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Tributes paid following death of United's first pro, Jack Casley

Oxford Mail: Firoz Kassam (left), Oxford United’s chairman in 2002, presents Jack Casley with a painting of the old Manor Ground to mark his services to the club Firoz Kassam (left), Oxford United’s chairman in 2002, presents Jack Casley with a painting of the old Manor Ground to mark his services to the club

Former Oxford United coach Ray Graydon led the tributes to the club’s first professional player, Jack Casley, who has died aged 88.

It is his work as United’s chief scout for which Casley will be best remembered.

Casley, who lived in Wytham Street, Oxford, joined Headington United, as Oxford United were then known, from his home town club Torquay United in July 1949, becoming their first full-time professional.

Casley made his debut in goal against Colchester United, before switching to centre forward, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Guildford.

After being given a free transfer in 1951, he retained strong links with the club, while also serving on Oxford City’s committee.

He later worked at the Cowley car plant and also played for Banbury Spencer, Chippenham and Pressed Steel.

Following his resignation from City’s committee in 1969, he was appointed chief scout at the Manor Ground and was instrumental in bringing local youngsters like Kevin Brock and Andy Thomas to United.

Casley also travelled thousands of miles with Graydon, identifying talents such as John Aldridge, Ray Houghton and Trevor Hebberd.

He retired in 2002 after 53 years’ service to the club, for which he was presented with a special award by the then chairman Firoz Kassam.

Graydon, 66, who made 47 appearances for the U’s before joining the coaching staff in 1981, said: “He has a fantastic family and I feel very sad he has passed away.

“Jack was not only good company, he was also a good sounding board.

“He had yellow and blue running through his veins.”

Former U’s winger and now business development manager Peter Rhoades-Brown added: “Jack was a big part of the club for over 50 years.

“He had such a knowledge of the game and liked nothing better than to talk football with us.

“Most weekends, he was out there watching junior games in the morning and then off to another game in the afternoon.

“He never tired of it or lost his enthusiasm.

“He has fought bravely against illness in the last couple of years and will be missed by us all.”

Casley leaves a widow, Vi, and a daughter, Joy Sherlock.

Details of the funeral have yet to be announced.

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