FORMER Yorkshire rugby union player and notable league cricketer John Harker has died aged 74.

A front-row forward for Otley and Yorkshire in the 1960s and 1970s, John was also a fine cricketer for Otley and Ilkley and, in the Bradford League, for Yeadon.

Cricket secretary Rachel O'Connor said: "He was the best captain that Yeadon ever had.

"He was skipper when Geoff Cope arrived and the club was resurgent after being in the doldrums, and he got the best out of his players, making them better than they were, but it wasn't just the things that we did on the field.

"John was also involved with fund raising and, for example, Geoff and himself used to go around Yeadon on a Sunday collecting waste paper

"John was well respected, but he had two sides to his character.

"He was very amiable and always used to thank the tea ladies and back-room staff whether we were playing home and away, but he also had this gruff exterior that some people never got past."

John had also been a director of Greenholme Mills Carpet Centre, sponsorship chairman at Otley RUFC – he watched the first Test there between the All Blacks and the Lions – and was a former chairman of Glusburn & Cross Hills Parish Council.

His funeral is on Monday at St Gregory’s Church, Bedale (10am), followed by a gathering at Bedale Golf Club.