ONE of Oxford United’s longest serving players and a ‘perfect gentleman’ has died aged 80.

Cyril Beavon played in more than 450 competitive games for the U’s – among the highest number in the club’s history.

The sporting hero, who played as a full-back for the team for a decade, died of cancer on December 22.

Cyril Beavon was born in Barnsley on September 27, 1937.

He grew up in the South Yorkshire town before joining Wolverhampton Wanderers – more commonly known as Wolves – at the age of 16.

He signed with Wolves from its nursery side, Wath Wanderers.

While with the first team he played for the England youth team against Hungary at White Hart Lane in 1956.

It was during his time at Wolves that he met the woman who would become his wife for more than 61 years.

The father of Joan Beavon, formerly Shepherd, would take her to Wolves games, despite her ‘not being that keen’.

After seeing him play, the pair met at a dance at a YMCA club.

The two hit it off and were married about a year later, with Mr Beavon moving in with his new wife and her family.

He was signed to Headington United, which became Oxford United in 1960, in January, 1959, becoming manager Arthur Turner’s first signing.

He and Joan moved to Ash Grove in Headington and it was around this period that she gave birth to the couple's two sons, Stuart and Stephen.

The family would later move to Northway, Headington, where Mrs Beavon still lives.

Mr Beavon, who had his debut match with the club in September 1959, was with United through two Southern League titles and the club’s rise to the Second Division.

Mr Turner claimed that Mr Beavon could have played at a much higher level had he accepted an offer from Leeds United.

He served with the Yellows for 10 years and, despite playing as a fullback, scored 11 goals in his 461 competitive games.

After leaving Oxford, Mr Beavon joined Banbury United for one season and from there went on to manage Bicester Town.

He held a number of jobs while working as a footballer, including milkman and lorry driver.

As well as football, he enjoyed cricket.

His main hobbies were playing and watching sport, though more recently he got a great deal of enjoyment from playing with his three great granddaughters.

He is described by family and those who knew him as a ‘perfect gentleman’.

Football ran in the family, and Mr Beavon’s son Stuart, who played for Tottenham Hotspur, among other sides.

Stuart’s son, Stuart Beavon Jr, is currently a striker for Coventry City.

He is survived by his wife Joan, his sons Stuart and Stephen, his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Wolvercote Cemetery, at 11.30am on Wednesday January 24.