Tributes paid to caring Bob

THE funeral of former Suffolk football stalwart Bob Sharman took place at St Margaret's Church, Ipswich this morning.His widow Eileen described him as a “lovely caring man”, while Dave King, who played many times for Suffolk under Bob's management said his “man management skills were out of this world.

By Elvin King

THE funeral of former Suffolk football stalwart Bob Sharman took place at St Margaret's Church, Ipswich this morning.

His widow Eileen described him as a “lovely caring man”, while Dave King, who played many times for Suffolk under Bob's management said his “man management skills were out of this world.”

Bob, who was 75, managed the county football teams for several years as well as becoming a respected referee and Whitton United player and official.

The church was packed with family, friends and former colleagues plus a large turn-out from the local football world.

A former stonemason, postman and storekeeper, Bob leaves three sons Richard, Mark and Paul who helped carry the coffin into the church.

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King, who played more than 30 times for Suffolk, said that Bob had a quiet strength that won him the respect of players.

“Some were getting £50 a game with their clubs but they would not sign a contract because they wanted to be free to play four matches or so for Suffolk each year,” said former Stowmarket Town striker King.

“They had a loyalty to Bob rather than the county. His man-management skills were out of this world and we all wanted to play for him.

“He trusted you and believed in you and had a quiet strength. If you ever let him down it was up to you to make amends. He never came chasing.

“This is why the likes of Steve Wade, Paul Keys, Micky Smith, Jason Burman and myself played so many times for Suffolk - and we were successful as well.”

Suffolk won every competition they entered under Sharman at adult and youth level apart from the FA County Youth Cup where they did get to the final under his management.

“Bob was a lovely caring man,” said Eileen, who read a lesson along with local football personality David Routh.

“He made us all feel secure and loved.

“I had to share him with football, but he always found a great deal of time for his family.

“We used to laugh a lot, and we are still laughing over many of the memories he left us.

“Bob was prepared to go that bit extra to help anyone he could, and we have received 140 cards since his death.

“After visiting his former Suffolk coach Conrad Henry in Somersham ward at Ipswich Hospital before Conrad died, Bob became vice chairman of the ward's support group.

“He was drawn to it, and we used to visit and make tea and have a chat.”

A former pupil of St Margaret's School, Bob was a choirboy at St Margaret's Church and left school at 14.

The funeral service was followed by a cremation and then a wake at Gresham's Sports Club in Tuddenham Road.

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