HUNDREDS of mourners paid their respects to amateur rugby league stalwart Harold Swift MBE (pictured below) at his funeral service last week.
Extra seats had to be drafted in at the back of St Helens Parish Church last Friday (April 27) to accommodate all the late Blackbrook ARLFC chairman’s friends and family.
Among the mourners was Saints’ interim coach Mike Rush and former Saints star Tommy Martyn.
Fittingly, the service, which preceded a committal at St Helens Crematorium, was followed by refreshments at his second home - Blackbrook rugby club.
Mr Swift’s oldest son, Alan, led the tributes with a sparkling, bittersweet eulogy on behalf of the family.
He said: “We are all so proud to call him our dad. He was honest, loyal, loving and kind, strong, determined and happy.
“Dad was a star. He was a legend in his own lifetime. Nobody is more proud of his achievements than us, his family.”
Harold Swift, the long-serving Blackbrook ARLFC chairman, succumbed to a chest infection in the early hours of April 14 - less than 24 hours before grandson Adam made his Saints debut.
Just a day earlier the father-of-five and grandfather-of-nine had marked his 79th birthday with his family.
Mr Swift’s association with Blackbrook ARLFC and the wider amateur game dates back more than 50 years.
He started out at Brook as a player in his early 20s, before a short illness opened his eyes to the administrative side of the club.
He returned to playing, in his preferred position of hooker, shortly afterwards before combining his playing role with acting as club secretary.
Turning out for the Saints B team on occasion, he retired from playing at the age of 38 - but remained determined to help make Brook a major force in the amateur game.
A key player in the formation of BARLA, even donating his own cash to help get the ball rolling, he helped turn Brook into a conveyor-belt of junior talent – which has so far produced three subsequent Man Of Steel winners.
Mr Swift’s unswerving dedication to the game he loved also saw him awarded an MBE by HM The Queen in 2004.