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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 18:07 GMT
Fans mourn death of a 'gentleman'
By Mark McGregor
BBC News in Sheffield

Friends and former colleagues pay tribute to Emlyn Hughes

They came in their hundreds to stand in the rain and mourn the passing of a football legend.

Emlyn Hughes, 57, died at his home in Sheffield on 9 November 2004.

Football fans and non-supporters alike gathered outside Sheffield Cathedral on Wednesday in honour of the former Liverpool and England captain.

They came to pay their last respects to a man who was an inspiration on the pitch but also earned admiration through his charity work.

With the Liverpool Football Club flag fluttering at half mast above the cathedral, there were tears and silent contemplation as friends, family, supporters and admirers prepared to say goodbye.

There were no airs and graces with him - he was so friendly. A gentleman
Richard McGloin, from Sheffield
And as the coffin emerged draped in a Liverpool shirt, there was no doubting the swell of emotion that had greeted his passing.

"He was one of the greatest," said Kenny Bushnell, a Liverpool fan whose fondest memories of the former captain involved FA Cup finals.

"The first final I got to watch Liverpool in was 1974 when we beat Newcastle 3-0.

"I will always remember the song at the end 'Nice One Emlyn' where everybody just danced up and down singing and he had a big smile on his face."

Although he had made Sheffield his home, Hughes was synonymous with the Anfield club and it was a theme throughout the service.

"You can take the man out of Liverpool, but you can't take Liverpool out the man," boomed the familiar deep voice of John Toshack from within the cathedral.

"And that was certainly true of Emlyn Hughes," he added.

I'm here basically just to pay respects to the man because he was a great man
Ken Sayle, from Sheffield
The Wales manager led the tributes to his former Anfield colleague, telling the congregation that as room mates they shared some of the best days of their lives.

With 1,700 people packing the pews inside the cathedral, many others braved the rain and cold on a main road perilously close to traffic to listen to the service from outside.

Two of Hughes' favourite hymns, "Amazing Grace" and "I Vow to Thee My Country", were played at the service.

But it was the choir's rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" as the service ended which really set the spine tingling.

Kevin Brannigan, a Liverpool fan from Sheffield, said: "I used to go to Anfield as a kid to watch him and Toshack.

"He was just such a gentleman. That's what he was, a gentleman. I don't think he even got a red card, did he?"

Emlyn Hughes
Emlyn Hughes was hailed as a 'gentleman' by fans in attendance
Although there were many fans in attendance, others had turned out to pay their respects to a man admired for his TV and charity work.

"The fact he gave his time to charities spoke volumes for the man I think. I feel very sorry and sadness for the family," said Ken Sayle, from Sheffield.

"I'm here basically just to pay respects to the man because he was a great man."

During the service, tributes were paid to Hughes' infectious enthusiasm and the "unaffected ordinariness" that made him so special.

"Everyone felt like they knew him," the Dean of Sheffield Peter Bradley, said.

Richard McGloin, a Sheffield United fan, echoed the sentiment.

"I was fortunate to meet him a few times and he always treated me as a friend," he told the BBC.

"There were no airs and graces with him - he was so friendly. A gentleman."




SEE ALSO:
Football bids farewell to Hughes
17 Nov 04 |  Football


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