FORMER Blackpool FC players across the Fylde coast have been paying tribute to one of the town’s footballing greats who died yesterday
Roy Gratrix, a member of Blackpool’s footballing side of the 50’s and 60’s, passed away at Caxton Lodge rest home on Caxton Avenue, Bispham, aged 70.
In his later years, the famous centre half had contracted Alzheimer’s disease, which his family believe was caused by him heading the heavy leather footballs of his era.
Roy, who has three daughters, Fiona, Gabriella and Rebecca, as well as a son from his previous marriage, made 400 league appearances for Blackpool.
After retiring from football, Roy became a milkman in Poulton and, along with his wife, Stella, ran a newsagents in Preston.
The couple lived at their home in Bryan Road, Blackpool, until he became ill eight years ago.
His family have invited everyone who knew Roy, whether as a player or a fan, to come to the funeral service at St John’s Church on Monday.
His daughter Rebecca said: “We would like to see anyone who knew Roy and who wants to celebrate his life at the service. They are all very welcome.”
Former Blackpool teammate Bill Perry, who scored Blackpool’s FA Cup winning goal in 1953, paid tribute to his colleague.
He said: “Roy was a great player and a real character, he always had us laughing.”
Bill and Roy played in the same team for five years. They were neighbours in the days the club owned houses on Henson Avenue for the players.
Bill added: “My thoughts go out to his family at this time. Roy’s illness was a very sad case indeed.”
Jimmy Armfield said: “Roy was one of the fastest centre halves I have ever seen.
“He had a real natural ability. He was one of the few players who could take free kicks on the left with his left foot and on the right with his right foot. That, with his speed, made him a great player.
“He was a very straight forward man and a truly great player.”
Blackpool football historian Gerry Wolstenholme, said Roy had been one of his favourite players at the club. He said: “What a tragedy. It is a very sad day.
“Roy was a great player, really tremendous and one of my idols, a star centre half. I always thought he should have played for England but he never graduated to the full side, only the B team.”
He added: “Roy always had time for the fans and would always chat with them. He was a really nice bloke. It is a terrible loss to everyone, especially his family.”
The funeral is to be held at St John’s Church, on Church Street, on Monday at 10am followed by cremation at Carleton Crematorium.