TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular East Lancashire cricketer.

Rod Taylor played for Rawtenstall Cricket Club and Haslingden Cricket Club over 22 years and took a total of 557 Lancashire League and cup wickets.

The 78-year-old died on March 14 at Manchester Royal Hospital after a stroke.

His sister Gwenn Kennedy said: "When people remember him they say he was a character.

"He was well known for his cricketing prowess throughout the Rossendale valley.

"He had very strong opinions on things and did not hold back.

"I was so close to him and we had a good relationship."

Rod lived in Whitworth early in his life before the family moved to Rawtenstall where he lived until he died.

He started his cricketing career at Rawtenstall in 1962 where he made his debut at Todmorden in July.

As an opening bowler he helped Rawtenstall to finish runners-up in the league in 1967 and 1968.

Rod made a total of 211 league and cup appearances for Rawtenstall taking 282 league and 29 cup wickets respectively.

He played at Rawtenstall for 14 years before moving down the road to Haslingden where he played for a further 156 games between 1977 and 1984 taking 223 league and 23 cup wickets.

Ex-Rawtenstall CC chairman Brian Payne, who played with him, said: "Rod was a great lad, really competitive on the field and afterwards top notch off the pitch.

"He was really good company and was a great friend and still lived near me and when we met up we were always reminiscing.

"I remember I was the opening batsman and he was the opening bowler when we played against him at Haslingden.

"He ran up and I knocked the ball back over his head for six and he said 'that little so and so has never hit a six in his life' so I told him to bowl it in the same place and I would do it again."

In his working life Rod worked as a pattern cutter for slipper manufacturers which have now shut.

Bob Higham, who played with Rod at Haslingden, said: "He came to us after leaving Rawtenstall and he did well for us and was part of the team that won the league in 1983 and 1985.

"In one particular game he took 9-27 against Colne and was one of the best all-round performances I have seen.

"He was a great team player and a brilliant bowler."