SIMPLY the best.

Three words that encapsulated the love, warmth and respect for Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie at a special nostalgia evening in Clacton.

The celebration featured memories and anecdotes from legendary trio Paul Mariner, Eric Gates and Brian Talbot.

The former Blues heroes regaled supporters with endless tales and high jinks from the club's halcyon days in the 1970s and early 80s.

The evening was organised by Town superfan Malcolm Thompson, a long-time friend of Beattie, who passed away in September.

Sky TV reporter Stuart Jarrold, who covered Ipswich for Anglia TV, hosted proceedings and there were plenty of laughs for the 200+ crowd.

Mariner, Gates and Talbot were in tremendous form and unanimous in their praise of Beattie, describing him as the best of his generation - strong as an ox, quick, a sublime tackler and untouchable in the air.

However, they were just as praiseworthy of the larger-than-life personality they knew off the pitch, away from football.

They painted a fascinating picture of a man who undoubtedly had flaws and demons but was also humble, grounded, kind and fun.

Perhaps predictably, and amusingly, there were plenty of tales involving alcohol, pranks, scrapes and escapades - music to the ears of an appreciative crowd.

It was manner from heaven for fans, who were taken back in time to a golden era in Ipswich history, including memories from the club's famous 1978 FA Cup victory.

"Kev was simply the best but the lovely thing is he never realised how good he was," recalled livewire Gates.

"I just hope he's looking down and having a really good laugh."

Mariner, who had flown in from America, agreed and said: "A modern-day player would have a huge head and massive ego, if they had Kev's attributes.

"But he was never, ever like that. He was just the Beat."

Beattie was president of the independent Haverhill branch ITISC and that's how he first met Thompson.

"We shared so many great times together," said the Town fan.

"I soon forgot he was an England international and our greatest-ever player because to me he was just the Beat.

"To say I miss him is an understatement but I felt proud and honoured to have organised the event.

"He deserved to be remembered the way he would have wanted, with his adoring fans."

Tuesday's event was sponsored by the Professional Footballers' Association.

Former West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paul Allen represented them at The Royal Hotel.

In addition to nostalgia with former players, there was also a successful raffle and auction, featuring items donated by Premier League clubs, golfer Ian Poulter and music megastar Ed Sheeran.

All proceeds from the evening are being sent to the Beattie family.