Barnsley Football Club is devastated to learn of the passing of the legendary Eric Winstanley.
Eric Winstanley is a name that will forever be synonymous with Barnsley Football Club.
As a Club, today's news hit hard.
It's impossible to get across just how impactful one man can be on this Club we all adore. But we will try our best, for Eric.
An outstanding player in the youth system, Winstanley helped the Barnsley Boys win the Yorkshire Shield of 1960 before going on to represent England at youth level. In 1962/63, Eric would - at just 17-years-old - make his Reds debut and go on to play an incredible 52 games across all competitions in his first year in the first team.
He was handed the captaincy at just 19, becoming the youngest player to lead the Club, a record he retains to this very day.
Rightly heralded as one of the best young centre halves in the country, Eric suffered a knee injury that would trouble him for the rest of his career, but it didn't stop him playing 461 times for his hometown Club over a decade of football.
A goalscoring defender is priceless and with 39 to his name, he's the highest scoring defender in the Club's history. He produced a magical performance against Watford in 1969 when, with the Reds 2-0 behind at Oakwell, he went up front and scored an outstanding, match-winning hat-trick.
A promotion winner as a player (1967/68), Eric's success didn't end with his playing days.
After tremendous work coaching the youth team at Oakwell, in the 1990's Winstanley played a pivotal role as part of the first team staff, famously assisting Danny Wilson in leading the 1996/97 squad to the Premier League for the first time in the club's history, using a number of young, local lads he'd brought through at youth level.
Regularly at Oakwell in his later years, Eric was invited to the Club's inaugural Oakwell Hall Of Fame ceremony in 2018 and received the Local Hero Award for his contribution to the local community.
He was this summer to be inducted into the Oakwell Hall Of Fame outright, and it saddens us that this will now have to take place posthumously.
For those of us who were honoured to know this great man, today is hard. Typing this isn't easy and as a Club our thoughts are with his partner and the fantastic Winstanley family at this difficult time.
We are in dialogue with the relevant bodies as we look to pay our respects to Eric Winstanley in the best way possible this Saturday when we take on Swansea City in the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final second leg at Liberty Stadium.
Go well, Winnie.
Once A Red, Always A Red