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Nice send off for Ralph Coates

Posted on 5 January 2011 | 5:01pm

Just back from a celebration of Ralph Coates’ life  at St Stephen’s Church in Enfield, followed by a nice do at White Hart Lane. Big turnout and some terrific tributes from Dave Merrington and Martin Dobson (Burnley), Alan Mullery and Phil Beal (Spurs) and Frank Clark (Orient).

Lots of former Spurs players there, including some who took part in Burnley’s historic 4-1 win at White Hart Lane when we were in the third division and they were one of the top clubs in the country! (sorry)

A Spurs fan of a certain age would have had the thrill of seeing among others Pat Jennings (who still has an amazing head of hair), Martin Peters, Martin Chivers, Gary Mabbutt, Gerry Armstrong, John Pratt, Keith Burkinshaw.

A good turnout from Burnley too, including heroes of my teenage years like Frank Casper and Arthur Bellamy. Fans turned out as well, not least David Burnley, who never ever ever misses a game and who changed his name by deed poll just in case anyone doubted his allegiance.

But I’m sure all the footballers in the church would agree that the best tribute of all came from Ralph’s son Paul, who spoke beautifully about his father. He broke up a couple of times, and by the end of it, so had many others. Perhaps because I spoke at my own Dad’s funeral, I was among the teary-eyed ones leaving the church afterwards.

I learned a few things about Ralph that I didn’t know. He never swore. He once used blu-tack to try to keep his flyaway hair on his head (there were some wonderful clips on the video played during the service which showed why he needed it). Also after his playing days were over he coached children, including disabled children.

His family is setting up a Ralph Coates Foundation so that his work to give access to sport regardless of background or ability may continue.

  • John Drake

    Coatesie was my first real hero. When he was dropped from the World Cup ’70 squad, I cried like a baby, though I was only 7. It is sad when your hero passes away

  • Paul Houseman

    I read in one of the obituaries that he turned up for first day at Spurs in a claret suit … he was Burnley through and through. RIP

  • Pete Lindhurst

    Nobody can say you don’t support your team properly. Great to hear Pat Jennings etc still thriving. I am a Spurs fan and was at the Wembley final where Ralph came off the bench to score the winner. Lovely man.

  • Quinney

    Burnley always had a fantastic academy in those days, I remember being told by my gym teacher who ran the school football that if you ever had the choice to sign schoolboy froms with Burnley, do it. He rated them above United, the bitters, Everton and the scousers.
    Keith Newton, Martin Dobson, Ray Hankin, Dave (no shinpads) Thomas, Leighton James and Ralph Coates, all came from the academy, it’s a pity we can’t seem to produce home grown talent anymore.

  • Steven Ives

    it was an amazing day, Ralph was a true gent,

    Steve Ives

  • Richard Brittain

    Blimmin’ heck, Enfield is my home town. I would’ve made a trip up there if I’d known Alastair Campbell was visiting!

  • Paulddmurphy

    My favourite memory of Spurs and Burnley is a 7-0 win in 68/69! Met Pat Jennings once in the gents at Wembley and yes he did have really big hands !

  • John Wilkinson

    Just seen your Ralph Coates piece. Being 56 the players you mention are very much of my teenage years – though I think Arthur Bellamy was a little before I was a teenager. I particularly remember a fondness for Frank Caspar which seemed to grow in direct proportion to the anger he engendered with some of my fellow supporters as he ploughed what I recall as an often lonely furrow at the head of our attack.

    Equally your comments about Dads and sons struck home as my late father took me to the Turf as an 8 year old to see the likes of Lochhead, Morgan, Irvine, and the frightening ( even for a home fan ) Brian O’Neil!

    All such memories mingled last week when I took my 7 year old twins from Nottingham to their first match at Turf Moor ( a carefully chosen game against Palace ). I wonder whether 50 years hence the names of Eagles ( Josh is obsessed by the man! ), Rodriguez and Wallace will evoke such fondness?

    One never knows, I even retain a fondness for Harold Wilson – my first leader!!!

    John Wilkinson