‘He was a wonderful fella’: Albie McCann is laid to rest

Kyle Bennett in action against Crawley. Pictures: Neil Marshall

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They turned up in their hundreds all to pay their respects to a Pompey legend.

Albert ‘Albie’ McCann became a fans’ favourite when he played at the club from 1962 until 1974.

And when he retired from football several years later he stayed in the area, living in Warblington until he died on January 9 after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and then prostate cancer.

His funeral was held at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in West Street, Havant, yesterday.

As his coffin arrived at the front of the church, a Pompey floral tribute laid next to his coffin.

Friends and family packed the church, including all his grandchildren, two of whom did a reading.

During the service, the eulogy was read by Albie’s son Mark McCann.

He said: ‘Dad was good academically but where he excelled was at sport. While his first love was football he did cross-country and rugby too. It was the football not the academic route that he took.

‘In 1961 he moved to Coventry where he stayed for a year before transferring to the greatest team in the world.’

Mark spoke about his dad’s time working in a newsagent in Winter Road, just minutes from Fratton Park.

Later on in life he then opened a care home on Hayling Island.

‘Dad was a lovely, caring father who was very supportive to us all,’ he added.

‘My dad had a very good life. He really enjoyed it. Life was for living. He wouldn’t want us to be sat here grieving.’

Mr McCann also paid tribute to the doctors and nurses who looked after his dad, as well as staff at The Rowans Hospice who helped to care for him in his final hours.

Ex-Pompey players were among those who filled up the church.

John Milkins played with Albie at the club, as he was there from 1958 until 1974.

He said: ‘He was a very good player. He worked hard for the team.

‘He was a great person, very friendly. He was a family man.

‘He was good to the players. We were all good friends.

‘There was more camaraderie in those days than there is today. We all supported each other.’

Bobby Campbell played with Albie and also coached him.

He said: ‘He was a wonderful fella.

‘He had to put up with jokes because we all made fun of him.

‘He was a wonderful man and a good friend. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to know him.’

Alan Knight said: ‘He was of that era where players stayed at clubs for longer.

‘Albie became a hero with the Pompey faithful and he stayed local.

‘He epitomises what Portsmouth Football Club is all about.

‘Today we found out what a well loved family man he was.

‘It’s a very sad occasion but for all the other lads who played with him it brings back memories.

‘Tinged with sadness are the good memories of what he brought to Fratton Park.’

And Alan said he was impressed by the number of people who turned out to pay tribute to Albie.

‘It’s an amazing turnout from ex-playing colleagues, and not just from Portsmouth,’ he said.

‘I have seen people from other clubs that Albie played for.

‘He was a very well loved man.’

The funeral service was kept very much in the local community, as the funeral arranger was Kelly Marsh, from Carrells Funeral Directors, who used to live opposite the family.

And funeral director Melvin Duke is also a steward at Fratton Park.

After the ceremony, the burial took place at Warblington cemetery and the wake was held at The Denvilles Club in Emsworth Road.

Albie’s widow Elaine and her family asked for people to make donations to The Rowans, instead of buying flowers.

Fans are being invited to make a donation to the Rowans Hospice.

Donate at the website justgiving.com/

Albert McCann was born on November 1, 1941.

He joined Luton Town and made his debut in April 1960 in a 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn Rovers.

He made six appearances for Luton before he joined Coventry City in August 1961 for a fee of £8,000.

A year later, he moved to Fratton Park. In his 12 years at the club, he scored 98 goals in 372 games.

Pompey remained in the second tier of English football throughout his stay.

When they finished fifth in the 1967/68 campaign, McCann was top scorer with 16 goals.

He also played a key role in that season’s FA Cup fourth round replay victory over top-flight Fulham in a game that saw a turnout of 44,050 at Fratton Park.

McCann’s place in the hearts of Pompey fans was clear when his 1973 testimonial against West Ham attracted a crowd of 22,000.

Albie McCann has been inducted into Pompey’s Hall of Fame.