Five decades of West Bromwich Albion history came together to celebrate the life of legendary kitman Dave Matthews and say a sad final farewell at his funeral on Wednesday.
The father-of-two died after devoting more than 50 years to his home club , presiding over 2,000 games and working with 24 different managers and head coaches.
He was laid to rest at St John the Baptist Church, High Street, Halesowen, in front of hundreds of family, friends and the football community.
Among the stars turning out to pay their respects were Albion legends Cyrille Regis, Bryan Robson, Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown, Brendon Batson, Bob Taylor, Geoff Horsfield and Darren Moore.
Others present at the funeral included Asa Hartford, Tony Mowbray, Brian Talbot and current players Chris Brunt and Jonas Olsson.
Olsson said: “Dave was like one of the team.
“Whether you’re a player, coach or a kit-man, you’re in it together and Dave was there for us every day.
“We will all miss him greatly.”
Mr Matthews died on April 14, aged 67, less than a year after retiring from the Baggies - a club he joined at the age of 15.
He had overcome his battle with non-hodgkin lymphoma but was later diagnosed with a rare heart condition.
His coffin was carried into the church by former players Regis, Batson, Taylor, Ally Roberston, John Wile and Paul Raven, with a blue and white flowered wreath bearing the long-serving kitman’s nickname - Mr Albion - following closely behind.
Regis said: “I’ve known Dave since 1977 when I was a young 19-year-old and he was such a genuine man.
“In the days where footballers are around for a year, for someone to spend 50 years serving his football team, well I don’t think that will ever be surpassed.”
While mourners launched into a poignant rendition of The Hawthorns goal celebration The Lord is My Shepherd, flags at the ground were flying at half mast as a mark of respect.
Ken Hipkiss, a friend of Mr Matthews, said: “In the often turbulent atmosphere of the dressing room, Dave was the calming influence.
“He was West Bromwich Albion through and through. He truly was a man of all seasons.”
Ken also revealed Mr Matthews had played twice for the Baggies, where he was also club chaplain, both times when the club was a player down for fixtures against Mansfield.