HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a ‘wonderful gentleman of cricket’ after he lost his brave four-year battle against cancer.

Stunned friends of former Nelson player and chairman Milton Lord say his death at the age of 62 leaves a massive void in the sport with grounds not seeming the same without his infectious smile.

Over his five decades involved in league cricket, Milton made countless friends and even though he was known primarily through his time at the Seedhill club, he was well liked by fans of clubs throughout Lancashire.

He played 139 first team games for Nelson between 1971 and 1991 but spent many years captaining the club’s seconds and helped to turn promising young talent into established Lancashire League players.

Following his playing retirement, Milton became chairman of Nelson and was at the forefront of boosting the profile of both his club and of the Lancashire League itself.

Milton was also one of the leading lights in the campaign to get Pendle Council to honour legendary former Nelson professional Learie Constantine with a blue plaque on his old house two years ago.

Not even his devastating illness could stop Milton from being cheerful and chatty and he made new friends last season when he watched his son Tom - like his dad a left-arm spinner and hard-hitting batsman - playing for Ribblesdale League side Clitheroe.

He was immensely proud after Thomas won the Clitheroe batting, bowling and players’ player of the year award last year.

“He was made to feel welcome down at Clitheroe,” said Thomas. “He was such a good man who had time for everyone.

“We as a family adored him and thought he was wonderful and have been overwhelmed by the many inspiring tributes already received.”

“Even though he had been unwell his death has come as a shock to us all and I think because he tried to carry on people perhaps didn’t realise how ill he was and from the messages we have received we know it has shocked a lot of people.”

The chairman of the Foster’s Lancashire League, Mike Bibby, said Milton’s death would be felt by all in cricket and he said: “I think I speak for everyone involved in league cricket when I say Milton was a wonderful gentleman of cricket.

“He was a wonderful guy, known and liked by everyone who met him.”

Former Nelson and Colne star Danny Kegg said: “Milton was funny, friendly, honest, proud, loyal and a massive influence on me both cricket wise and personally.”

Milton died peacefully on Sunday, with his wife Norma and children Sam, Sarah and Thomas by his side.