Tributes have been paid to a popular sportsman who has died following a year-long battle with lung cancer.
Tony Nuttall, who played football for Accrington Stanley and Lancashire League cricket, died aged 54 after collapsing at home.
His brother Stephen said he battled cancer bravely after being told the illness was terminal 12 months ago.
Stephen, 61, said: “Tony never had a bad word for anyone.
“He was such a likeable fellow who always had a smile on his face. He was very gracious. He loved sport and playing golf too.
“He was good fun, full of life, which is why it is so sad that he was taken so young. His wife Janet called him a ‘cheeky chappie’ because of his witty sense of humour.
He was always wanting to do something.”
Stephen said Tony celebrated his seventh wedding anniversary a few weeks before he died. He said: “He somehow made it out for a meal with Janet despite being ill. He was a proud man who had never smoked and he fought a long battle. For the past three or four weeks he declined rapidly and he collapsed at home last Wednesday morning.
“It is at times like this when you realise how precious life is. My wife had a heart attack a few days before Tony died so things have been tough.
“Everyone is devastated because he had such a hard journey.”
Tony, who grew up in Rawtenstall, attended Haslingden High School before going on to work as a photocopier engineer with Ricoh. He was a lifelong Burnley FC fan and played a few games for Accrington Stanley reserves in goal as well as representing Great Harwood FC. He also played for local teams Rishton and Oswaldtwistle Immanuel.
Frank Martindale, a former wicket keeper and Rishton Cricket Club captain, said Tony was ‘a really nice bloke’.
He added: “The cricketing fraternity will be sad about his passing.
“He was always lively to have around and very popular. He will be sadly missed.”
Tony, who died at home in Burnley, leaves his wife Janet, daughter Samantha, 17 and step-children and his mum Margaret, 83.
His funeral is on Friday, June 28 at Burnley Crematorium. Before that there will be a procession from his home down to Turf Moor football ground.