Wolves legend Peter Broadbent was laid to rest today as hundreds turned out for his funeral.
Fans flocked to St Peter’s Collegiate Church for the service along with family, friends and team-mates of one of the club’s greatest ever players.
They also gathered at Molineux where the funeral cortège poignantly passed by as flags were lowered to half mast.
The star of the famous Wolves side of the 1950s died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, aged 80.
Fans today paid tribute to their hero, labelling his football prowess as ‘unreal’.
Hymns including Abide With Me, traditionally played before the FA Cup Final, a trophy Mr Broadbent won with Wolves in 1960, were being played at the service.
Jerusalem was also being played, while Frank Sinatra’s My Way was accompanying Mr Broadbent’s coffin being carried into the church.
Former team-mates and fellow Wolves legends Ron Flowers and Malcolm Finlayson were giving readings, with a host of club players and dignitaries in attendance.
Wolves chaplain Rev David Wright, who was leading the service, said today: “There are two groups of people here for Peter Broadbent. Firstly his family and secondly the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club family.
“This is a service that is a celebration of his life and a thanksgiving for a family man and a wonderfully talented footballer.”
Outside Molineux Brian Whyley, aged 75, and a Wolves fan for 63 years, went to pay tribute ahead of the funeral.
The Tipton resident said: “I felt like I needed to come down here today and pay my respects to Peter and thank him for all the memories.
“Peter was one of those players who could beat two or three of the opposition without even touching the ball.
“People talk about the importance of distribution in football – his was unreal.
“People can mention Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, but Peter Broadbent was in that bracket, he was a top player.”
Mr Broadbent’s granddaughters helped lead the tributes at Molineux last night before the club’s game against Notts County.
A minute’s applause took place ahead of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match, with granddaughters Rosie, aged 14 and Mollie, 11, mascots for the night. They were joined by Mr Broadbent’s wife Shirley, 78 as well as son Gary, 53, and daughter Debbie, 57.
Mr Broadbent’s brother Jack, his wife Janet, their children Sue and Derek and their family also attended, while Wolves captain Richard Stearman led the family and ex-team-mates Mr Finlayson and Mr Flowers in laying flowers behind the Stan Cullis Stand goal before the game. Debbie’s youngest son, Nick Smith, 29 and a serving officer in the RAF, arrived back from Afghanistan yesterday to attend the funeral.
Devoted wife Mrs Broadbent today thanked the public for their support since her husband’s death.
The couple were married for 57 years and Mrs Broadbent, who lives in Codsall, said: “I’ve had lots of lovely cards and letters and beautiful flowers. It’s been marvellous – everyone has been so kind. I haven’t counted them all but there’s a great number of them.
“They’re all so beautiful. I’ve had so much support from everyone, it’s been wonderful and very touching. Peter would have loved it.”
Mrs Broadbent revealed she had received a letter of support from Rev Andrew Cullis, son of legendary Wolves manager Stan Cullis, who managed Peter in the club’s glory days of the 1950s.
“As a little boy, he remembered Peter when he played for Wolves,” she said.
Recognised as one of the club’s greatest players, Mr Broadbent scored 145 goals in 497 games for Wolves from 1951-64 and won three League championships in 1954, 1958 and 1959 and the FA Cup in 1960.
After spells with Shrewsbury Town, Aston Villa, Stockport County and Bromsgrove Rovers, he retired from football in 1971, and the couple ran a babywear shop in Halesowen for over 30 years. Tributes have poured in for the Kent-born great. Fans of his included the likes of George Best and Sir Alex Ferguson.
For a four-page special on Peter Broadbent see tomorrow's Express & Star.