Funeral for former England captain Jimmy Armfield

The funeral of former England captain and Blackpool FC star Jimmy Armfield has taken place.

Armfield, who died last month aged 82, was capped 43 times by England, 15 as captain and made a club record 627 appearances for Blackpool.

He later managed Bolton Wanderers and Leeds United, and was a BBC radio commentator for more than 35 years.

Hundreds of fans applauded the funeral cortege as it passed through Bloomfield Road stadium before the church service.

Blackpool FC players lined up as the cortege made its way along the side of the pitch while fans clapped from the stand named after him.

The service, at St Peter’s Church, where he used to play the organ every Sunday, was private but was broadcast to Bloomfield Road for fans to listen to.

Sir Bobby Charlton and his brother Jack, Sir Trevor Brooking, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor and Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer were amongst the mourners from the football world at the ceremony.

Taylor told the service how Jimmy Armfield was “football royalty”, and a man who “everyone loved”.

Vicar Tracy Charnock talked about how “wonderful” the man dubbed Mr Blackpool was and how he “touched and inspired” people across communities from “Blackpool, the country and the world”.

His sons, Duncan and John Armfield, thanked those who attended to celebrate their father’s life, and talked of his love for his family, football and his adopted home town of Blackpool.

A musical medley which included I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside, the theme from the Match of the Day and BBC Sport Report played as Armfield left the church for a private committal for family and friends only.

On its way to the church, Armfield’s cortege paused at his statue outside the stadium which has become a focal point for flowers and other tributes from fans.

As well as gathering at the stadium, hundreds of people lined the streets to applaud Armfield as he left Bloomfield Road for the last time.

Armfield’s death prompted widespread tributes from the football world, including the FA and Match of the Day’s Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.

At the scene: Paul Burnell, BBC News

They came to honour football royalty.

The sport and his adopted town turned out at Blackpool FC to say farewell to Jimmy Armfield.

A steady stream of people filed into the ground to honour the former England and Blackpool player who became a respected broadcaster for the BBC and kingmaker for the FA when it chose two England managers.

But there were as many people who came to pay tribute to a tireless worker for local charities.

Those who braved the spiteful seaside weather all said the same thing: “He never spoke about himself, he was always interested in you and your welfare.”

A tide of tangerine tributes swamped his statue outside the ground but interspersed with them were those of other clubs from Rangers to Limerick FC.

Thousands also turned out to pay their respects at Blackpool’s recent fixture with Charlton Athletic, gathering at the stadium despite the match being cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch.

Armfield, who was born in Denton, Greater Manchester, was a team-mate of Sir Stanley Matthews at Blackpool, where he made his name as an overlapping right-back.

He was never sent off during his career and only booked once, after two fouls in an FA Cup match against Norwich City.

He became manager of Bolton in 1971 and took over at Leeds in 1974, replacing Brian Clough and guiding them to a European Cup final where they were beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich.

He later became a popular newspaper and TV pundit and BBC match summariser, celebrating his 30th year on the BBC’s airwaves in 2009.

Armfield was made a freeman of Blackpool in 2003 and named a CBE in December 2009 for services to Lancashire.

In 2007 he received successful treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma but in 2016 he revealed it had returned. He died at Trinity Hospice in Blackpool on 22 January.

Source: BBC NEWS