Keith Irving, a former Whitehaven rugby league club chairman, has died at the age of 84.

A talented all-round sportsman Keith played for England at amateur rugby league level; was a keen boxer in his youth; was asked to train with Workington Reds Football League squad and played both rugby union and cricket.

He had started playing football as a ten-year-old in 1947 at the National School and was introduced to rugby union at Whitehaven Grammar School a year later.

As a teenager he joined Murray Boys Club and was a keen boxer under the tuition of the well-known local pugilist Billy Murdock.

In later years Keith loved to tell the tale of how he and a pal Ralph Walker travelled to Nottingham for a bout but on the way back missed their connection at Barrow and spent the night in the police cells!

After leaving school he joined the local firm Border Engineering and was there foremost of his working life, becoming a director when it evolved into Border Construction.

In the early 50’s he played for Workington Reds A team (their third side) but was also invited to train with Whitehaven rugby league club. Indeed he was about to sign for Haven when he was called-up for National Service.

He served in the Military Police in Woking for two years where he played rugby union and cricket, and was selected for the Army team.

On his demob he returned to civvy street, working in Scotland for a while and when returning to Cumberland signed for the amateur club Wath Brow Hornets. From there he was selected for England and recalled how, playing in France, how emotional he felt as they played the National Anthem before the game.

He joined Barrow in the professional ranks before signing for Whitehaven in 1972 at 34 as a prop forward. His last game for the club was televised against Halifax and commentator Eddie Waring described him as “the oldest man still playing rugby league.”

When he retired as a player he went into coaching, serving both his old club Wath Brow and Glasson Rangers.

He had a short spell as team manager at Workington Town before he was asked to join the board at Whitehaven. He spent several seasons at the Recreation Ground, including a spell as chairman.

On the Whitehaven RL Vice President’s Facebook page a message said: “A good prop forward on the field and a gentleman off it we send our condolences to his family and friends.”