'It was a privilege to watch him play' - final farewell for Town legend Beattie
PUBLISHED: 20:49 26 October 2018
Ipswich’s greatest player was given a hero’s send-off as fans lined Portman Road and applauded while Kevin Beattie’s funeral procession passed the club.
The legendary defender’s family arranged for their journey to a private family service to go via the Blues’ home ground so that fans had a final chance to say goodbye.
Fans lined the streets beside the stadium to bid him a final farewell in an emotionally charged act of remembrance.
Mike Snuffling, 71, had come from Needham Market with a special memento for today’s procession.
He said: “This is the first time I’ve ever worn this Ipswich Town scarf since I bought it in 1978 for the FA Cup final.
“I was saving it for a special occasion and I can’t think of a more fitting one than this.
“I had a season ticket for the entire Bobby Robson era, I saw Beattie play some wonderful football and I’ve travelled to watch them play incredible European clubs like Milan - it was a privilege to be able to watch him play.”
The Beat helped Town lift an FA Cup and UEFA Cup in his career and also won nine caps, immortalising him in the history of the club.
The funeral procession stopped outside the statue of Beattie’s first manager, Sir Bobby Robson, as fans applauded and chanted his name.
Colin Plumb travelled down from Bury St Edmunds and has been a fan of Ipswich since he was seven years old.
Now 61, he insisted that Beattie was Town’s best ever player.
He said: “He had the best header, he was the fastest player - if he played now he’d be a £100 million and he’d be worth every penny.
“If he was fit, or even half fit, he would play, that’s how valuable he was.”
Also in the crowd was Keith Stewart, 83, along with his friends and daughter, who came to pay their respects.
“I was a ball boy at the club in the 1940s and I know that Beattie was the best player we ever had.
“I saw him play at Villa Park in the FA Cup semi-final against West Ham,” he said.
“The man behind me sang ‘Kevin Beattie walks on water!’ for the entire match. I never saw him do it myself but he was very good.”
Yvonne Clarke, 80, and her sister Gillian, 76, have been going to the football since they were 10.
“The reason why I’m here is to pay tribute to my favourite footballer, Kevin Beattie - who’s given me a lot of pleasure over the years. I’ve watched him in every game and my best memory is when I went to watch him at Wembley and we won 1-0,” said Yvonne.
“I also like to show my respects because he lived in our town and he is one of us,” she continued.
Pat Kemble, 67 from Sudbury, said: “I’ve come to say goodbye to Kevin, I miss him very much and he’s been a very good player - we will all miss him.”
Neighbour Eddie Hutton, 78, said: “He was a brilliant player and he lived just up the road from where I live. He was a very nice man and he always had time for the fans- it was a real privilege to see him play.”
Fans shared memories of encounters with the footballing legend as they waited for the procession to arrive, and Mark Vinnicombe, 54, said: “I met him at a game in Stockport once - I was with three friends in the bar of our hotel. Beattie walked in, bought a drink and sat down and chatted to us. He was a great, genuine guy.”
Tony Goldrick, 65, added: “We had the pleasure of playing with him on a Sunday and also some charity games - on the pitch, off the pitch he was still the same guy. Very friendly, very generous, and he got along with everyone. He will be missed, especially as a player for Ipswich.”
Michael Laws, 56, said: “The bloke was a legend and a great friend of mine - I’m going to miss him.”
Beattie’s family held a private ceremony at Seven Hills Crematorium following the stop in Portman Road.