The North West Cricket fraternity is mourning the loss today of former, player, umpire and youth Coach John Watson who has passed away after a lengthy illness.

"Camper" as he was known to many, played for Waterside, Brigade, Creevedonnell and finally his beloved Glendermott where he spent more than 30 years in various roles.

John made his reputation as a quick bowler at Beechgrove where he was club captain for a time and was part of the all conquering Brigade side that did the treble in 1972.

He played representative cricket for the NW that year and among his victims were internationals Ivan Anderson. Dermott Monteith and David Pigot.

However he was also part of the Creevedonnell side that beat Brigade in the top flight play-off in their only relegation season.

He returned to Beechgrove soon after before heading to the Rectory and his spiritual home. John was youth team Coach at Glendermott and graduated from there to become a highly respected youth Coach for the North West.

He was a man who knew his own mind and had a great insight into strengths and weaknesses in his players' technique.

He even had a turn at umpiring and could easily have made a career at that too; however nothing gave him more pleasure, and often frustration, than sitting among his friends at the Rectory watching the GCC.

NW Chairman Brian Dougherty lead the tributes saying: "On behalf of the NWCU and in a personal capacity I would like to express my sadness at the death of John Watson and convey my condolences to his family circle.

"John was known first and foremost as a gentleman as well as a cricket man. I got to know him initially when his son Paul played for Creevedonnell. Of course John also played there but he is best known for a sterling career at Brigade and latterly Glendermott.

"We often forget what a formidable bowler he was which earned him NW representative honours as he was involved in so much of what is important for local cricket. When he finished playing he became a respected umpire and became a stalwart in the rise of his main love, Glendermott CC.

"He recognised the importance of putting back into the game and his determination and commitment as a volunteer at Glendermott no doubt contributed greatly to the success the club has had. John will be greatly missed around the North West but his legacy will remain at the Rectory."

Former Brigade and NW colleague Roy Torrens said: "Big John was a very underrated bowler and was an  important member of the very successful Brigade side in the 70ís.

"He was also a more than useful late order batsman and was responsible for Brigade winning matches which previously had seemed lost.

"Above all he was a real team man and a real asset to our team We at Beechgrove mourn his passing and offer our heartfelt condolences to Liz and the entire family circle."

His NW coaching partner John Semple paid tribute saying: "John Watson was a cricketers cricketer who knew the game, knew the players and officials. He was respected the length and breath of Ireland from international players to a young club player.

"John and I were involved in coaching and looking after the NW u15 team for many years he called a spade a spade and did not take fools lightly he always tried to select the best players no matter were they were from. He would always help me with Irish sessions travelling to Belfast  casting his eye over players.

"He was the man who helped change Graeme Mc Carterís bowling action helping turn him into an international player. John and I had many happy years taking NW teams for tournaments he always made himself available he was also deeply involved in the Derry Midweek for many years.

"I looked forward to our meetings at the Rectory were we discussed the state of NW and Irish cricket and the way forward. John was a Glendermott stalwart how much would he not be worth in todayís cricket. He will be sorely missed by all Liz and his family and his cricketing family, another loss to grassroots NW cricket - he will be sadly missed."

Michael Gillespie of NW and Strabane added: "John was a knowledgeable, true cricket man who knew the game inside out but more importantly, a gentleman who it was a pleasure to talk over many memorable years. May his soul rest in gentle peace."

Robin Haire, North Down, NCU and Ireland said also: :Very sad to hear this, good times with John both coaching at under 15 interpro level and socialising after North Down versus GCC games. Condolences to both immediate and GCC families."

John is survived by wife Liz, son Paul and daughters Christina, Lisa and Clare.

He will be sorely missed by all in the North West, but nowhere moreso than on Bonds Street.

John's funeral will be held on Friday July 12th at All Saints Church Clooney at 2pm.