ONE of Thorne's most naturally talented athletes and gifted rugby players Garry Hemingway has died aged 69.

ONE of Thorne's most naturally talented athletes and gifted rugby players Garry Hemingway has died aged 69.

He grew up in Thorne during the Second World War and soon became known throughout the area for his sporting achievements.

Hemingway was blessed with lightening pace and, as well as being a match for most at sprinting, he was the English Schools long jump champion two years running while attending Thorne Grammar School in the Fifties.

He was still a teenager when he played in the Thornensians side that won the Yorkshire Shield in 1952 and became the club's record try scorer with 30 in one season.

At the time Thornensians were one of the leading rugby sides in the county and his record survives to the present day as the second highest ever at the club - beaten only by his elder brother Tom Hemingway with 31.

Hemingway was fondly remembered by his contemporaries as a player who never had to work particularly hard at his game because of his remarkable athletic attributes.

Thornensians honorary life president Denis Fox said: "He was a just an extraordinary natural talent."

Former teamate Reg Clayton, who came across several outstanding athletes during four decades as games master at Thorne Grammar School, said: "He liked a pint and was never that keen on training but he had more natural ability than anyone I have ever seen."

Hemingway played for Thornensians until 1957 when he switched codes to play professionally for Leeds Rugby League club with remarkable success.

Many players around the time found it hard to make the change but Hemingway took it in his stride.

He scored on his debut against Salford and went on to become the club's top try scorer.

The following season he notched a phenomenal 40 tries which is still in the top ten on the club's all time list before finishing his career early because of injury after scoring 82 tries in 87 games.

Inevitably he finished off as he had begun with a try in his final match.

Hemingway continued his career as a teacher before retiring to the Lake District.

His funeral was held in Barrow last week.