Famous names from the world of football gathered in Burnley to say final goodbyes to former Clarets manager and Manchester United youth coach Joe Brown.
Floral tributes from the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs nestled outside Rosehill Baptist Church where mourners included Manchester United’s legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
A committed Christian, Joe was described as a gentleman who “played on God’s team”.
Northumberland-born Joe, who died recently aged 85, managed Burnley between January 1976 and June 1977 in a caretaker role following the resignation of club legend Jimmy Adamson.
He had briefly been at the club as a player before returning in the 1960s as a youth coach.
It was his gifts in this field which won him a place as a youth development coach at Old Trafford where he helped to oversee perhaps the most gifted generation of young footballers the world has ever seen.
Manchester United’s famous crop of fledgling stars who emerged in the 1990s including Beckham, Giggs and Paul Scholes, would have all benefited from his guidance and kindly manner. Nicky Butt, another of that golden generation, was among the mourners.
Settling in Burnley with wife Constance, the couple worshipped at Queensgate Pentecostal Church and Rosehill Baptist Church where they were committed and active members.
Former Burnley footballer and Southampton manager Dave Merrington gave a touching tribute at the service, recalling how Joe’s committed faith had inspired him to take the same journey.
He said: “I once asked Joe what life was all about and he told me to read John Chapter three in the Bible. I did and I’ve never looked back.
“Joe was a gentleman and never used industrial language. If he got angry he would shout ‘flipping heck’.
“Although he loved football he would always say there was more to life than the game. He said there were two teams – the world’s team and God’s team, and he played for God’s team.”
The service heard that Joe had been badly affected by an injury he suffered in a hit-and-run accident, and by the sudden death of his son Nigel 10 years ago.
He leaves his other son Martin and five grandchildren.