Warm tributes were paid to respected former footballer turned physio Tommy Johnson at his funeral.
Tommy, who passed away aged 92 on December 9, was remembered as a true gentleman and Good Samaritan for his willingness to always help others.
A moving eulogy was given by his beloved grandson Andrew Johnson.
He remembered being taken to Hartlepool United as a child while Tommy worked as the club physio and helping him in his duties.
He was at the club during the legendary Brian Clough years and treated scores of people and even animals.
Andrew said: “That physio room saw an awful lot of sportsmen as he would be there every day treating people from all sports; rugby players, cricketers, amateur footballers and even greyhounds who had obviously taken a nasty knock at the track. “His advice never changed, ‘get yourself down the beach son and get yourself in the sea’.”
Before becoming a physio, Tommy had been a professional footballer since turning professional at 18 with Middlesbrough.
He returned to the club as its physio after 25 years with Hartlepool.
Andrew said it was the hardest decision of Tommy’s life, but he agreed and was part of Middlesbrough’s ups and downs for the next 11 years until he retired.
Tommy was devoted to the love of his life Evelyn whom he married in 1949. They had one child Graham.
The service at All Saints Church Stranton, where Tommy was a member, heard how he was a much loved father, brother, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend to many.
Andrew added: “I wish that everyone here could life a life as full as the one my grandad lived.” Hartlepool Royal Air Force Association lowered their standard outside the church.
Tommy spent his National Service with the RAF, but spent much of his service playing football.
After retiring, Tommy went on to play golf with his mates at Seaton Carew Golf Club, bowls and at 90 would watch his great-grandchildren playing football on a weekend.
And he would continue to provide physio to people who knocked on his door.
Andrew described Tommy as a ‘true gentleman’ adding: “He was simply my hero.
“Our hearts will be empty without him and we will always, always miss him.”