Hartlepool UNITED'S record goalscorer Ken Johnson has died at the age of 80.

Pools announced the news this morning as the club prepared to unveil Neale Cooper as their new manager.

His career at the Victoria Ground lasted 15 years, in which he made 383 league appearances and scored 98 goals, a Pools record Inside right Johnson was discovered playing for Seaton Holy Trinity Juniors, moving to Hartlepools United in 1949. He scored his first goal for the club on December 31 against Bradford City.

The forward played, in total, 413 games in all competitions for Pools, scoring 106 goals.

Johnson played a part in Pools' remarkable run in 1954-5 season when they went on an unbeaten 20-match run in league and cup, including playing neighbours Darlington five times in three weeks, winning three and drawing two.

Johnson scored in the FA Cup game against Manchester United in 1957, in front of a record crowd of 17,426 at the Victoria Ground.

He was struggling with an ankle injury but got on the scoresheet against the Busby Babes, in a 4-3 defeat which Matt Busby described as “the most exciting match I've ever watched.”

A club statement read today: “It is with immense sadness that we report the death of Pools legend Ken Johnson who passed away on Thursday morning aged 80.

“A hugely popular figure with fans, Johnson earned his place as one of the Club's most revered servants during a fifteen-year stint at The Vic between 1949 and 1964.

“While usually operating in an attacking role, Johnson was also employed in a number of deeper positions as he continued to perform with distinction.

“In 2008, Johnson was named Player of the 1950s following a vote by supporters, an award which he accepted with great pride.

“As well as being renowned for his exploits on the pitch, he was also popular away from The Vic and across the town where he was a familiar face to many.

“Johnson continued his love affair with Pools long after hanging up his boots and has been a regular at Victoria Park where he enjoyed meeting guests in the Club's Executive Boxes.

“Always sporting a broad smile and ready with a story about his time with Pools, Johnson will be much missed by everyone at Hartlepool United.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with Ken's family and friends at this sad time.”