Sunderland AFC legends Gary Bennett and Don Goodman attend funeral of fan who helped disabled supporters

Sunderland AFC legends Don Goodman and Gary Bennett were among those who said their final goodbyes to a club hero who spent decades helping disabled supporters.

Monday, 1st February 2021, 1:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 10:04 am

Eddie Oyston, from Durham, sadly died aged 88 on January 8, having devoted more than 20 years of his life to the SAFC supporters disabled branch.

A funeral service for Eddie was held on Monday, February 1 at Saint Aidan’s church, Framwellgate Moor, Durham, which saw former Sunderland footballers turn out to pay their respects.

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Gary Bennett and Don Goodman were among those who attended the service, having become good friends with Eddie – who worked for the club as a driver – during their time as players.

They were among those who kept in touch with him over the years – a friendship that Eddie’s daughter Elizabeth Smith, 51, said brought him happiness.

Paying tribute to her dad, Elizabeth said: “He befriended some of the players in the early 90s and would take them to and from the ground to training if they didn’t have a car.

"He also used to run the manager Denis Smith about.

"He kept in touch with players including Anton Rogan, Gary Owers and Kevin Ball over the years and they would phone him.

"Over the years Don Goodman came to see Eddie and Freda and he was over the moon to see him.

"It made him happy that they were still in contact.”

But it was Eddie’s tireless efforts in organising home and away trips that would accommodate Sunderland supporters with disabilities that hundreds of fans will remember him for.

Eddie, along with wife Freda, 82, would arrange everything from transport and hotels to parking permits, so that fans could attend matches.

As well as his love for Sunderland, Eddie was also a devoted family man and is dad to Philip Oyston, 43, and a grandad-of-three – in addition to his extended family through wife Freda.

Daughter Elizabeth added: “Sunderland AFC was such a big part of his life. It was his number one passion.

"He had a heart of gold and if anyone needed any help he would do his best to help them.”

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