Some terribly sad news today as the legendary fitness coach Steve Black, who spent a year on Fulham’s backroom staff, has passed away. Black – better known for his role as England rugby World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson’s mentor – was a key part of Kevin Keegan’s coaching team during his time in charge at Newcastle and transitioned between football and rugby throughout an innovative and highly successful career. Keegan brought Black to Fulham just before he took the England job and he was credited with boosting the side’s fitness as they raced to the Second Division title and knocked Premier League leaders Aston Villa out of the FA Cup.
A former bouncer, Black had two lengthy spells with Newcastle Falcons, who will hold a minute’s silence in his honour ahead of this afternoon’s Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs, and also worked with England, the British and Irish Lions and Wales, where he was a key part of the national side’s resurgence under Graham Henry. He spent time on the staff at Sunderland, QPR and yesterday’s opponents Huddersfield Town. His autobiography, entitled Blackie, remains one of most engaging accounts of life in modern professional sports.