TRIBUTES have been paid to a lifelong Hartlepool United supporter who died just before he was due to watch the team he loved.
Brian Filby, 72, passed away after suffering a massive heart attack at Victoria Park ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Notts County.
Family, friends, club chiefs and supporters’ groups have all paid tribute to Brian, who has been described as a “Pools supporter through and through” who followed his team home and away.
His devastated wife, Maureen, 61, said Brian was a “lovely man” who always looked on the bright side of life and who loved his football.
Maureen had spoken to Brian on the phone just minutes before he collapsed, and said he was as happy as ever and had not been suffering from any illness in the lead up to his sudden death.
“He was absolutely fine, we had the grandchildren round for tea, he dropped them off then went to the match,” she said.
“I spoke to him and he was absolutely fine.
“The next thing I know the police are at the door telling me what had happened.
“I didn’t sleep a wink on Tuesday night, I don’t think it’s hit me yet, I just can’t believe he’s gone.”
The dad of two and step-dad of two, Brian, was born in Hartlepool and lived in the Elwick Road area of the town for the majority of his life.
He moved to Billingham around 10 years ago after he married his second wife Maureen.
Brian has also left behind six grandchildren, Natasha, 18, Christian, 15, Jennifer, 11, Ella, 10, Dominik, five and two-year-old Theo.
Maureen said the retired electrical engineer “loved his grandchildren to bits” and even took them along to the match when he could.
He was with his grandchildren during one of his proudest moments as a Pools fan when he roared the team on at Cardiff in the play-off final in 2005.
One of his daughters, Samantha, 44, said: “My dad will be missed by everyone who knew him.
“We don’t normally see him on a Tuesday, but we were there for tea this week.
“As we left Dominik gave him two huge cuddles.
“It’s absolutely awful to think we will never see him again.”
Retired factory worker Maureen added: “Nobody would have a bad word to say about Brian.
“He always had a story to tell, always had a smile on his face and would do anything to help people out.
“He did all sorts of fundraising for the club and used to organise away trips.”
Hartlepool United also paid tribute to Brian.
A spokesman for the club said: “Mr Brian Filby had been a long-time supporter of the club and had enjoyed watching his beloved Pools for over 50 years.
“On behalf of all Pools fans, the club would like to pass on sincerest condolences to Brian’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Neil Appleyard, chairman of the Hartlepool United Disabled Supporters Association, said: “It’s a terrible shame to hear about Brian.
“Everyone at the Disabled Supporters Association offers their deepest condolences.”