TRIBUTES are being paid to hugely-respected former Bradford League cricketer Jeff Slater, who has died aged 74.

Slater was a stalwart of the Manningham Mills club both as a long-serving player and as a hard-working club official.

In his pomp he was a seam bowling all-rounder who played alongside many fine players at Mills and was part of their side that won the Priestley Cup for the only time in 1977. It was a team that included the Yorkshire and England duo of Phil Sharpe and Don Wilson.

No task was too much for Slater, whose sons Phil and Richard spent many happy hours shaping their cricketing careers going to the club with their dad.

Phil, who went on to become one of the league's top all-rounders in his own right, recalls: "We would go down to the club early in the morning on match days and help dad as he cut, rolled and prepared the pitch.

"We would watch the match and wouldn't leave the ground until dad had locked up the bar after everybody had left."

Phil and Richard played alongside their dad in the second team in the latter stages of his career.

It said much for Jeff's love of his club that he remained with them when they were expelled from the league in the late eighties and helped them fight their way back through the Mutual Sunday School League.

When Phil moved on to play for Baildon and then Bradford & Bingley, Jeff, who had retired from playing, was an avid watcher of his son's matches.

His engaging personality and beaming smile made him an unmistakeable figure at every ground he visited. He loved nothing better than walking around the boundary and engaging in banter with cricketing friends and foes.

One of his proudest moments came in 2010 when Phil produced a Man of the Match winning performance as he guided Bradford & Bingley to a record-breaking Priestley Cup final win over Farsley.

Phil made an unbeaten 88 as his side piled up a score of 309-5 and he recalls a precious moment at the tea interval.

He said: "My dad walked across the field at the tea interval and shook my hand. I told him 'that was for you dad.'

"It is a moment I will never forget. He was so happy to come and join in the celebrations afterwards."

Jeff was to see Phil lift the Priestley Cup again in 2015 and though he would never have wanted to take the credit, he should have felt an immense pride in the role he played in his son's cricketing journey.

Since news of Jeff's death emerged on Friday, social media has been full of tributes to Jeff. "It is amazing how the cricket community has responded," said Phil.

"Colleagues and opponents of my dad and I have said some wonderful things. It means so much to us at this time. I believe cricket is a very special game and only cricket pulls together in this way. We are all part of one big community."

David Young, chairman of the Bradford Premier League, said: "Jeff was a a wonderful servant of his club and a great supporter of the league. Our thoughts are with his wife Janet, Phil, Richard and their families."

Jeff's funeral is to be held on Friday, February 7 at Nab Wood Crematorium at 2pm. The wake will be held afterwards at Shipley Golf Club.