A FORMER miner who played 160 games in the Football League before returning to his native North-East as a successful player-manager has died three days after his 68th birthday.

Norman Corner played for his home club Horden Colliery Welfare during three spells, later served as a long-serving committee member, and was player-manager at Wingate.

Mr Corner was born in Horden, County Durham, in February 1943. He played centre half and wing half for his school side - Horden RC - and East Durham Boys.

After leaving school he worked in the local mine and also played for Horden Colliery Welfare. He briefly played in the junior teams at Wolverhampton Wanderers before returning to Horden.

He earned a move into the Football League with Hull City. Despite playing only five league games in three seasons, an approach by Brian Clough, then Hartlepools manager, was turned down by the Hull chairman.

He went onto Lincoln City and Bradford City, at the latter of which he earned the majority of his league experience, as centre forward as well as centre half.

He moved onto Bradford Park Avenue, by then non-league, before he returned to his native North-East.

His playing days continued with South Shields, as hugely successful player-manager at Wingate and a return to his first club.

After retiring he was a committee member at Horden Colliery Welfare, barely missing a game.

In 2004, at a match to inaugurate the club's new facilities, he said: "I've had two hip replacements, a triple heart bypass, things wrong all over the place. I put it all down to football but if I could I'd have my boots on and be out there in five minutes."

Mr Corner, who latterly lived in Peterlee, died on Saturday following a long illness.

Fellow committee member and friend Bob Margison said yesterday: "Norman was a good footballer, a big, strong lad who was never beaten but he never received a red card throughout his career.

"Apart from the clubs he played at, he was player-manager at Wingate. He took them to runners-up in the Wearside League - something they have never beaten.

"If you broke him in two, you would find Horden right through the middle. He did everything for the village."

He is survived by wife, Jean, and their two children Susan and Steven, and three grandchildren. His funeral is at Horden Catholic Church at 11.30am on Friday (February 25).