A FORMER professional footballer who later became a school headteacher has died at the age of 90.

Ken Smith, from Newton Hall, Durham, was two hours short of his 91st birthday when he died on December 6.

Mr Smith, who was originally from Blackhall, near Consett, was a professional footballer for Gateshead, when the team played in the first division in the 1950s.

Ken Smith, during his days as a professional footballer

He had started playing during his time in the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the end of the Second World War and when he returned from national service, signed with Blackpool in 1949.

During his time there he met his future wife Thelma at a dance in Consett, and they married in 1951.

After initially living in Blackpool, the couple returned to the North-East when Mr Smith signed with Gateshead, where he scored 79 goals during his 269 appearances for the team.

Ken Smith during his time at Siddle Cook

After retiring from football, he trained as a company secretary and worked for Siddle Cook, in Consett before retraining as a teacher at Neville’s Cross College.

As a trainee, he worked at Framwellgate Moor School and continued his career there as a maths and religion teacher, eventually being appointed headteacher.

He worked until retiring in the 1980s, after which time he spent much of his time at North Road Methodist Church, where he was a dedicated member.

Jackie Morrison, his daughter, said: “There was an awful lot of respect for my dad. The kids thought an awful lot of him and he loved it.

“He loved teaching people and he loved kids.”

She added: “He was always very generous. If he knew someone needed help he would always give it.”

A great sportsman, he was also captain of Consett golf club and the senior captain of Brancepeth golf club.

He has two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

His funeral took place at North Road Methodist Church on Wednesday.