A footballer who was expecting to become a dad for the second time has died after a battle against penis cancer.
Dale Clarke, who played for Forest Hill FC, passed away at the weekend aged just 26
The keen sportsman had part of his penis removed and was convinced he would soon lose it altogether following the shock diagnosis in July 2017 after discovering a lump.
He underwent five operations, nine rounds of radiotherapy and two rounds of chemotherapy – but the tumours keep coming back.
Dale earlier this year revealed he no longer had any sensation in his penis and said: “They could cut it all off and it wouldn’t bother me, that’s how far past it I am.”
He leaves behind heartbroken fiancee Paige King, 24, six-year-old son Cole and an unborn baby daughter who is due next month.
Dale and Paige announced they were expecting their second child and held an engagement party in April as they planned their dream Las Vegas wedding.
But their dreams were shattered when Dale’s cancer became more aggressive and he was confined to a hospice bed.
Coach Tim Hutchinson – who worked with Dale for a decade – has led the tributes to a “lovable scoundrel” who lived life to the full, according to Chronicle Live .
He said: “Dale was a really funny lad and a lovely kid. He would do anything for you.
“He was a larger than life character. He would give you his last penny if you needed it.
“Dale was such a lovable scoundrel. He broke every rule we made but then he’d give you a cuddle and say sorry. To me, he was a mate as well.
He put a lot into his life in the short time he was with us. That’s why it’s been such a devastating year, the last week has just been awful.”
Newcastle United fan Dale was born and raised in North Tyneside, and enjoyed a close bond with mam Kerry, dad Dave, brother Adam, 24, and sister Nikki, 28.
Tim, 55, who works as a senior development officer at Forest Hall FC, said: “Dale was a designer kid – he loves his clothes and trainers. He would not want anything without a label.
“He used to have the worst hairstyles in the world, and it was always a different colour. We always used to ask him what he was thinking.
“He was similar in stature with Becks and wonderful technically with the ball at his feet. He was immensely popular in the changing room.
“Dale always used to have the brightest boots too. He was known as Mr Stone Island.”
But Dale’s lifestyle of football, socialising and spending time with Paige and his son was thrown into turmoil by his rare cancer diagnosis.
The team emerged victorious in the Bill Gardner Cup with a 2-1 win over Hazlerigg, and coach Tim struggled to put into words the emotion which spilled over following the final whistle.
He said: “I’ve never experienced anything like it. The lads wanted to play and win it for Dale, and after the match I’ve never seen emotion like it.
“It’s difficult to put into words, everybody was saying it was for Dale. It has not sunk in at all.
“I think for the older guys maybe it has, but for the younger ones I don’t think that will happen until after the funeral because it’s still so raw.”
A funeral date has not yet been set, and a JustGiving page to support Dale’s fiancee and children has already received more than £6,500.
Tim said: “The family don’t want anyone turning up in black on the day. It will be a sad occasion, but they want people to celebrate his life.”