Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Farewell to Nelly; 500 Gather to Honour Tragic Boro Fan

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Farewell to Nelly; 500 Gather to Honour Tragic Boro Fan

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE MORGAN

A FITTING football farewell was paid to a popular young Boro fan struck down by cancer.

Hundreds paid emotional tribute yesterday to Teesside footballer Simon Nelson who died without realising he had the disease.

St Margaret's Church, Brotton, was packed with 500 family, friends and fellow footballers honouring the life of the former centre forward of the Railway Arms, Brotton, football team.

Pall-bearers and others in the congregation wore Boro No 9 shirts, with "Nelly" - Simon's nickname - emblazoned on the back.

Simon, 29, of Maple Grove, Brotton, was a fit young man who seemed in fine health.

But, after suffering headaches and pain at the end of last month, it emerged he had testicular cancer and died suddenly in Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital of the disease, as it had spread to his lungs and brain.

The congregation heard it was a second heartbreak for the family, as Simon's elder brother Mark died suddenly, aged 33, of a heart aneurysm 10 years ago.

Last week, Simon's devastated mum Vicky and dad Brian, of Brotton, warned other young men to carry out regular checks which could save their lives.

At the front of the church, was displayed a large framed photo of Simon, one of his football shirts and a team photo from an early St Peter's primary school team.

Father Jonathan Rhodes, Rector of St Margaret's, said Simon excelled at sport and played for several local football teams, including the Bull's Head pub team at North Skelton, the Maynard Arms, Carlin How, and Skelton village.

Recently, he played for Brotton's Railway Arms pub team until just a few weeks ago in the Eskdale League, when he broke his foot.

Fr Rhodes said: "We come here today to celebrate and give thanks for Simon's life, which was cut short.

"But it was a life lived to the full - full of love, humour and friendship - a much loved son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle and godfather. …

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