Tributes have been paid after the death of ex-Darlington, Gateshead, York player Gary Pearson aged 45 is confirmed on Friday morning.
The North East born footballer had been appointed manager of Billingham Town just last month after previously enjoying a lengthy spell in charge at Ryhope Colliery Welfare.
Pearson, from Seaham, was a tough-tackling midfielder, and went on to play for many clubs in the North East non league scene.
After starting out in the youth ranks at Sheffield United during the 1990s, Pearson played most of his football below the EFL for the likes of Gateshead, Spennymoor United, Whitby and Durham before getting a move into the Football League with Darlington in 2001.
The club is sad to learn of the passing of our former player Gary Pearson
Midfielder/defender Gary,45, signed for us in 2001, and went to make 52 appearances for us in three seasons, scoring three times.
— Darlington FC (@Official_Darlo) July 1, 2022
He spent much of his Quakers spell playing in midfield and made 52 appearances, under managers Tommy Taylor and Mick Tait, before his time at the club ended after three seasons.
His netted in his first home league game, a free-kick from 25 yards in a 3-2 home victory over Luton Town in January 2002 and was named in Darlo’s final match at Feethams in May 2003 against Leyton Orient.
After leaving Darlington in 2004, Pearson played for York, Bedlington, Durham City, Spennymoor Town and Crook, becoming player/manager at Crook in 2011 and guided the latter to promotion from Northern League Division Two in 2013.
He moved to Ryhope Colliery Welfare a year later, where he was their boss for 8 years and last season saw success, along with Craig Hughes and David Pounder, helped Ryhope CW to a club record high of 5th place in Division One and victory in the Durham Challenge Cup final. But the club resigned from the Northern League a few weeks after.
He was appointed boss on May 29 at Billingham Town, his club saying on Friday after learning of his death: “All at Billingham Town FC are deeply saddened by the passing of First Team Manager `Gary Pearson. All though Gary has not been a member of the Billingham Town family for long, his personality had rubbed off and he leaves a lasting impression on us all. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gary’s family and friends at this time. We are also thinking of all at his former clubs and those he worked with for many years. RIP”
–1995 – Sheffield United
1995–1996 – Sheffield United
1996 – Stalybridge Celtic
1996–1998 – Gateshead
1999 – Seaham Red Star
1999–2000 – Whitby Town
2000–2001 – Durham City
2001 – Whitby Town
2001–2004 – Darlington
2004–2005 – York City
2005–2006 – Durham City
2006 – Bedlington Terriers
2006 – Gateshead
2006 – Horden Colliery Welfare
2006–2009 – Sunderland Nissan
2009–2011 – Spennymoor Town
2011 – Crook Town
2011–2014 – Crook Town
2014–2022 – Ryhope Colliery Welfare
2022 – Billingham Town
Tributes continued to be paid by fans, clubs and players after the death of ex-Darlington, Gateshead, York player Gary Pearson aged 45 is confirmed…
Stephen Thompson said: “Absolutely devastated. One of the very best. A proper bloke, a lunatic and an absolute gent. RIP Gaz. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Ian Clark: “My thoughts go out to all Gaz’s family and close friends, he was an absolute legend. He was a top class team mate at Darlington, playing pranks, having a laugh but no chance go 50/50, he would smash you. RIP Gaz.”
Clark Keltie: “He would put you in your place when needed, but was right by your side when called upon. It was an honour to be your team mate, Gaz. Rest easy my friend.”
Neil Wainwright: “RIP Gaz, once a team mate, always a team mate.”
Barry Conlon: “Rest in peace Gaz. What a great lad and team mate.”
Ian Davison: “The heart of a lion and one of the best men in football I’ve ever met! I had the honour to play alongside and managed me as well. I’m absolutely gutted and this life is so cruel to take such a fantastic man! My thoughts are with his family at this horrific time. RIP Gaz.”
Amar Purewal: “RIP Gaz. What an absolute great bloke. Thoughts are with his friends and family.”
Darren Richardson: “Awful news about Gaz. Always top crack. RIP mate.”
Jason Jones: “Played against him (hard as nails) managed against him (born winner). The world is a worst place without him, top man, always had time for people and would give advice. RIP Gaz, you will be missed by many.”
Ian Watson, currently Gateshead assistant manager, and former teammate, recalled Pearson winning the FA Sunday Cup final in 2008 with Sunday league side Hetton Lyons against Coundon Cons – he scored the winner with a penalty seven minutes remaining: “He was not the designated pen taker that day, nor a pen taker, but stepped up and scored. We asked him that night why he took the pen. ‘I can handle myself missing, water off a ducks back, I couldn’t handle one of the lads missing.’ “A short story to give you an insight of the man.”
@LiamWarcup: I never knew him, but the amount of love, respect and admiration for Gary Pearson on my timeline right now speaks absolute volumes of him. From what I’ve read, the world could do with more people like him. Rest In Peace.
@Davie42782790: R.I.P Gaz, great player, great person, will be a huge miss. Thoughts go to his family. 💔
@Stevecathutch: Very sad news. He loved the game and was well respected in the local non league scene, fondly remembered by Darlo fans. Condolences to his family and friends and to Billingham Town. #RIPGaryPearson
Gary Pearson RIP
— Billingham Town FC (@BillinghamTown) July 1, 2022
Just been informed this person who dives on Jamie has passed on today, had heart attack last Saturday 🙏 for his family and friends he was such a lovely bloke who made it happen for Jamie to be mascot when they won this 🏆 💔😪😪 pic.twitter.com/QMAx9LaDKy
— enjoying life again 😁 (@Knighty681) June 30, 2022
We are saddened to learn of the passing of former player Gary Pearson at the young age of 45.
Gary made his Red Star debut on the 06/07/1999, he played 11 times for The Club scoring 2 goals.
— Seaham Red Star FC (@SeahamRedStar) July 1, 2022
It is with most heart felt sadness and devastation to announce that former player and manager, Gary ‘Gaz’ Pearson has sadly passed away. From all associated at Ryhope CW, we pass our condolences to all the friends and family. RIP Gaz 💔 pic.twitter.com/MrM1b5g7AJ
— Ryhope CW (@RyhopeCW) July 1, 2022
Everyone at the club were shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of former player Gary Pearson yesterday.
Gary played for both United and Town before forging out a successful career in management.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/fFOxBMDPXp
— Spennymoor Town FC (@SpennymoorTown) July 1, 2022