Football legends join community in saying goodbye to '˜devoted' Sunderland AFC fan Keith Charlton
Sunderland AFC stars and club officials joined hundreds of mourners in saying goodbye to a dedicated fan.
A familiar face to many Black Cats supporters at home and away matches, 46-year-old Keith was a steward at games and a volunteer with The Fans Museum project, which showcases SAFC-related and wider football memorabilia.
Former Sunderland AFC captain Kevin Ball and former player Gary Bennett were among those who turned out to the service held at Sunderland Crematorium on Tuesday.
Those gathered paid tribute to Keith’s love of SAFC by wearing red and white scarves and football tops.
Flowers in club colours saying ‘SAFC’ and ‘Keith’ were also left in tribute to the passionate Sunderland fan.
The Fans Museum founder Michael Ganley was at the service, calling it a ‘fitting tribute’ to a ‘lovely guy.’
He said: “It was a lovely service and a very fitting tribute.
“Kevin Ball and Gary Bennett where there as well as club representatives.
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“Keith started as a volunteer with us five years ago when we first started out doing road shows, he was a part of that and when we first started up the museum he came along, so he has been through it all with us.”
Mr Ganley said that he would be putting up hundreds of photos of Keith throughout the years in the museum which will be on display until the end of the year as a tribute to the long-time volunteer.
He added: “He was a devoted fan and a lovely lad.”
SAFC star Lynden Gooch, said to be Keith’s favourite player, also posted a tribute to Keith on social media following his death.
The USA international midfielder wrote: “Such sad news.
“A great man who always welcomed me at the Stadium of Light before every home game to shake my hand and wish me all the best.