West Bromwich Albion’s Club President and former chairman John Silk was laid to rest today as hundreds turned out for his funeral.
Figures from the sporting world joined family members and friends to pay tribute to Mr Silk, who passed away on New Year’s Eve following a short illness. He was aged 89.
His funeral took place this morning at All Saints Church, All Saints Way, West Bromwich. Mr Silk, a well-known businessman, has been hailed for steadying the club after joining it when it was going through a tough period.
He stepped down as chairman at the end of the 1991/92 campaign and was replaced by Trevor Summers, before becoming club president in 2003. Among those at today’s service were former Baggies players Ally Robertson and Brendon Batson.
Mr Batson said: “The tradition between the club and the Silk family goes back a log way with John’s brother Tom. They were both different characters, but John and his wife are very lovely people and today is a question of paying our respects. On the playing side I didn’t have so much to do with John, he was on the board at the time, but in my season as MD I had a lot to do with him. He was a very decent guy.”
West Bromwich Albion chairman Jeremy Peace, who was among mourners today, has described Mr Silk as a ‘very honourable man’.
Sir Doug Ellis, former chairman of Aston Villa Football Club, was also at the funeral.
Mr Silk, who founded law firm Silks Solicitors in 1953, was appointed as a director in 1984 before serving as chairman between 1988 and 1992. He succeeded Sir Bert Millichip as club president in 2003. He also ran engineering firms Hampson Industries and Hill & Smith after the death of brother Tom and his wife in a plane crash in 1980.
Mr Silk, who is survived by wife Jean and children Karen and Mark, followed his brother onto the board at Albion. He became the 15th chairman of West Bromwich Albion when he succeeded Sid Lucas in August 1988.
A tribute released by West Brom earlier this month, written by publications editor Dave Bowler, described his death as the ‘end of an era’ at the club. It said his elevation to the role of chairman came with Albion at a low ebb and it was Mr Silk’s job to try to bring stability to what were ‘tumultuous times’. The tribute read: “The club were in financial difficulties, having already sold their Spring Road training ground, and had to contend with rapidly falling attendances plus relegation to English football’s third tier for the first time.
“Despite these difficulties, John restored comparative stability to the club’s finances, although the drop in status inevitably meant difficult decisions had to be made, including the sale of Don Goodman towards the end of 1991. The seeds for the club’s recovery were sown the following January when John sanctioned the £300,000 purchase of Bob Taylor.”
It added that when Mr Silk stepped down as chairman at the end of the 1991/92 campaign he left the club in a healthier financial state than when he was appointed chairman, allowing it to flourish into the Barclays Premier League club it has since become.