Tributes have come in this week following the death of a local footballer described as one of the best players of his generation.
John Dignam, 61, died on Monday at his Lynn home following a five-year battle bravely fought against the escalating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.
He leaves a widow, Teresa, son Shaun, daughter Sarah and two grandchildren.
Born in Crimplesham, he first played football for his school side in Downham and then progressed to being a successful left back in two spells with Downham Town, including as its captain, Lynn Reserves, Lynn first team, where he played in the Southern League, former Lynn Sunday side Hawks Napier, where he was a key player in its league winning side, and Wimbotsham.
Former Hawks Napier manager and retired Lynn News editor Malcolm Powell said: “John was certainly one of the best defenders around here of his generation.
“He was so fast, almost like a wing back and was as good as many an attacker speeding down the wing.”
Another former Lynn, Downham and Hawks Napier player Peter Bush said: “He was one of the best fullbacks I ever played with. He never had to lunge in to make a tackle as he was that quick and a very special fullback.”
Nigel Richards, who had played with John in the same teams from their school days, told the Lynn News: “He was a fine player and a great person and personality with a wonderful dry sense of humour. He was only booked once in his career and I think that was in his final game.”
Among his proudest achievements were 1986 when he was chosen to represent the Peterborough League in their match against Northants in the Sunday Football Alliance and in 1987 when he captained Downham as they won the Peterborough Senior Cup.
One big disappointment however was that it was only because of a mix-up he never got the chance to play for Norfolk Schoolboys.
Praise for John appeared in a Downham Town player profile in an FA Vase match programme in November 1986.
In the notes, compiled by Colin Dye, it said: “John is the quiet father figure and skipper of the Downham side.
“Although he will be 31 next month John is still as fit and as quick as any of the younger players around him.
“All regular supporters will surely agree that John is an excellent club player and a true sportsman in every respect.”
In his working career John first worked for Bexwell Tractors after school and then moved to National Tyres until 1981. He then worked for Fosett and Thorne Tyres before moving to Page & Bird Tyres from where he retired in through his ill health in 2011.
A funeral service will be held at Mintlyn Crematorium on Thursday (May 25) at 9.15am. All are welcomed.