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Funeral for former Premier League referee and Maidstone town centre manager Paul Alcock

Hundreds turned out to pay their respects to former Premier League referee Paul Alcock at a service in Maidstone this afternoon.

So many friends and colleagues from the worlds of sport, business, voluntary sector and others in Maidstone attended the service for Mr Alcock, 64, who died last month, that there was standing room only at Vinters Park Crematorium.

Mr Alcock who had been manager of the Mall Maidstone, as well as founder of the Urban Blue Bus and chairman of Maidstone Town Centre Management, died on Monday, January 29 after a long battle with cancer.

Paul Alcock during his time at The Mall
Paul Alcock during his time at The Mall

The Premier League great, famed for showing Paolo Di Canio red and receiving a solid shove in return, raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity following his retirement from top flight football. His coffin was adorned with one red and one yellow card.

The service, led by the Most Reverend Jonathan Blake, heard tributes to a man who had been a good friend, father and grandfather, hard worker and tireless fundraiser.

Childhood friend Jes Chandler, who said Mr Alcock would "never take second best" said of his refereeing: "He was so proud to pull that shirt on... and have 30,00 people question his parentage and say he didn't know know what he was doing!"

"He was proud of the standards he set; he had time for everyone - but he didn't suffer fools. He was a man prepared to give up his own time for the benefit of others."

The moment Paul Alcock was shoved by Paolo Di Canio
The moment Paul Alcock was shoved by Paolo Di Canio

His friend and former Town Centre Management colleague, Bill Moss, recalled some cherished memories of a man who vowed no meeting should ever last longer than an hour - partly to go and have a cuppa - who always answered his phone as DCI John Regan from his favourite TV programme The Sweeney, and who took his refereeing duties extremely seriously - and could never be drawn on his decisions afterwards.

Steve Corbishley from Kent Police recalled how he had met him first professionally in 2000, but, as a Manchester City fan, had first seen him in action in 1995 at his first Premier League match - when his team had lost to Coventry.

He said he had been tireless in trying to secure funding for projects including the Urban Blue Bus which supported and helped those out in the town late at night, including providing flip flops for revellers.

The service, which ended with Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, heard how Mr Alcock, who was born in Redhill, one of four siblings, had been a keen sportsman and hard worker from an early age. He had two children from his marriage to Maggie, and was a devoted grandad.

Initially diagnosed in August 2015, Mr Alcock, of Church Street, Boughton Monchelsea, underwent an intensive period of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and lost three stone in 24 days while at Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury.

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