Pompey family turn out in force for ex-player

Pat Neil. Picture: Keith Woodland
Pat Neil. Picture: Keith Woodland
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THE Pompey family turned out in numbers to pay tribute to Pat Neil.

The ex-Blues winger and chairman of the Pompey Former Players Association was buried on Tuesday afternoon.

More than 200 people delivered their respects at the ceremony held at The Oaks Crematorium in Havant.

Among them were former players Lyn Powell, Ray Crawford, David Munks, John Milkins and Tony Priscott, along with club servant Barry Harris.

It was standing room only according to Jake Payne, secretary of the Pompey Former Players Association.

And it reflected a fitting send off for the player who made 11 Pompey appearances before becoming a local school teacher.

Payne said: ‘It was standing room only, with a lot of people waiting outside in the hallway as they couldn’t fit inside the chapel.

‘It demonstrated Pat’s popularity. He was such a lovely guy who loved the football club.

‘He had instructed a celebration of his life, requesting nobody wore black. He wanted colours and was determined it wouldn’t be a doom and gloom funeral.

‘I felt it came across as a happy occasion, with some fantastic stories delivered by two of his daughters and his youngest brother.

‘Being a teacher, Pat was always a stickler for correct grammar and semicolons – so we heard some stories about those!

‘He didn’t just kick a football for a living, he was very intelligent and taught a lot of people over the years.

‘The only time I saw him get angry was when Pompey put together the Club 1898 and insisted it contained only those players to have made a minimum of 25 appearances.

‘Pat was adamant that if you wore that shirt then you should be included in the club, whether it be having represented the youth team, reserves, A-team or first-team.

‘He got his own way too.

‘Pat was truly a gifted man and left his mark on so many people, he will be missed by us all.’

Neil was a schoolboy at Northern Grammar when granted his Pompey debut on the opening day of the 1955-56 campaign.

He then joined Stan Cullis’ Wolves, only to opt to study at Cambridge University for three years.

Neil returned to Fratton Park during the 1962-63 campaign, although made only two more appearances before quitting to embark on a full-time teaching career.

The England youth international totalled 11 appearances and scored three goals for the Blues.

Neil, who died last month aged 79, leaves behind a widow, Maureen.