HARTLEPOOL United stars of today lined up to pay a final tribute to Pools legend Ken Johnson.
Team boss Neale Cooper, coach Micky Barron and players Ritchie Humphreys, Adam Boyd and Antony Sweeney were among more than 200 mourners who turned out to say a final farewell to the much-loved player yesterday.
It was standing room only inside Holy Trinity Church in Seaton Carew as family, friends and fans came together to celebrate Ken’s life.
Ken won over legions of fans as Pools’ record goalscorer and remained a loyal servant of the club, returning there after he retired as part of the hospitality set-up.
He died on December 29, aged 80.
The poignant service, led by Reverend Captain Paul Allinson, was held in the same church that Ken was baptised and married in.
During the service, he was remembered fondly as a modest man whose top priority was always his family – wife Olwen, 77, and daughter Julie, 51.
Sam Mosley, president of Hartlepool Rotary Club, paid a touching and light-hearted tribute to his long-time friend.
He told how Ken (pictured left),who was born in Seaton Carew, loved to talk about Pools whenever they met – but was always more keen to praise the people he played with than himself.
Sam said: “He loved what he did and would be delighted to see the representatives from Pools here today.
“Ken grew up a Seaton boy, but became a Hartlepool man. He will be remembered as one of Hartlepool’s favourite sons.
“If there is a secret to a happy life, then Ken had the magic ingredients.
“He just totally appreciated what he had, and was happy to share his joy with others.”
Ken was also well known in the town through his fish and chip shop on the Fens estate which he ran with Olwen for more than 30 years after hanging up his shooting boots.
And he raised thousands of pounds through his tireless fundraising, including large sums for the Oddfellows charity.
In his eulogy, Rev Capt Allinson said Ken “remained a gentleman all his life”.
Rev Capt Allinson said: “He was a hero to many in Hartlepool, and much loved by all around him.
“Ken filled hearts, minds and stomachs with a great deal of good things.”
A heartfelt poem by Ken’s daughter Julie Greenhow was also read during the service, which was also attended by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and Hartlepool United chief executive Russ Green.
The funeral party then made its way to Stranton Grange Crematorium before being invited back to Pools Victoria Park ground for refreshments.
A card on a floral tribute from the club said simply: “King Kenny. HUFC Legend. RIP.”