TOUCHING tributes have poured in for an Old Silhillian RFC stalwart who died on St Valentine’s Day.
Claude Coton died of heart failure, aged 88, and leaves a widow, Dora.
He was a founder member of the Warwick Road Club back in the 1930s and played rugby for them until the age of 55.
Mr Coton served on the club committee for over 60 years and in 1949 he was one of the joint presenters of the ‘Bog Seat’ - an annual contest between Old Sils and Nuneaton Old Edwardians that, incidentally, takes place tomorrow.
Past president and friend Peter Thomas described the larger than life character as a ‘‘marvellous man’’.
He said: “He was a great friend but a man of incredible contradiction.
“He was a real typical masculine male - a 19-stone hooker who was as strong as an ox - a real classic rugby player.
“However, at the same time he was deeply gentle and could find the beauty in a rose as well as enjoying clattering the living daylights out of an opponent on the field. I loved him to bits.”
The former Solihull School pupil lived in the borough for his entire life and owned his own landscape gardening business.
Mr Coton never had children but friends said the youngsters he used to play rugby with looked up to him like a father.
Despite playing rugby for nearly 40 years, and earning an honorary membership from previous club North Warwickshire, Mr Coton was also well-known for his love of gardening.
“There wasn’t anything he didn’t know about plants, his knowledge was unbelievable,” added Mr Thomas.
Phil Green who deals with membership at the Copt Heath club said that he was a great man and said that it was a sad loss.
Hundreds are expected to turn up to the funeral service at Robin Hood Crematorium next Friday, at noon.
This will be followed by a memorial service in Solihull School Chapel at 1pm and afterwards at the Old Silhillians Clubhouse.