THE Herefordshire cricket and football community have been stunned by the tragically early death of a much loved sportsman this week.

Former Brockhampton Cricket Club stalwart and Hereford United FC apprentice Andrew Watkins (affectionately known to all as ‘Woko’) finally lost his fight with pancreatic cancer after a brave six-month long battle at the age of 45.

During his sports career Watkins was a prolific opening batsman for a number of local cricket clubs across the county.

His real contribution to the game however, came as first team captain of Brockhampton, a position he held for a number of years.

His journey through the grassroots cricket scene saw him as a young and promising batsman at the Strollers, Merry Millers and Goodrich Cricket Clubs.

In his time at Brockhampton, Watkins' impact both on and off the field was enormous. Former team-mates and cricket clubs from across the county have paid tribute and noted his 'significant influence, his personality and passion for the game'.

Watkins came from a well-known and respected sporting family within the county.

His father, Charlie, was a revered striker who inspired his son’s entry into the game of football.

Andrew was an outstanding young goalkeeper who signed for Hereford United straight from secondary school.

At the club, he shared special times playing alongside his brother James for a number of years, who had also signed a year later as a full-time apprentice.

Eventually leaving the club, Watkins played for a number of clubs including Solihull Moors at the top end of non-league football.

Despite flourishing in football, Watkins' first love was clearly cricket.

Although the local sportsman will be recognised by the football fraternity for his outstanding ability, he will be remembered most fondly for his love and passion for cricket and for the younger players he has inspired to represent Brockhampton Cricket Club for seasons to come.

He leaves his two daughters, Evie and Layla. Both girls have already shown glimpses of their father’s sporting prowess and wicked sense of humour.

The celebration of Andrew’s life and passion for sport will take place at Brockhampton Church on Wednesday, June 19, at 2pm.

The get together of ‘Woko’s after do’ will take place at his beloved Brockhampton Cricket Club.

Everyone who knew Andrew Watkins will be welcomed by the family who highlight a smart casual dress code – please no black (Liverpool FC or cricket shirts are encouraged).