THE FAMILY of Blackburn-born footballer and photographer Gary Talbot have paid tribute to a ‘true gentleman’ after he died at the age of 82 following a long battle with cancer.

Former Lancashire Evening Telegraph photographer Gary, who was regarded as a legend at his beloved Chester FC, died on Sunday morning at the Countess of Chester hospital.

A prolific goalscorer for the club, he enjoyed two spells at the Cheshire outfit becoming the club’s record Football League goalscorer and scoring one of the FA Cup’s fastest ever hat-tricks, in just under three minutes, against Crewe Alexandra in November 1964.

All these feats were achieved while juggling a successful career as a press photographer which saw him take many iconic pictures of royalty, such as Princess Diana, through to world leaders and film stars like Sean Connery and James Mason. He was also official club photographer for Everton.

Gary’s wife, Christine, said: “He was a family man who loved his family and was proud of them.

"A true gentleman with a good sense of humour, even until the end.

“He always saw the best in everyone and never had anything negative to say about anyone, he was always so positive.”

Gary began his career as a photographer for local newspapers, including the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, and although he had played in the reserves at his hometown club Blackburn Rovers, as well as Preston, it was while working for the Daily Mail that he found his way back into football at a charity match.

After showing his natural goalscoring instinct with a handful of goals in a game alongside Chester manager Peter Hauser he was offered a surprise trial at Sealand Road.

Gary will be particularly be remembered for his goal contributions in the 1964/65 season when he was a member of the “Famous Five” forward line, alongside Jimmy Humes, Mike Metcalf, Elfed Morris and Hugh Ryden. Between them the five forwards scored more than 20 goals apiece in all English competitions with Gary finishing top scorer in the league with 28 of the 119 goals.

Gary ended his football career in 1969 to concentrate on his photography business which was going from strength to strength  and allowed him to travel the world and photograph famous faces such as Princess Diana, the President of Kenya, the President of India and Jane Mansfield.

A lifetime president of Chester FC, as well as president of the Chester Former Players’ Association, Gary remained an enthusiastic supporter of the reformed club which he loved with a passion and was a familiar sight at the ground until very recently.

One of his last formal roles at the club was to accept the accolade of having the upstairs lounge at the 1885 Arena named in his honour.

He leaves two children, Annabel who lives in Australia and Damian who lives in Dubai, as well as his two grandchildren Matilda, aged 11, and Maisie, aged seven.

Christine added: “They are all arriving tonight for Christmas which is a great tragedy because he died this morning (Sunday, December 22). He didn’t manage to survive to see them.

“We are all heartbroken. He had been battling lung cancer since last year but he lost that battle this morning.

“He was always a joy to be around, our family was our world.

“I have loads of happy memories, he had a great life and travelled all over world.”