HUNDREDS of mourners gathered yesterday to say goodbye to one of North East football’s favourite sons.
Charlie Crowe was remembered as a “working man, a family man and a footballer” at a moving ceremony on Tyneside.
So many people arrived to show their respects for the Walker-born player who was part of Newcastle United’s 1950s FA Cup glory years that the service had to be broadcast over a loudspeaker at Tynemouth Crematorium in North Shields.
Charlie who was one of only two remaining Newcastle players with an FA Cup winner’s medal, passed away last Saturday night. He was 85.
Among those united in remembrance of Charlie were Jack Charlton, Mick Martin and Bob Moncur.
Former United skipper Mick said: “It was a very moving service, especially how it related to football.
“Charlie was a popular man and that shows from the amount of people here today.”
The mourners were led by Charlie’s widow Ruth, 83, their children Lesley, Cathy, Charlie junior and Simon, and his wider family.
The moving service was conducted by the Rev Glyn Evans, who is well known for his passion for Newcastle United.
Over the years the vicar, ordinarily based St Andrew’s Church, in Newcastle, has worn a black and white dog collar and written a United-themed hymn book.
Describing Charlie as a “working man, a family man and a footballer”, Mr Evans told the mourners that Charlie would be reunited with his former teammates in heaven.
Reading The Lord is my Shepherd and wearing a Newcastle United scarf, Mr Evans encouraged the congregation to think about what the words would have meant to Charlie.
He said: “The person who wrote this imagined green pastures but I think it would be nice to think about what Charlie would have liked if he could pick his perfect place.”
Describing Charlie as being “blessed” with a gift, he also spoke of how the footballers of yesteryear kept each other grounded.
He said: “These players didn’t live in high-rise apartments on the Quayside. At the end of the day they went home to their family and friends.
“There were no prima donnas back then. The players all took care of each other.”
Donation boxes were placed at the entrance to the crematorium so that mourners could pay tribute to Charlie by supporting his charity, The Charlie Crowe Scanner Appeal.
In the past year, Charlie, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1998, and his supporters have worked to generate £125,000 to go towards buying a new brain scanner for Newcastle University’s Centre for Ageing and Vitality.
The high-powered equipment will help experts to learn more about Alzheimer’s and other similar conditions in the hope of finding a cure.
Charlie’s achievements will also be marked at St James’ Park today.
Players will wear black armbands to remember Charlie during the home clash with Barnsley – the side he made his debut against in 1946.
The appeal aims to generate £500,000 of the £1.5m needed for the brain scanner.
:: To support it visit www.justgiving.com/charliecroweappeal or send a cheque to the Charlie Crowe Appeal to Room 203, Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, NE7 7DN.
:: Click here to leave your tribute to NUFC legend Charlie Crowe