More than 40 rugby players formed a sombre guard of honour as one of the sport’s leading figures in Lancashire took his final journey.
And it was standing room only at a packed Burscough Crematorium as Hugh Paterson, chairman and co-founder of Tarleton Rugby Union Club, was laid to rest.
Representatives from his other sporting passion - Penwortham Golf Club - also turned out to say an emotional farewell to their director and former captain who lost his brave battle with cancer aged 69.
Around 200 people attended the funeral - before the current coronavirus restrictions - with many more watching at home on a live TV link.
Tributes flowed to a hugely influential figure in both sports across the county. Son Michael told mourners he was “an extraordinary man” with “an unwavering love” for rugby and golf throughout his life.
“He was a lover of all sports, but he called rugby his ‘magnificent obsession,” he said. “As a family we are incredibly proud of his achievements at Tarleton Rugby Club.”
Scotsman Hugh, who was a former deputy director of leisure at West Lancashire Council, launched Tarleton from scratch in 1990 and spent the last 30 years building it up to a club which now plays in level seven of English rugby.
Ian Jackson, who succeeds him as chairman, told mourners: “What is important is that Tarleton Rugby Club continues to follow Hugh’s mantra of encouraging young players.
“We are going to continue to do that to the best of our ability. He created a legacy and that legacy does not stop .
“Hugh just had that something, you could say a certain X-factor.
“He was a true leader. Leaders don’t have to be the loudest and the most bold.
“He just had that quality, that strong will and an amazing skill to galvanise people to perform.
“The fact that so many people turned up today to celebrate Hugh’s life is a clear indication of his popularity. I think he would have been a touch embarrassed to hear people describing what a great guy he was and saying such wonderful things about him.”
Hugh formed Tarleton as a junior rugby club with Welshman Gwyn Morgan to give youngsters in the village an opportunity to play rugby. It took five years before the club fielded a senior side.
He led the development of the club from borrowing a local school field to having its own home in Carr Lane with a clubhouse, two pitches and a floodlit training area.
But away from rugby Hugh also loved to play golf and became actively involved in Penwortham Golf Club in 1992. He was club captain in 2011 and served two terms as a director, including the past four years.
Chairman Dave Brookes told mourners Hugh had made a real impact and been “an excellent ambassador” for the club as well as being “a highly respected and loved member.”
Dave went on: “He gave support to countless individuals. He had a generosity of spirit. He became captain in 2011 and few have been able to own the role like Hugh did.
“I don’t know a single person who had a bad word to say about him. He was an absolute gentleman.”
Another of Hugh’s sons, Andrew, read a poem he had written called ‘My Dad.’ And then celebrant Ray Bramford, who is also a poet and the rugby club’s physiotherapist, added: “The most important thing is we truly celebrate his life and we cherish his memory.”
He then read a poem he had penned about Hugh titled ”Captain My Captain (I admire you).”