Former policeman Joseph Tattersall – who as a schoolboy once padded up to face legendary West Indian cricketer Sir Learie Constantine – has died aged 98 in the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Until his death “Joe Tatt” – as he was known – had been the oldest-surviving pupil of Nelson Grammar School, winning a place there with a “Nelson Corporation” scholarship after passing his 11-plus at Bradshaw Street School.
A keen and popular sportsman until well into his 40s, he created a Nelson Grammar School record never to be beaten by missing only two games out of 98 over five seasons as goalkeeper for the First XI, ending up as captain.
He was also opening batsman and wicketkeeper for the cricket team and became the first player to hit a half century on the school’s new cricket pitch after it moved from its original town centre site to Oxford Road.
Later he found himself facing Sir Learie, who turned out in a School v Staff game – and the School XI won.
After leaving school, Joe was offered trials by a couple of local professional football clubs but turned his back on them to join Lancashire Police, although he did continue playing football and cricket on an amateur basis.
After war broke out, Joe joined the Royal Artillery, fighting in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany and representing his regiment at football before resuming his police career in the Chadderton and Rochdale areas after D-Day.
He married in 1948 and had two sons before moving back to Brierfield in 1956 and being based at Reedley police station until his retirement in 1968.
After divorcing his first wife, he lived in Rossendale Road, Burnley, before meeting his second wife Kathleen Rhodes, and moving to Meredith Street, Nelson, round the corner from where his parents still lived in his boyhood home in Napier Street, and handy for the Poultry Club, where he was a life member.
Later he and Kath had an old folks’ flat in Railway Street and were keen ballroom dancers until Kath’s death in 2005.
Three years ago, as his health began to fade, Joe moved into the Andrew Smith Home. But his love of sport remained to the end – and he followed the fortunes of Burnley Football Club.
Mr Tattersall, whose funeral takes place on Monday at St Paul’s Church, followed by cremation at Burnley, leaves sons Malcolm and Lester, both of whom followed in his footsteps to Nelson Grammar School, and five grandchildren. Malcolm (65), a former Burnley Express journalist who lives in Bedfordshire, said: “He was a bit of a legend. We all have our heroes – and he was one of mine.”