Hundreds of mourners said an emotional goodbye to a South Yorkshire grassroots football stalwart and his wife of more than 50 years as their joint funeral was held at Sheffield Cathedral.
Brian Bradley, 76, and his wife Judith, 77, died together on July 2 after their car came off the M1 and hit a tree.
Glowing tributes were paid at the funeral this lunchtime to the much-loved Firth Park couple, who had been married since 1961 and had two daughters and one grandson.
Mourners remembered Brian’s love of football, Judith’s kindness and religious beliefs and the childhood sweethearts’ unwavering love for each other.
The congregation was told of Brian’s tireless work to support local football, along with Judith’s service as a Sunday school teacher at St Cuthbert’s Church in Fir Vale.
More than 500 people packed into Sheffield Cathedral for the service, which included some of Judith’s favourite hymns.
The final hymn of the service was Abide with Me, which has famously been played at every FA Cup final since 1927 and was sung in joint tribute to Brian’s love of football and Judith’s beliefs.
The service was led by Mike Reeder, senior chaplain at St Luke’s Hospice, who said everyone had been shocked and stunned by the couple’s untimely deaths.
Robert Jackson, who worked with Brian at BBC Radio Sheffield, said the couple were an ‘inseparable pair’, who had been together in life and in death.
He said: “They were both small in stature but giants in love, service and kindness to others.”
Other tributes were given by their son-in-law John Baverstock and Keith Hackett, former general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board who had known Brian since the 1960s when they both refereed in the local Sheffield leagues together.
Mr Hackett said: “I don’t think there was ever a man who knew so much about our local football teams.”
The pair’s coffins were brought into the cathedral together as Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable was played and left to the sound of Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.
The couple were well-known by hundreds of people involved in South Yorkshire sport, with Judith regularly accompanying her husband to watch local football matches.
Brian, who was known to his friends as ‘Bradders’, wrote a non-league football column for the Sheffield Telegraph and was a well-known figure in local amateur football.
He was also known as the ‘Voice of Doncaster Rovers’ and was BBC Radio Sheffield’s voice at Belle Vue during the majority of Rovers’ Conference era, as well as being the station’s non-league football expert for many years.
Brian also did online commentaries for the Rovers website between 2003 and 2007.
He had been made president of the H-K-L North Midlands Development Football League just last week in recognition of his ‘dedicated and relentless commitment to local football over the years’.
He was a previous director and treasurer of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA, a former amateur referee and secretary of Firth Park Bowling Club.
Brian refereed in the local Sheffield & Hallamshire leagues from 1956 to 1965, before having a break and then rejoining the referees’ ranks from 1970 to 1980.
He worked as chief district auditor and a local newsagent and covered non-league football for Radio Sheffield for 24 years.
His involvement in grassroots football included working as Fixtures Secretary for the County Senior League and chairman of the Midland County FA.