Warm tributes were paid at the funeral of a former Blackpool FC goalkeeper described as a ‘larger than life’ character.
Hundreds of people turned out yesterday to pay their respects to former Seasiders keeper Iain Hesford, who died earlier this month aged 54 from a suspected heart attack.
Pool legends, including Jimmy Armfield, attended the emotional service at Lytham Crematorium led by the Rev Alan Byrom.
Rev Byrom said: “We feel grief and pain at his passing.
“He was larger than life with a great sense of humour.
“One such example was when a fan threw a pie through the air and Iain picked it up and ate it.
“He was a gentle giant who was a rock to those closest to him. He has left a lasting impression on those who knew him. He was loved by so many and will be missed by so many.”
Entering the crematorium to the song Time To Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli, many mourners stood to pay their respects to the Blackpool keeper who made more than 200 appearances for the club.
Born in Zambia, he soon moved to the Fylde coast with his family, living in Cleveleys and attending Millfield School in Thornton.
At the age of 17 he signed apprentice terms to play for Blackpool, in doing so becoming the youngest goalkeeper to play for the club in a Football League match. His talent caught the eye at international level, winning seven caps for England U21s.
He played at Bloomfield Road between 1977 and 1983 before joining Sheffield Wednesday.
He went on to play for Fulham, Notts County, Sunderland, Hull City and Maidstone.
Before Blackpool’s match against Bolton Wanderers earlier this month a wreath was laid by a group of ex-players.
Speaking yesterday, Jimmy Armfield paid tribute to a player he coached for a short spell in 1979.
He said: “He was the youngest person to play in goal for Blackpool – at the time a big ask. He was very strong and he always had a great sense of humour.
“It (his death) happened so sudden. He was well-liked and a very popular player.”