TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved face in Warrington.

Former Warrington forward George Thornton died today, Wednesday, at home after a long illness.

He was 74.

As well as a former back rower who player in the A team for the Wire, he was the chairman of the Warrington Players’ Association.

He was also a photographer at the club and for Warrington Borough Council where he worked in the press office. As well as regularly photographing Wire matches, he had met and photographed many famous faces including royalty.

A spokesman for Warrington Wolves said: "George, who had supported the Wire from being a small boy, signed for the club in 1972.  A bustling forward “Judder” played in the ‘A’ for a couple of seasons before injury curtailed his playing career.  He then served on the Warrington back-room staff until 1978.

"For the next 40 years George followed the Wire taking photographs of matches and all things Warrington RLFC in an official capacity.

Warrington Guardian:

George at the Hall of Fame with Tommy Martyn and Alex Murphy

"He served on the Warrington Players’ Association committee for many years, eventually becoming Chairman, succeeding his mentor “Nobby” Clarke.

"George, a passionate Warringtonian, was a wonderful man and nothing was ever too much trouble for him.  He continually helped former players and was always on hand when needed by the club.

"He leaves a wife Diane, daughter Kerry and granddaughter Maëllie. The club sends its condolences at this sad time.

"George epitomised everything that is good about our club and he will be missed by all at Warrington Wolves and throughout the Rugby League world."

Warrington Guardian:

At Wembley in 2009 with former Wire players from the 1974 and 1975 Challenge Cup Final squads

Former Wire players and committee members of the Warrington Players' Association have paid tribute to George in a statement.

"The Warrington Players’ Association committee, and all former players, are very saddened to hear of the death of our chairman George Thornton," it states.

"George was a tireless worker for the Association, taking over the role as chairman after the death of Derek “Nobby” Clarke in 2006.

"He forged many a good working relationship, not only with the Warrington Wolves, but also with other past players associations, including St Helens, Rochdale, Leigh, Widnes and Huddersfield.

"He was always at the forefront of supporting the club, organising association events, notably the annual dinner, encouraging the great heritage of our team, and helping former players in need.

"He will be great missed by the association, and the parent club.

"We send our deepest sympathy to his wife Diane, his family, and all his friends."

Warrington Guardian deputy editor Gareth Dunning said: "I have worked with George for more than a decade at the council and through his work with the club.

"He was a giant of a man in all senses of the word. I can remember as a young reporter being on the receiving end of one of his crushing handshakes!

"He was a pleasure to work with, always funny, dry, warm and friendly.

"He loved Warrington and always had an anecdote and a story to tell.

Warrington Guardian:

George with Keith Affleck

"I last saw him at the homecoming after Wolves beat St Helens in the Challenge Cup Final in August. He was too sick to travel to Wembley but was in the front row for the ceremony and was beaming with pride at the events.

"He was the same George, optimistic about the future and holding court with tales of the past.

"A lovely man who will be sadly missed by us all at the Warrington Guardian."

Warrington Borough Council chief executive Steven Broomhead said he will be really missed.

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So sad to hear the news of Goerge (dead average) Thornton passing today. Fantastic bloke and will be sadly missed

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