FORMER Darlington defender Peter Skipper, who played for the club in the early 1980s, has died at the age of 61.

A centre-back who spent two seasons with Quakers, Hull-born Skipper is understood to have suffered a stroke at the weekend.

He had a lengthy career that included time with Oldham, Walsall and Wigan, spending the bulk of his playing days with Hull City for whom he made 338 appearances.

But he remains fondly-remembered by Darlington supporters and team-mates from his time at Feethams having joined from Hull in 1981 when Billy Elliot was manager and went on to miss only one match during his time in the North-East.

Skipper made 98 appearances as Quakers finished 8th and 13th in his two seasons, a time in which his team-mates included Kevan Smith, David Speedie, Dave McLean and Alan Walsh.

Smith said: “It was a real shock to me and Speedo when I rang and told him of our great friend and team-mate being taken too early from this earth. I feel nothing but sadness and sorrow at this. RIP my friend.”

Skipper played in a 3-0 Boxing Day win over Hartlepool United in front of over 7,000 fans at Feethams, and he also played when Walsh scored four against Pools in a 5-2 Darlington win in April 1982.

Skipper returned to Hull at the end of that season, going on to win promotion twice with his hometown club where he is highly regarded and worked on matchdays as a corporate host at the KCOM Stadium.

“It’s desperately sad because Pete was a great man,” Garreth Roberts, Skipper's captain during his second spell at Boothferry Park, told the Hull Daily Mail.

“You could always depend on him. Anything you needed, he was the one you went to.

“He was such a big part of our successful team. He read the game superbly, he was strong in the air and had a sweet left foot. He was an eight out of 10 man. He was a warrior as well. He gave everything he had because the club meant so much to him.”