A former Workington Town star of the 1950s has died, aged 83.

Former teammates and friends have paid tribute to Barrow-born Bill Wookey who passed away on Tuesday night.

Mr Wookey was snared away from Barrow by Workington Town aged 18 after excellent performances for Furness Rugby Union Club.

He has been described as a “natural and brilliant” player who could play in a variety of positions, but his greatest day came when as a 19-year-old he faced his hero the great Willie Horne at Wembley Stadium in the 1955 Challenge Cup final.

Mick Ducie, a Barrow player in the 50s and 60s, said: “Bill was a man with loads of ability, very quick and had a great side-step.

“He was a natural - a brilliant player.”

Long time friend and team mate Billy Skeels paid tribute.

He said: “Myself and Bill went to the technical school and played under 14s at league and under 15s at union.

“I played stand off and Bill at centre.We also played together for Barrow boys at league and competed in the top competition for schools the Daily Dispatch cup.

“We then moved to Furness Rugby Union, then I went to Barrow and Bill went to Workington and we did manage to play against each other on one occasion, it was very strange.

“He was a very good player”

John Rea who played for Barrow in the 1957 final against Leeds said: “ Bill was a very good player - very fast for such a big lad.”

Mr Wookey was interviewed in 2005 in our sister paper, The Mail’s special edition marking the 50th anniversary of Barrow defeating Workington 21-12 in the cup.

He said: “I was petrified but Sol Roper my half back partner (also 19) said: ‘What’s up marra? What’s thou worried about, we are playing against two old men Horne and Ted Toohey’.”

He returned to Wembley in 1958 for Workington’s third final of the 50s, but they lost to Wigan.

He returned home and signed for Barrow in 1964 playing 64 times scoring 12 tries before having a short spell at Blackpool.