TRIBUTES have been paid to a Cumbria football legend and "true gentleman" who has died after contracting coronavirus.

Former Netherfield player Brian Arrowsmith died on Sunday, aged 79.

Arrowsmith joined the Kendal-based non-league club in summer 1971 and spent three years playing for them.

The popular defender was Barrow born and bred, and was best known for making 580 appearances for the Bluebirds in two spells between 1961 and 1977, as well as spending 18 months as player/manager.

But back in 1971, Brian was part of the Netherfield team which faced his hometown club in the Northern Premier League.

Arrowsmith was outstanding in a 1-0 win.

The following season in the Lancashire Junior Cup at Parkside Road, he actually scored the winning goal for Netherfield against his beloved Barrow.

When Brian rejoined Barrow as manager, one of his most important signings in the summer of 1975 was former Netherfield colleague Brian McManus.

Born on Walney Island in 1940, Brian was educated at Walney Secondary Modern School and played local junior football for West Barrow Albion, Sub Dock and Roose before signing for Barrow as an amateur player in 1958, then signed professional forms for the club in October 1961. He would be a regular for the next nine seasons, moving on to captain the side during their Football League days.

Most of his games were played in central defence and he was one of the key players in the 1966-67 promotion winning side from Division Four.

Mr Arrowsmith’s best friend of more than half a century, Jimmy Wright, paid tribute to his former teammate.

“We met in 1958 when we were both apprentices,” the 78-year-old said.

“He was best man at my wedding to Anita and I was best man at his to Jean.

“I had a lot of time for Brian, I couldn’t ask for a better friend.

“Brian’s biggest asset was his work ethic. He put 100 per cent into everything he did."

As well as being known for his football achievements, Brian was also a fine cricketer in his younger days and enjoyed golf during his retirement.

In January 2017, Barrow AFC named its stand in his honour and chairman Paul Hornby has said the club will once again pay a fitting tribute to Brian once the lockdown is over.