FORMER Scarborough Football Club player and manager Billy Ayre has died, aged 49, after suffering from cancer of the lymph gland.
Ex-Boro boss Colin Appleton brought Ayre to the former Athletic Ground from Bishop Auckland in 1975, making the centre half his captain.
Under Appleton, Ayre appeared in two of Boro's winning FA Trophy finals against Stafford Rangers in 1976 - when he helped to set up one of the goals - and against Dagenham a year later.
He was voted Boro's player of the year by fans in 1977.
Mr Appleton said: "He was a well respected, good player who was a schoolteacher when I signed him.
"It is very sad. He had been ill for the past two years. He was a great person to have around a football club. He was as honest as the day is long."
Former Boro chairman John Russell, who brought Ayre back to the club as manager in 1994-95, said: "He was a great player for Scarborough in its non-league days.
"My wife Gillian and I are very sorry to hear the news and our thoughts go out to Billy's family."
Ayre made almost 120 appearances for Boro, scoring 20 goals, including a hat-trick against Worksop, before moving on to play for Halifax Town.
During his career Ayre also managed Blackpool, and was assistant manager at both Lincoln City and Cardiff City. He later helped out with coaching at Bury.
by Chris Nixon