Tributes have been paid to former Bradford Northern player Martin Potts, who has died after a battle with motor neurone disease.

The 42-year-old, who retired from the sport just over two years ago before being diagnosed with the degenerative muscular condition, died at the weekend.

Friends and family will say their last goodbyes at his funeral on Friday.

His ashes will be scattered at the grounds of Queensbury’s rugby and cricket clubs, where he last played before the disease took hold.

His father, Mike Potts, said a collection in his son’s memory would be shared between the two clubs who raised enough funds to turn a garage into a living space when he had to return to his parents’ home.

“At first when he started to lose the use of his left hand we thought it was a trapped nerve or a rugby injury but it got worse,” said Mr Potts. “He didn’t get a diagnosis until February last year.

“It is a hideous condition so really it was a blessing for him to go – I didn’t want him to suffer any more.

“His mind was all there but his body was absolutely useless. The frustration would have been intolerable.”

He added: “We wanted the collection to go to the Queensbury clubs because it is a way of saying thank you to them for all the support they gave Martin.

“Without them, the struggle would have been so much worse.”

Martin debuted with Bradford Northern in 1985 as a full-back and played 19 games with them in four seasons. His outings in the first team were limited by Northern full-back legend Keith Mumby, who was his childhood hero.

In 1990, he left the Odsal-based team and for a short while played for Doncaster and Barrow before moving onto Clayton Amateurs then Queensbury ARLFC in 1995.

Former team-mate Andy Thornton, who helped raise enough money to adapt Martin’s parents’ home so he could live with them in Foxhill, Queensbury, said: “He was a fantastic man. Despite his illness he still managed to have a smile on his face.

“It was only a few weeks ago that he stopped coming out to the pub. The lads would call round for him in his wheelchair.

“We feel terribly sad that he’s gone but it was probably a relief for him. It’s a horrific condition when your mind stays but your body gives up on you.”

Martin’s Northern clubmate, Keith Mumby, said: “He was one of the best friends I’d ever had. I saw him a couple of months ago and we’d had a good night.

“I’d been planning to see him again at the weekend. It’s a shame but I missed him. His dad rang me and told me the news.

“He was a fantastic player. If he’d got to Northern first he would have been the number one full-back, not me.”

Mr Potts’ funeral will be at Parkwood Crematorium in Elland on Friday at 1.30pm.

As well as his father and mother Christine, Martin leaves a 20-year-old daughter, Gemma, and a grandson, Wesley, aged eight months.