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Alan MacKay reports
"Gordon Brown's family wanted people to dress colourfully"
 real 56k

Monday, 26 March, 2001, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
Colourful tributes to a rugby legend
funeral coffin
The world of sport turned out to pay its last respects
The funeral has taken place of the former Scotland and British Lions rugby legend Gordon Brown.

Hundreds turned out in kilts and rugby colours at a service for which his family expressed their wish that the colour black should not be worn.

Famous names from the world of sport joined the mourners at the funeral of Mr Brown, who died at the age of 53 after a long battle against cancer.

Three generations of rugby players attended the funeral at the Old Parish Church in Mr Brown's home town of Troon, in Ayrshire.

Scottish players including Gavin and Scott Hastings, Sean Lineen, Gordon Bulloch and Andy Nicol were joined by Welsh legends Cliff Morgan and Gareth Edwards and the former England captain Bill Beaumont.

Gordon Brown
He was a star on and off the pitch
Other Scottish sports stars included Ally McCoist, Kenny Dalglish and athlete Brian Whittle.

Scotland's football coach Craig Brown also broke off from his team's World Cup preparations in Ayr to attend the service with his brother Jock.

'Broon fae Troon' as he was affectionately known had fought non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for over a year before learning in February that it had reached the incurable stage.

He had won 30 caps for Scotland and played eight tour Test matches for the British Lions.

The son of former Scotland goalkeeper Jock Brown became a familiar face on the after-dinner speaking circuit after his retirement as a player.

Gareth Edwards
Gareth Edwards: "He was such a great man"
He also worked for ITV as a commentator at the 1991 and 1995 World Cup tournaments and became a tireless fund-raiser for charity.

Outside the church, former Wales legend Gareth Edwards, who played with Mr Brown in the British Lions side, said: "He was more than a great rugby player."

"I think the reason everyone is here today is that he was such a great man."

A packed congregation at the old parish church in Troon joined in a colourful celebration of the popular lock forward's life.

Mr Brown was described in a eulogy by the minister, the Rev Howard Haslett, as a larger than life figure who lived life to the full.

"I know of no-one else who had stronger faith in his fellow man," Mr Haslett said.

The shining white coffin was decked out in red and yellow flowers mingled with thistles.

Standing ovation

The church was also awash with colour as mourners heeded the instruction not to wear black but kilts or the red and yellow ties of West of Scotland rugby club.

Mr Haslett told the congregation Mr Brown had planned to record his own eulogy, but died before the recording was made.

Instead, mourners were asked to stand and give the player "one last standing ovation" which lasted several minutes.

There was laughter among the tears as Mr Haslett recalled a string of anecdotes about Mr Brown's life, as well as paying tribute to the millions of pounds he raised for charity during his lifetime.

Flower of Scotland

"He would have kept us here for hours, and we would have loved every minute of it," the minister said, referring to the tape recording that was never made," he said.

"I know of no-one else whose hope burned more brightly, even when dark clouds were gathering.

"I know of no-one else who inspired so much love in so many people."

Mr Brown's coffin was led out of the church to the sound of a bagpiper playing Flower of Scotland, accompanied by the voices of the congregation.

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