Tributes have been paid to a life-long Pools fan who only missed three games in 61 years.
The funeral cortege of a stalwart fan, Norman Watson, took him past his beloved Victoria Park ground for the last time.
Norman went to his first Hartlepool United match at the age of just nine and only missed three games in 61 years.
The 70-year-old, who was a well-known face at the ground and the supporters’ pub, The Corner Flag, died suddenly last week.
Pools bosses say they are “extremely saddened” at Mr Watson’s death and said their thoughts are with his family and friends.
His family said Norman, who was also a well known drummer in the town in his younger days once sharing the stage with Genesis, was so devoted to Pools they wanted to make visiting the ground part of his final send off.
Staff at the ground lined the entrance to pay their respects as the cortege passed by heading for Hartlepool Cremetorium.
It came just hours before Pools took on Salford City in the FA Cup second round which was screened to millions on BBC TV.
Norman’s granddaughter, Lauren Watts, said: “It was such a huge shock losing him, he was the head of the family and will be terrbily missed.
“After my nan, Pools was his greatest love. My grandad was such a humble and modest man he would never have said how many friends he had, so we were stunned when we saw the hundreds of tribute messages on Facebook.”
Norman, a former Hartlepool Borough Council rents manager, collapsed at his town centre home and was found to be suffering from very advanced terminal cancer and died a few days later surrounded by his family.
He leaves behind his wife Dot, 78, three step-children, eight grandchildren and two-great-grandchildren.
Members of his family donned their Pools scarves for the funeral and Norman’s coffin was draped in the Hartlepool United flag.
Lauren added: “We just really wanted to do him proud.”
A spokesman for the club said: “Everyone at the football club has been extremely saddened to hear of the death of Norman and our thoughts are with his family and friends.
“He was very well known among the supporters and at the Corner Flag, it is really sad news.”