FORMER NEWCASTLE United star George Luke, who signed up for the club for just £5 a week in the 1950's, has died.

The 76-year-old left-winger was renowned as an honest and well-liked player, who refused to give up his job as an apprentice plumber when he signed for the Magpies.

During his playing career Mr Luke had two spells in black-and-white. First when Jackie Milburn was in his prime and later alongside stars including Ivor Allchurch, Len White and George Eastham.

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Former Newcastle United captain Bob Moncur, who was among those to play with Mr Luke, said: "George was always humorous and always had a dry joke. As a player, he had a great left foot. While he didn't make it in what you might describe as the big time, he was a popular player."

Mr Luke played all his Football League career in the North-East, having two spells with United and also serving Hartlepool and Darlington with distinction.

Born in the Newcastle, his first period at St James' Park in the early fifties saw his way into the first team blocked by Scottish maestro Bobby Mitchell.

He went to Hartlepool, where he scored 61 goals in 183 games before returning to Tyneside at the end of the fifties for a fee of £4,000.

His League career ended at Darlington, before George returned to Tyneside and opened a carpet shop in Forest Hall, North Tyneside, where he lived until he died.