September 20, 2020

Jack Charlton funeral: Thousands line Ashington streets

The funeral cortege arrives in Ashington greeted by well-wishers Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The funeral cortege was warmly welcomed as it arrived in Ashington

Thousands of people lined the streets of football great Jack Charlton’s hometown to pay their respects ahead of his funeral.

Former Republic of Ireland boss Charlton, who won the World Cup playing for England, died on 10 July aged 85.

He was born in Ashington, Northumberland, and often returned to the former mining town.

Well-wishers applauded and cheered as the cortege passed through the streets, with many waving flags and banners.

People threw flowers on the hearse as it passed slowly through the town where he and his younger brother Sir Bobby honed their football skills.

The procession slowed as it passed close to the terraced house on Beatrice Street, where the Charltons once lived and played in the back lane.

Floral tributes in the hearse included a football and a red England shirt with “Jackie 5” on it.

The cortege then made its way to a private service at a crematorium in Newcastle, where just 20 relatives were expected to attend due to coronavirus restrictions.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jack Charlton was “incredibly proud” of Ashington, his son said
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Newcastle United, Leeds United, Ireland and England scarves were draped over the coffin as it was carried into the crematorium
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some well-wishers wore face masks amid the coronavirus outbreak

The former Leeds United defender, who was part of England’s 1966 World Cup winning side, had been diagnosed with lymphoma in recent years.

In more than 20 years with Leeds, he made 773 appearances and won the 1969 league title and the 1972 FA Cup.

“Many will know now that, as a family, we wanted to give local people the opportunity to say goodbye to Jack, and pay their respects before he’s laid to rest,” his son John said.

“Jack was incredibly proud of his hometown, which is why we made the decision to take the funeral cortege around Ashington.”

‘Town’s famous son was home’

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Flags and banners celebrating his involvement with the World Cup win have been placed around the town

By Fiona Trott, BBC News

As soon as the funeral car appeared, the hundreds of people on Alexandra Road started to applaud and cheer. One of the town’s most famous sons was home.

A Northumberland piper accompanied the cortege part of the way. It was a tribute that brought his family to tears.

These are strange times. The family requested that people kept their distance from each other and wore a mask. Despite the pandemic, everybody here left their home or took the morning off work to pay their respects. That’s how much he is loved in this part of the world.

They all have a story about Jack Charlton too – a time he turned up at the local pub, or when he shared his packed lunch when he was out fishing.

Football defined him, but his personality also made him a local hero.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Football fans paid respect to Charlton’s links with Newcastle United
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Messages of love for Charlton were evident on flags around the town
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption One youngster paid tribute by having “Wor Jackie” painted on his back

Peter Mather, a 68-year-old semi-retired bricklayer, stood on the route of the funeral with a sign saying “Howay Wor Jack”.

He said: “I lived over the road from here and I vividly remember watching the World Cup final.

“At the final whistle, he went to his knees, a big hard man like that showing such emotion. I’ll never forget it.”

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Charlton (centre) and his team-mates cemented their place in English football history in 1966
Image copyright Staff/Mirrorpix via Getty Images
Image caption Bobby and Jack Charlton leave their mother’s house in Ashington for a civic reception after the World Cup win in 1966
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption He spent his entire playing career at Leeds United and is seen here challenging his brother Bobby in action for Manchester United

The funeral procession left the Charlton family home in Dalton, Northumberland, and was met by a police escort in Ashington before going along Newbiggin Road into the town centre.

It stopped outside Hirst Welfare Centre, where Charlton and his younger brother Sir Bobby played football as children.

The cortege then travelled to the Newcastle crematorium for the private service.