KIND-HEARTED, enthusiastic and loyal – all words used to describe former Pompey player Keith Blackburn.
Keith was cremated yesterday at a service that saw more than 100 people pack out the chapel at Portchester Crematorium, leaving standing room only.
The much-loved husband, father and grandfather was committed wearing his red Ex-Portsmouth Football Club Professionals’ Reunion Club tie, with a copy of the Sports Mail and a radio tuned to Radio 5 in his casket.
His son Darren, 40, paid a touching tribute to his father.
He said: ‘My dad was caring and loving and he was brave.
‘He had values that made us the people we are today. He had an amazing life.’
Friend and an honorary member of the Reunion Club Jake Payne said: ‘I’ve never known anyone as passionate about Pompey as Keith.’
Many former players attended the service including Ray Crawford, who played for Portsmouth, Ipswich and England.
Ray said: ‘Keith was such a lovely fella.
‘He was well loved and he was the type of person who would talk to anybody.’
Also at the funeral were representatives from the Harbour Cancer Support Centre, in Gosport, which Keith had fundraised for, and Peter Prince, Tom Prince’s uncle from the Tom Prince Cancer Trust, for which Keith had also fundraised.
As well as raising money for charities, he had been a big contributor to the original SOS Pompey group, which battled to save the club in the 1970s and the current Pompey Supporters Trust.
Trust board member Pam Wilkins said: ‘Keith was always willing to turn up and chip in, he really was a lovely man.’
Keith’s widow Pearl said she was overwhelmed by the support of the club and all of Keith’s friends. She added: ‘I want to thank everyone so much. They have all been fantastic.’
A wake was held at the Alliance Bar, at Fratton Park.
Keith died aged 73 on February 4.
He played for Portsmouth FC from July 1959 until 1964, when he left to play for Durban in South Africa.
Here his career took off and he was named the South African league’s top player and even played against a Real Madrid side containing Ferenc Puskás and Alfredo Di Stéfano.
He gave up playing professionally due to a knee injury, although that didn’t stop him playing many charity matches when he returned to Portsmouth with Pearl, whom he had met at Kimbells dance hall in Southsea. The couple had three children – Sean, Michele and Darren – and two grandchildren Josh and Jack.
Originally from Manchester, Keith became a true blue through his passion for the football club. A one-minute clap in his honour was held by fans at the Portsmouth v AFC Wimbledon match on February 15.