in his mackintosh and wellies.

“He was last of a breed brought up in the depression years. I am in debt to him for all he contributed to the book.”

Mr Stoddart was a keen photographer and would snap anything from nature to landscapes. Another of his hobbies was researching local history.

Nephew Stephen said: “John was the end of an era. I classed John as a living legend. He was definitely always a legend in my eyes.

“I had many chats with John over the years and when he was in Richmond Park I would take him out and we would go for walks by the river. He had so many tales to tell about my dad Les when he was younger.

“He was one of the people who inspired me to become a player for the Uppies.

“He had so much information and knowledge.”

He died on January 23 and is survived by his sister Queenie Watson, nephew Stephen and niece Pauline Watson.

His funeral was held last week.

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