Family, footballing royalty and supporters joined together on Wednesday to celebrate the life of Everton legend and England World Cup winner Ray Wilson.
Wilson passed away last month after cramming a plethora of achievements into his 83 years.
He joined Everton in 1964 from Huddersfield Town and would go on to play 154 games for the Club, including the 1966 FA Cup final victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Derek Temple, a goalscorer in that match, was in the congregation at an upbeat service, with guests ordered not to wear black.
From the 1966 World Cup-winning team, of which a 31-year-old Wilson was the oldest member, there was hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, goalkeeper Gordon Banks and the Charlton brothers, Bobby and Jackie.
Fans of Everton and Huddersfield Town – some in club colours, a few followers of the Yorkshire team wearing the red shirt Huddersfield designed in Wilson’s honour in 2016/17 – listened to uplifting recollections from Wilson’s friend Andrew Ward, who remembered a “humble man… intelligent, humorous, sharp and with a devilish streak”.
Wilson’s coffin entered Huddersfield Crematorium’s compact chapel to the accompaniment of Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, as a large gathering assembled for a service conducted by Reverend Canon David Ward.
With a Huddersfield Town scarf draped around his neck, Reverend Ward paid tribute to a footballer who was one of his sport’s “finest proponents”.
He talked of a “deft, thorough and professional man” – qualities which Wilson equally applied in his post-football career as an undertaker.
The dementia which afflicted Wilson in later life “never robbed him of his spirit,” said Reverend Ward.
Wilson, who was married for 61 years to wife Pat, described by Andrew Ward as a “hero”, stayed at Goodison Park for five years, with his place in Club lore assured when he was named an Everton Giant in 2002.