OTLEY Rugby Union Football Club stalwart Harry Melville has died aged 86.

The father of Lee, former England captain Nigel and potent Otley winger, he was probably one of the best wingers never to play for Yorkshire, being up against England internationals Frank Sykes and Peter Thompson at the time.

Addingham born, Harry went to Ilkley Grammar School, and won numerous sprinting events, not only at school but also in Yorkshire and could cover 100 yards in close to ten seconds.

His dad was killed in the Battle of El Alamein in World War Two and. on leaving school, Harry took an apprenticeship in the dying industry, which he was involved with all of his working life, eventually managing the Bousfield factory in Guiseley.

Always popular and always respected, both at work and in rugby, he was picked for Ilkley before he left school and played alongside such famous names as Sykes, Horrocks-Taylor, Boston and Jackson during his National Service.

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Harry joined Otley in 1955, where he played with great distinction for the next 15 years, and married Pauline in 1956, firstly living in Guiseley and then Menston.

Pauline died in 2000, which was doubly unfortunate as Harry had been severely handicapped all of his adult life by hearing loss, and her voice was the only one that he could understand.

Former Otley RUFC chairman Donald Holdsworth said of Harry: "I had cause to be grateful for his contribution on the left wing.

"As long as we won some decent ball and gave him enough room, he could always be relied on to run round his man. Good old Harry nipping in at the end to win the game.

"Their third son Lee died aged 20 of cystic fibrosis, which was a cross all the little family had to bear.

"Pauline had been his rock, giving unstinting, tremendous support, and we can only speculate at the difficulties that loss caused him, but he bore it with patience, stoicism and great courage – qualities which he had shown all his life.

"Harry was a great guy – he will be sadly missed."

His funeral will take place at Rawdon Crematorium on Friday, June 8 (3.40pm), followed by a post-funeral reception at Otley Rugby Club.