RONNIE Blackman, Reading FC's all-time leading goalscorer, has died.

The former talismanic striker, who set records throughout his career, passed away yesterday, aged 90.

It was manager Ted Drake who brought Blackman to Reading from Gosport Borough in 1947, initially as a part-time player.

Drake signed him for a paltry fee of £10 plus the promise of a friendly match against his former non-league side.

It proved an incredibly shrewd piece of business as Blackman became a regular in the first team the following year and went on to become the most prolific striker in the club's history.

His finest season was in 1951-52 when he netted a staggering 39 league goals to set a club record which stands to this day.

Reading scored 112 league goals during that campaign which remains another club record, and Blackman was the last living member of that squad.

Blackman ended up with 158 league goals between 1948-55 in all, the most ever scored by a Reading player.

He was exceptional in the air and of those 158 goals, 96 were headers.

He also scored five goals in a game on two occasions, against Brighton in 1950 and Southend in 1952.

He left Elm Park in 1955 and moved to Nottingham Forest and then Ipswich before joining non-league Tonbridge.

But a shoulder injury ended his playing career and he went on to become a telecoms engineer until his retirement.

Cosham-born Blackman lived the latter years of his life in the Fareham area, though he remained a regular guest at Reading FC.

Royals historian David Downs said: “Ronnie was a real tough competitor on the field but a real gentleman off it.

“He would regularly attend meetings of the ex-players' association and was liked by everyone.

“He truly was a Reading Football Club legend.”

Blackman leaves behind wife, Iris, and daughter, Sue. His funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.