One of the best-known figures in Huddersfield and District Chess League has died aged 74 following a massive stroke.

John Newsome was in charge of Netherton (Wakefield) chess teams for many years and in the heyday of the league in the mid-1990s his fiercely competitive teams provided worthy opponents for the leading team of the time, Denby Dale, now defunct.

Although a modest player himself, John was always determined to field the strongest of teams and clashes between Denby Dale, later The Chartist, (Skelmanthorpe), were always eagerly anticipated events.

In his latter years he was secretary of Netherton and West Bretton Chess Club.

An exceptionally pleasant and mild-mannered man, his appearance belied a steely interior. He was an inspiration to many away from the chessboard with a huge list of achievements to his credit.

After training as a teacher at Westminster College, Oxford, where he captained cross country and athletic teams, he went on to compete for Yorkshire and as a marathon runner for Great Britain.

During his distinguished racing career he won many top honours including the Yorkshire marathon title no fewer than seven times.

He also competed in the famous London to Brighton races.

A natural teacher he was a much-loved figure at Kettlethorpe, Wrenthorpe and at Netherton Junior and Infant School, (Wakefield), where he was deputy head for many years.

While teaching, Netherton received an award from the British Chess Federation for continually providing teams of a consistantly high standard.

John Newsome, a natural winner, on his favourite podium. Credit: Northern Athletics

A dearly loved husband of Wendy, 70, to whom he was married for more than 50 years, he was also a loving dad of John, 49, and Michael, 48, the latter a strong chess player in his 20s.

In addition he and Wendy were blessed with three grandchildren.

Robert Sutcliffe, a former President and Secretary of Huddersfield Chess Club, said: “John Newsome was a delightful man of whom no-one ever said a bad word.

“He had a keen sense of humour and could always be relied upon to help defuse any fraught situations in the often highly world of competitive matches.

“He enjoyed a pint but was always slightly shocked at how much some of us used to put away all those years ago while we played at Denby D-Ale.”

His funeral service will be held at West Wakefield Methodist Church, Thornes Road, at noon on Thursday September 29, followed by cremation at Wakefield Crematorium.