THE funeral of Brian 'Hebbo' Hetherington who has passed away at the age of 89 is taking place today (Friday).

A former footballer, manager and referee, Brian was most respected and held in the highest esteem by so many, and on Facebook over 320 tributes were paid.

One of the highlights in Brian's coaching role was back in 1978 when local side Greengate United took on a Manchester United select in a charity game for a young Barrow girl. United paraded for the first time Gorden McQueen who had signed on for £500,000 and later played for Scotland.

Five a side team at the Catholic Sports day at the Convent ground in the 1960sFive a side team at the Catholic Sports day at the Convent ground in the 1960s (Image: Submitted)

Greengate were a top local side which won many trophies. Brian also was manager of Vickers Sports club along with former Barrow manager Ron Staniforth who lifted the Richardson cup in his spell at the club. He later moved to Holker Street where he was reserve team coach that played in the Lancashire Combination, a team that his son Mark played in.

Brian was also a local referee and was the first from the Barrow area to officiate as a linesman in the Football League in a game between Newcastle and Arsenal at a fog bound St James Park.

Brian with his wife DorrenBrian with his wife Dorren (Image: Submitted)

Trevor Jones who became the first Football League referee from Barrow said: “Brian was a most influential figure not only at the training school but also for myself and other young referees, he would help us develop and overcome any obstacles. He was a most respected man.

"He made such an impact on so many young people lives”

Brian went to St Mary's School on Howard Street before moving in to Vickers (now BAE Systems) where he worked in the machine shop prior to taking up a role as a PE instructor in the Vickers training school for apprentices. It was here that he got involved with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme where he guided so many to earn their gold awards.

He later took up a role with the GMB Union.

With his wife Doreen, and children Julie and Mark they loved to go on camping holidays as far away as Cornwall and Dorset before going on several cruises. As a treat in 2017, Mark took his parents on a ten day holiday to Dubai and both said they had the most enjoyable time of their lives.

Brian was proud of his grandchildren Callum, Kier, Lydia and Liam Livingstone, the Lancashire and England player who flew back for the funeral on Thursday from the T20 World cup in the West Indies.

Brian followed his career but was too ill to see Liam and the England team win the 2020 tournament.

Mark said it was heart-breaking for the family.