STOKE CITY Chairman Peter Coates and manager Tony Pulis were among many mourners at the funeral of former player Paul Ware today.
The service took place at St Mary’s Church in Sandbach where representatives of the Football Club and team-mates were present to pay their last respects to the 42-year-old Congleton-born player who lost his battle against cancer two weeks ago.
As well as his wife Tracey and their two daughters, Laura and Amy, many of Ware’s colleagues from his seven-year spell at the Victoria Ground from 1987-94 were also present, including Carl Beeston, Ian Cranson, Noel Blake and George Berry.
The funeral followed a special tribute to him at City’s Barclays Premier League match against Norwich City at the weekend featuring a screening of his greatest moments in a Stoke shirt and a minute’s applause in the 42nd minute of the game.
Mr Coates was accompanied at the service by his son John, the joint Chief Executive of bet365, who was in the year below Ware at secondary school.
Like so many other City supporters, John Coates recalls the greatest moment of the player’s Potters career in 1992 with great affection.
He was among 4,000 fans who travelled to Peterborough for the Southern Area Final of the Autoglass Trophy in a “rickety old coach” which had its windscreen shattered so that passengers took it in turns to wipe rain off the driver’s glasses.
They eventually made it to London Road in time and celebrated a memorable triumph as Ware fired in a 30-yard free-kick which sent the Potters to Wembley Stadium where they beat another of his former clubs, Stockport County, in the Final.
That was certainly one of the memories many who were present at the funeral talked about as they mourned his passing but also celebrated his achievements.