DEVOTED football fans travelled hundreds of miles to pay a heartfelt final farewell to a club “hero” and “true gentleman.”

Legends of the game joined with dozens of friends and family members to pay tribute to Vic Keeble, who passed away in January aged 87.

Poignant memories were shared at a packed-out service at Colchester Crematorium as well-wishers turned out in force to remember an “old school” great.

Starting his career in his hometown of Colchester, Keeble scored 65 goals in 81 appearances for The U’s between 1947 and 1952.

In Newcastle and across Tyneside, he is considered a legend, one of several stars to proudly sport the number 9 shirt immortalised by all-time great Alan Shearer.

He was a prolific goalscorer for the club between 1952 and 1957, playing a key part in the side’s 1955 FA Cup victory.

He retained a great fondness for the fans, continuing to visit Newcastle regularly following his retirement.

Keeble even stopped off at Keeble Court, in North Seaton, which was named after him in honour of the cup win.

Friend Bill Gibbs, founder of Newcastle United Fairs Club, made the trip with several hardcore fans to be at his funeral.

Sporting the black and white stripes of the club and addressing the assembled crowd, Mr Gibbs said: “His love for the Geordies never waned.

“In many towns in England all the talk on Sunday is of football.

“On Tyneside it is seven days a week.

“The word legend is often banded around, but Vic was a consummate professional and Tyneside never forgets its heroes.

“It is a pleasure to say some words about my true friend and I thank his family for allowing me to do that.”


Roger Douglass, chairman of Newcastle Supporters Club London, said: “Vic was a great player and a great centre forward.

“He was also a gentleman of the old school and I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. When I last saw him, just a few months ago, I was about to leave his house to walk down the road to the bus stop.

“He wouldn’t let me go until I filled my pockets with chocolate biscuits to eat on the bus back to Colchester.

“I never dreamt I was seeing him for the last time.

“The Supporters’ Club has lost a friend, Newcastle United and Tyneside have lost a friend.”

Keeble also enjoyed a successful spell at West Ham United between 1957 and 1960, before injury forced him to retire.

Hammers legend and former England international Sir Trevor Brooking was among the well-wishers at Keeble’s funeral.


But Keeble was a Colchester man through and through, his heart remaining with the town long after he hung up his boots.

Back then it was a working man's game

Colchester United great Vic Keeble was a familiar face to many long after his playing career ended.

After calling time on his footballing career at West Ham United, Keeble wrote a sports column and sold advertising for a Colchester newspaper.

He returned to the U’s to work for their commercial team before accepting a similar role at Chelmsford City, where he spent 11 years.

He is survived by his three daughters, three sons and beloved dog Maggie.

Speaking before the funeral, son James remembered his father as a “modest” man, who cared deeply for his family.

Keeble’s second wife and James’ mother Carole passed away 14 years ago.

James said: “I had a lovely relationship with my mum and they kept themselves to themselves.

“She passed away very suddenly without any warning at all.

“It did tear his world apart, it stayed with him.

“But he was a strong man and he got over that in his own way.

“He loved his dog Maggie, who stayed by him.”

Keeble was paid a £25 bonus for his part in Newcastle United’s 1955 FA Cup win, and later sold his medal to buy practical household items.

But it was the memories, not the accolades, that Keeble cherished.

James said: “Back then it was a working man’s game. He would walk up to the ground with fans.

“That is what it was all about for him.

“His FA cup medals would gather dust in a draw and it didn’t bother him.

“They were sentimental things and in my childhood he would never ram it down our throats.

“Dad loved the social side, being out with friends and living life to the full.

“Everybody said what a lovely man he was, I have had messages from old colleagues who say ‘Vic helped me out with this or that’.”