AN 82-YEAR-OLD marathon man passed away after “running the longest race of his life” as he battled for life in hospital.

The family of William Spark paid tribute to the “wee legend” following his death on September 24.

The former youth football coach died in Crosshouse Hospital surrounded by family, some of whom had flown in from England and Australia to be by his bedside.

Daughter Nicola said the father-of-four fought for every last breath. She said: “He put up a very good fight until the end.

“His two older brothers and daughters from England and Australia stayed by his side until his final breath.

“It was almost as if he was running the longest race of his life and took the biggest sigh as he crossed the finishing line.

“We praise the staff on HDU and 2D for their care and support.”

The Irvine stalwart was well known in the community as a bit of a sporting hero.

William was married to wife Glenda for 57 years until her death in 2017, and worked at worked at JP Dunlop, Hunterston Power Station and Volvo.

He was involved with youth football from the early 1970s right through to the 1980s, when he founded AC Irvine FC with brother Alex Spark

William’s coaching style and accolades were so impressive that Kilmarnock Football Club asked him to coach Kilmarnock Colts Under 14s. He was also coach to Winlinton Wolves youth teams.

William and Alex also founded the youth club at Castlepark Community Centre and organised sports and discos alongside loyal wives Glenda and Vicki, who ran the tuck shop.

William took up running long distance and marathons in his 50s and was sill competing into his mid-seventies, competing at competitions all over Scotland winning hundreds of medals and trophies.

He was also a member of Irvine Harriers, Troon Tortoises and Scottish Veteran Running and raised hundreds of pounds for charities. William was also a life long blood donor and even received award at a ceremony at Glasgow City Hall for his countless donations.

Most recently William enjoyed gardening and won awards for his garden in Harbour Street.

Daughter Nicola said: “We are deeply saddened with my dad’s passing. We now take comfort in all the happy memories he has left behind and hope that he is reunited with the love of his life, Glenda.”

He leaves daughters Elaine, Audrey, June, and Nicola as well as brothers Alex and Angus as well as eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren

Daughter Elaine added: “Dad was a wee legend. He always said to his daughters - always do your best - that’s the main thing. He was a devoted husband and inspirational father, grandfather and great grandfather. He will be sadly missed but forever fondly remembered.

William’s Funeral Service At Holmsford Crematorium Dreghorn Monday, October 7 at 11.30am.

All who wish to attend are welcome.