A man from Croydon has devastatingly died of Covid just under two weeks before his 100th birthday.

Reginald Dudley lost his battle with coronavirus and passed away on November 30 – just nine days shy of his birthday which would have been today (December 9).

Your Local Guardian:

The-father-of-two and granddaughter-of-one had a “great love” for football throughout his life and in his younger days, Reginald played for Crystal Palace Juniors as a goalkeeper.

However, this soon came to a pause when he was called for National Service.

Reginald’s son Graham, 58, has spoken with Your Local Guardian in his honour – describing him as a “gentle, private man”.

Graham said the process of losing his father has been “really charged with emotion” but himself and the family are “holding on”.

He said: “My dad was quite a private and shy man.

“He kept himself to himself and had a small circle of friends.

“His real love was football.

“My dad found the service found quite challenging, and when he returned, the only place he could get peace and quiet was on the football pitch.

“My mum told me that when he was younger, he used to go to the local football pitch and count the number of people each side.

“If they were short of a member he would go and ask if he could play with them- he would always carry his football boots anywhere he went.

“He found himself at home when he was playing on the football pitch.”

Your Local Guardian:

Reginald’s daughter is called Wendy, and he loved his granddaughter Amelia “dearly” and was “very close to her”.

Graham described his father to be quite “promiscuous” when he was younger and shared a series of pranks the trickster took part in.

Graham said: “When my father was in Sunday school, he put an alarm clock in the cupboard, which he deliberately set to go off in prayers.

“One of my aunts told me when he was in his late twenties/early thirties he was a bit of a character.

“He once deliberately got his head stuck on a bridge and they had to call the fire brigade- there was traffic everywhere.”

Graham said that he wasn’t “extremely close” with his dad, but always “enjoyed listening to his tales of life”.

Graham added: “Myself and my dad were never close, but that was because of the type of person he was.

“He always taught me to be independent and have self-reliance.

“Last year I survived a stroke and things have been difficult for me- as usually I am self-reliant, just like my father was.”

Reginald was born in Teddington and lived there until he was nine.

Your Local Guardian:

Then, Reginald’s dad William took a job as a steam engine driver in Croydon so the whole family had to relocate.

Graham said: “When we would visit our grandparents as a child, my sister and I would dress up extremely fancy.

“When we walked through the door, my grandfather would say ‘you’re both dressed up like the cat’s pyjamas.’”

Reginald and his wife Joy met around the age of 16, and it would have been a celebration of their 67 years of marriage on February 1.

Your Local Guardian:

Graham added that Reginald was a “kind and gentle man who loved animals”.

He said: “My father loved football, animals and jumble sales.

“He was an extremely private and gentle man, who would say hello to his friends walking along the street.

“He had his nicknames such as ‘cycle clips ‘and ‘Reg’, but to me and my sister, he was just Dad.

“It is such a kind and sensitive idea to have this published on what would have been his 100th birthday.”