Tributes have been paid to the president of Cleckheaton RUFC, Alan Bentley, who has passed away suddenly.
Mr Bentley, 62, served Cleckheaton in a myriad of positions on and off the field for many years, including captaining the first team, and was described this week as a “true rugby man”.
Known affectionately as ‘Bentos’, he suffered a heart attack at home and passed away at Dewsbury District Hospital last Friday.
He leaves behind his beloved wife of 38 years, Linda, daughter Emma and son David.
Born in Mirfield and raised in Cleckheaton, Mr Bentley was a formidable player before becoming a stalwart administrator with his hometown club.
The second-rower began his career with Cleckheaton before moving to Bradford RFC, attracted by the prospect of playing higher-grade rugby.
In the 70s and early 80s the former Whitcliffe Mount pupil took on the leading lights of the English game, playing against illustrious opposition including Saracens, Wasps, Bath and Sale.
Whilst studying at Canterbury Mr Bentley also gained a rugby ‘Blue’ when he was selected to play for the English Universities XV.
After success as skipper of the now-defunct Bradford club he then moved back to Cleckheaton, where he was captain for a number of seasons in the early 80s. Retiring from playing in his early 40s, he then became a dedicated committee man and over the years took on almost every role at one time or another.
‘Bentos’ was a familiar sight at the ground and could variously be found marking out the pitch, putting out shirts, writing match reports and greeting visiting officials.
As well as being club president he also took on the role of fixture secretary, organising games and referees for Cleckheaton’s four open-age sides.
A loving family man, away from rugby Mr Bentley excelled in a career as a high school economics teacher before later becoming a financial adviser.
Cleckheaton RUFC chairman Neil Gillan said: “Alan was an absolute legend who will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him.
“He gave his all for the club both as a player and later as a committee man, and he also did a whole host of other jobs that often went unseen but are vitally important for a club such as ours to function.
“He was a lovely bloke and very committed to the traditional ethos of rugby – passion, enjoyment and respect.
“He has left a gulf and we are all deeply saddened by the news.”
Tributes have been paid by RU clubs across the region, including Ossett and Morley, with contributors to online forums describing him as “One of the old school” and “A true rugby man”.
A large turnout is expected at his funeral next Friday, February 6, at Park Wood Crematorium in Elland, and club members have been asked to wear their distinctive blazers.
Further funeral details can be found at www.cleckheatonrugbyclub.com.