THE blue pride of Pompey shone brightly as more than 300 people gathered to say goodbye to a life-long fan who tragically died.
As the torrential rain came down yesterday afternoon, mourners dressed in blue and white and walked with pride as they followed a horse-drawn hearse through the streets of Leigh Park and past the house of Roger Palmer.
There was barely a dry eye in the house as people packed into Havant crematorium to pay their respects to the 49-year-old.
Among those fighting back tears was Aiden Hutchings, an 18-year-old who had never spoken to Roger, but felt a deep connection to him after trying to save his life last month.
Aiden, a sport student, was walking home from Portsmouth College on June 11 when he saw Roger lying collapsed in Tangier Road.
Roger had been doing some roadworks, but was alone and out of sight when he collapsed from a blood clot in his heart.
Aiden, a lifeguard at the Mountbatten Centre, put his training into practice as he tried to revive Roger and made sure oxygen was still getting to his brain.
Roger, a dad of four and stepdad of four, of Stockheath Way, Leigh Park, was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, where he remained for 10 days, desperately ill as his family held a bedside vigil.
Aiden Hutchings, 18, of Idsworth Road, Baffins, said: ‘I found him there.
‘I had come out of college early. It was instinct – I started to do it and then the ambulance crew arrived and took over.’
Aiden went to Queen Alexandra Hospital twice to visit Roger, who never woke up. He said coming to the funeral was important.
‘I wanted to say goodbye,’ he said. ‘I did not know him very long.’
Aiden received a standing ovation.
Roger’s sister Jeannette Jordan said: ‘We as a family would like to express our heartfelt thanks to a special 18-year-old young man, Aiden Hutchings.
‘We as a family are so very proud of you. You gave us precious time that we wouldn’t have had to say our goodbyes to Roger and we will always be eternally grateful. You, Aiden, will always be our hero.’
The sound of ‘Play Up Pompey’ echoed through the crematorium.
Fellow Pompey fan Eddie Crispin recalled hair-raising tales of supporters travelling around the country in a van.
He said: ‘When you talk about Portsmouth and its surrounding areas, there are a few characters, and Roger was right up there with the best of them.’
‘You realise that you never know what is round the corner’
‘WE love you more than anything’.
Those were the heartfelt words as Roger Palmer’s children paid tribute to their dad.
Alfie Palmer, 14, said: ‘Even though you are gone, you’ll always be my best mate and I love you more than anything.’
Jade Palmer, 19, thanked Roger’s partner, Teresa, who was by his side in hospital until the very end.
‘I’m absolutely devastated,’ she sobbed.
‘This has made me realise... you never know what is round the corner.’
Step-daughter Kira McManus, 14, wore a Pompey shirt with the words ‘RIP Palmer’. She said: ‘He loved Pompey.’
The service heard that Roger had played for various pub football teams, including The Swan, The Royal Albert and The Star.
Roger was an avid raver in the late 1980s and would ‘dance till dawn’ at all-night raves at Boarhunt and Racton Ruins near Emsworth.