A FORMER Portsmouth FC defender who retired to run his own pub has been laid to rest.
This afternoon people gathered at Portchester Crematorium to pay their final respects to rough and tumble left back Billy Wilson, who passed away on February 22, age 71.
A mainstay in the Pompey first team during the 1970s, Billy Wilson scored six goals in 216 appearances – earning himself a place in the club’s Hall of Fame.
Playing for eight seasons, perhaps his best moment came while playing against George Best – who found himself in Billy’s back pocket for 90 minutes.
But it wasn’t just football that Billy had a passion for; he was a well-known publican with a tenancy at The Pompey pub, as well as serving as the landlord of The Wyvern in Lee-on-the-Solent and The Three Tuns in Gosport, among others.
In 2006, Billy and his wife officially retired, settling down at their home in Gosport.
A well-known figure in the community, people came to his funeral in droves, including ex-Pompey stars John Milkins and David Munks to say their goodbyes.
John Milkins was Pompey’s goalkeeper during Billy’s time at the club.
He said: ‘Billy used to play full back and in midfield. He was a great asset to the team and led by example.
‘Off the pitch he was a kind and bubbly lad – which was good for the dressing room.
‘We had some great characters at the club and Billy really livened the place up. He was a good laugh and a fantastic lad, so he will be dearly missed.’
Kit assistant and Pompey legend Barry Harris said: ‘Billy always looked after himself very well – and was always laughing. Some people saw football as a job, but Billy always played with a smile on his face.’
Paying tribute during the funeral service, Billy’s son Scott said: My dad was my hero – I know a lot of people say that, but he really was.
‘He was a fantastic dad and it was great to grow up watching him play. It was great to be here a few days ago as the football club paid tribute to him.
‘Dad was always great fun – I remember when I would go out with friends he would say “Make sure you’re in bed by 12, if you aren’t then come home.”
‘My wife said to me that she had never seen him cross – and she was right. He was always smiling, laughing and telling some pretty bad jokes.
‘From people here today it would seem he was universally loved players, team mates and pub regulars.
‘Dad loved to watch his grandchildren playing football as well – and I think it was the only time I saw him cheering against Pompey, when his grandson was playing against them. He stayed true to himself right until the end, and was frequently winding up the nurses at the hospital.’