FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to former teacher and football fanatic John Hurst, who died of a heart attack on Saturday, hours after watching his beloved Exeter City.

John, 69, originally from Exeter, worked at Headlands School between 1973 and 1975, was Kingsdown School’s head of English from 1975 until 1984 and worked at New College up to his retirement in 2000.

The father of three, who lived in Milbourne, near Malmesbury, was struck down just after seeing Exeter City beat Scunthorpe United 2-0 at St James’ Park.

New College teacher Jim Goddard said: “I worked with John from 1984 and without doubt he was the best teacher I ever knew. Working alongside him taught me more than I could ever have learnt at a college teaching session or university.”

Peter Field, another former New College colleague, said: “I really respected his views on education and I felt we worked together in a great working atmosphere and he was very supportive to me.”

John studied English and history at Lampeter University where he met future wife Daph. They married in 1970 and had three children – Kathy, 37, Suzy, 33, and Chris, 31. Daph died in 2010 and after his retirement John worked with his son building houses.

His children said: “Alongside our mum, dad created a warm and loving home filled with creative energy, humour, stories and Springsteen. He passed on his passion for sport to all three of us.

“He was committed to the importance of education, to the beauty of English literature and to his family. We loved him very much and will carry him with us forever.”

He was also grandfather to Dylan, six, Carys, five, and Seren, one.

One of John’s great passions was football. He represented the University of Wales, coached football teams at the schools where he taught and helped set up Swindon Town Football Club Youth Academy. The side had links with New College who also shared a similar relationship with Forest Green Rovers.

Clive Maguire, Swindon Town Football in the Community joint trust manager, said: “I was a former pupil at Kingsdown and was coached by John and then we went to work with Town’s youth academy together winning the South West cup in 1996.

“That was a great feeling to have achieved that working with John, he was a terrific mentor and I could not have hoped to have worked with a better person.”